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February Chaplain's Reflections

U.S. Air Force Capt. Matthew Gray, a chaplain assigned to 169th Fighter Wing, at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., Feb. 6, 2018. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Megan Floyd)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Matthew Gray, a chaplain assigned to 169th Fighter Wing, at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., Feb. 6, 2018. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Megan Floyd)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. --

Hello my fellow Swamp Foxes! It is that time of year again when I remind all you fellas out there that Valentine’s Day is February 14th. Ladies, should your beau forget, I’ve got a whole box of tissues and plenty of dark chocolates on my desk!

Last year I wrote a little about the origin of St. Valentine’s Day but I thought I’d give a little more background this year.

Approximately 250 years after Jesus was born in Bethlehem, there was a priest by the name of Valentine. He lived in Rome during the reign of Emperor Claudius, who was committed to rebuilding the once-great Roman army. However, he believed it was important for men to volunteer for armed service, rather than drafting men into service against their will. But, given a choice, most young men in the Roman Empire refused to serve. They’d rather stay at home with their wives and children than go off into battle. Who could blame them? This natural desire reduced the fighting force to only single men. So Claudius issued a royal edict that banned all further marriages. He actually outlawed weddings in the Roman Empire, rightly earning himself the nick-name Claudius the Cruel.

Undaunted, Valentine continued to marry couples secretly and was eventually caught. He was sentenced to death and on the day Valentine was to die, he left the daughter of one of his prison guards a note thanking her for her friendship and loyalty while he was in prison. He signed it, “Love from your Valentine.” That note started the custom of exchanging love notes on Valentine’s Day. It was written on the day he died, February 14, 269 A.D.—a day that was set aside in honor of a man who gave his life, sacrificing his own desires, for God and for love. Now, every year on this day, people remember Saint Valentine, but most importantly, they think about love.

Everyone loves love! We want to be loved and we want to give love. The problem is—our love is lacking just like we are. It’s often conditional upon our own mood or our loved one’s actions, appearance or attitude. When it comes to love, all of us fall a little short, don’t we? Loving well requires mutual sacrifice between persons. This is how we love and know we are loved when we are not only willing to sacrifice our own wants, desires, and dreams for those of another but also see someone else doing the same for us.

My question for you today is—how well do we love? Do we develop and nurture a love worth giving and receiving on Valentine’s Day and every day? The Chaplain Corps will be sponsoring a Strong Bonds Couples Event this Saturday of Drill at Blue Marlin to address this very question. I would encourage any couple to consider attending a Strong Bonds event in the future. But in the meantime, love one another well and remember that no sacrifice done out of love is in vain.