It’s ironic that the most romantic day of the year occurs in one of the least romantic months. I remember as a parish priest, there were few weddings but many funerals during February.
This year, February 14 falls on Ash Wednesday! And, the church calendar reserves that day to
commemorate Sts. Cyril and Methodius — brothers, missionaries and theologians who created the Cyrillic alphabet for the Slavic nations. Hardly romantic! Yet, good evangelists see this day as a great opportunity — perhaps even greater than the “Santa-fied” version of Christmas — to promote the true meaning of love!
On Valentine’s Day, we ought to make a connection between Sts. Valentine, Cyril and Methodius as they offer an example and image of true love. Missionary brothers Cyril and Methodius created a language. St. Valentine shows us love by his actions of self-sacrifice in defense of Christian marriage. Isn’t that what couples should be doing for each other — vowing fidelity even in bad, sick and austere times of their marriage?
In these saints we see an image of what true love involves — toil, struggle and perseverance. That’s why love looks like a heart violently pierced with an arrow. Love requires passion! But passion is misunderstood. The word comes from the Latin root pati, a verb that means “to suffer!”
Valentine suffered. Cyril and Methodius, by leaving their homeland, suffered. Trying to learn and create another language didn’t come easily. Put simply, if love doesn’t involve personal sacrifice or suffering, it probably isn’t genuine Christian love. This isn’t to depress anyone, but to encourage people to take up their cross as the greatest act of love. The faithful must be assured that when things are tough, God provides an opportunity to strengthen one’s understanding of love by offering mercy, compassion, and humility to listen.
In my book, Spicing Up Married Life, I encourage couples to get rid of anniversaries. Why wait one year to celebrate love!? With 12 chapters in the book, a couple can celebrate “month-aversaries” — monthly dinner dates. This regularity encourages consistent communication through spending time together, feeding each other’s hungers, and learning to listen to what God is saying to you through your spouse. Good communication is in itself a form of “passion.” In this book of bite-sized theological chapters about a theology of marriage, question conversation starters, and 12 thematic recipes for two, I share how a regular delicious dinner can help a couple to love each other by listening to each other.
In this unromantic time of the year, we have at least three saints to teach us what love looks like. Talk about this on your next dinner date! It may be a chore to set aside one each month, but the “sacrifice” can help you find what you’re seeking – true love, which requires nurturing all year long.
REV. LEO E. PATALINGHUG IVDEI is a Catholic priest, author, speaker, TV and radio host, founder of the nonprofit www.TheTableFoundation.org and the international food and faith movement “Plating Grace” at @FatherLeoFeeds.
Semisweet Chocolate Mousse
4 ounches semisweet dark chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. granulate sugar
1 egg yolk
Heat heavy cream until it begins to steam. Pour over the chocolate and sugar and whisk together until chocolate is smooth. Add egg yolk to chocolate and mix to incorporate all ingredients, until the chocolate is silky smooth. If necessary, reheat in microwave for 10-15 seconds to warm the chocolate. Set aside.
Creating the Mousse:
1/2 cup of whipping cream
1 egg white
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
In a chilled bowl, whisk the heavy whipping cream with a hand blender and refrigerate. In another chilled bowl, combine egg whites and cream of tartar and whisk together using a hand blender.
Use a spatula and fold the chocolate ganache into the whipped cream and whipped egg whites. Pour into serving dishes or in a storage container and chill for at least 2-3 hours until firm. Top off the mousse with streusel or dollop of whipped cream, a few blueberries, edible flowers or mint.