Fairest Love

Mrs Yeoman Farmer and I have never been much into Valentine’s Day. Apart from the total over-commercialization, the whole thing seems to be a spectacularly overdone commoditization of sex and relationships. It’s like those annoying eHarmony.com radio and TV ads that promise to find your “soulmate.” The hype associated with V-Day promises much more than can ever be delivered in a single day. We protest this by simply opting out.

While St. Valentine may no longer be on the calendar of Catholic saints, there is an optional feast that can be celebrated today: Our Lady of Fair Love. Being in Urbana to deliver a couple of political science guest lectures today, I spent last night at the Opus Dei-run student residence just off campus at the U of I. At the Mass this morning in the house’s oratory, we used the votive Mass of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, commemorating Our Lady of Fair Love. It was a wonderful, and truly fitting, way to “take back” February 14th and restore to it a sense of its true meaning.

February 14th also has other special significance for the Prelature of Opus Dei: it is the anniversary of the founding of the women’s apostolate (1930s), and the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross (1940s). As a big feast day, we had flowers on the altar, the finest liturgical vessels, and all six candles burning. Like I said a moment ago, it was absolutely wonderful way to “take this day back” from the popular culture and remember the true nature of love that God intended for the human race. Not obsessing about finding chocolates, or jewelry, or restaurant reservations, or suggestive lingere. Rather, fairest love is about giving of oneself completely, for others, and Mary is the most perfect human example of that.

I’m not sure yet what time I’ll make it home to Michigan tonight. Regardless, there won’t be any V-Day parties. My biggest hope is that I arrive in time to help put the kids to bed. That’s the kind of love MYF and I want to celebrate today.

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