Since St. Patrick’s Day is less than a month away, now is a good time order St. Patrick’s Day cards. St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, is one of the most widely known saints. After being ordained as a bishop, Patrick began preaching the Gospel throughout Ireland, converting many and building churches. He supposedly used the 3-leaf shamrock, which grows all over Ireland, to explain the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity, and legend credits him with creating the Celtic cross. This Printery House card (CA8197) features a painting of St. Patrick by a monk of Conception Abbey and appears there in the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. This prayer is on the inside left of this card:
May Christ be with us!
May Christ be before us!
May Christ be in us, Christ be over all!
May Your Salvation, Lord, Always be ours,
This day, O Lord, and evermore.
Tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, marks the beginning of the season of Lent, a season of penance, prayer, and reflection. While the ashes symbolize penance and contrition, they are also a reminder that God is gracious and merciful to those who call on Him with repentant hearts. This is beautifully expressed in Psalm 51:
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your merciful love,
according to your great compassion,
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me completely from my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
The stories of St. Valentine are many and varied. In fact, history recognizes three saints known as Valentine, all of whom were martyrs for the sake of Christ. Their lives give witness to the deeper meaning of this celebration that goes far beyond today’s secular symbols and customs:
Rev. William P. Saunders, Ph.D., columnist for the Arlington Catholic Herald wrote this about St. Valentine’s Day:
“The love of our Lord…is a sacrificial, selfless, and unconditional love…that each Christian is called to express in his own life, for God and neighbor. Clearly, St. Valentine—no matter which one —showed such a love, bearing witness to the faith in his dedication as a priest and in the offering of his own life in martyrdom. On this Valentine’s Day…each person should offer again his love to the Lord, for only by doing so can he properly love those who are entrusted to his care and any other neighbor. Never forget Jesus said, ‘This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you. ‘There is no greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’. ”