HYATTSVILLE, Maryland, FEB. 10, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Valentine's Day is quickly approaching, and many men are scrambling to prepare for what seems like a yearly comprehensive exam on the state of their relationships. [ROFL! I love it! HAHAHA!]
They wonder: Does she want something material this year, like diamonds and roses, or rather an evening out? Has she been dropping me hints that I've been deaf to? What if I thought I knew what she wanted, and then she said something that threw me for a loop again? [Because women want men to keep on guessing.]
ZENIT asked Rebecca Ryskind Teti, a wife and mother herself, about the inside scoop on what women really want on this Feb. 14 celebration. Teti, who blogs daily at www.faithandfamilylive.com, asked her readers, women from across the country, about their plans and hopes for Sunday.
Teti, also a contributing editor to Faith & Family Magazine and the In Good Company columnist for Catholic News Agency, added some other ideas for making this day special for the whole family.
ZENIT: With Valentine's Day approaching, we are being bombarded with television commercials that give the impression that all women want this Feb. 14 are diamonds and cellular phones. Do these material things really make a woman happy? What is it that makes women happy? [Marketing ploy at the expense of men's wallets. (Sigh. Sniff.)]
Teti: Gifts do help! Ads exaggerate to sell particular products, but to the extent that a gift is a token of something deeper -- of love, affection, or appreciation -- of course it is delightful. [And when women who exaggerate their feelings see something exaggerated, everything gets exaggerated, don't you think?]
What sometimes offends us about advertising is the implication that women live for gifts, that presents must be extravagant to count, or that a token of affection can be coerced. [Now that's woman power! Asserting for the right reasons.]
We shouldn't neglect the positive premise that's also present, though, which is the reminder to take time to show the people we love that we appreciate them.
Material things have no power to make us happy, but they do make our daily routine a little sweeter. We live not by bread alone, but by bread as well.
ZENIT: What do women, especially Catholic women, want this Valentine's Day? [Now here goes.]
Teti: Most of our readers mentioned looking forward to simple pleasures: a card, a little chocolate, perhaps a single rose. Some were hoping for an opportunity to dress up a little and go out; others were hoping for a quiet evening in.
Whatever form their fancy took, however, what all the married women who responded were hoping for was concentrated time with their husbands. [Which is even harder to get these days!]
The desire seems to be to break the daily routine of chores and obligations, and just be able to enjoy each other's company for awhile. [Hear that?]
One woman laughingly did ask for sapphire earrings, but said she wasn't expecting them this year. She was thinking many years down the road -- perhaps one extravagant Valentine's Day just once in her married life.
ZENIT: What do wives particularly look for from their husbands?
Teti: That is too big a question! I will narrow my answer to one thing that seems relevant to Valentine's Day.
Thanks to Venerable John Paul II's "Theology of the Body," the Church understands more deeply than ever the meaning of the line from Genesis: "male and female he created them."
In other words, man and woman together present to mankind an image of God.
The vocation of woman is to reveal God's beauty to the world. [WHAT?! Not women priests? Dang! The nuns-in-pants would be up in arms! The Anglicans and Episcopalians will be mad!]
Woman is made to be beautiful. Our culture's emphasis on physical beauty is not wrong, but it is shallow, and often misdirected. [And costly!]
The deepest way a woman is beautiful is when she reveals to others their own goodness by teaching them the love God has for them. This is the "feminine genius:" to reveal the goodness of the human person, and thus the beauty of God. [Hmmm... still no women priest. Hey get that! Richard McBrien!]
What Mother Teresa of Calcutta did for the poor, every woman can do in her environment, and certainly every mother does in her home for her husband and children. [Oh how the liberals hate Mother Teresa.]
This is the most satisfying and happy "work" of women, but there remains in every woman an emotional need to feel her beauty is appreciated. [Naturally.]
So one of the best things a husband can do for his wife is give a little assurance now and then that she is still beautiful in his eyes: in spite of wrinkles, stretch marks, perhaps the weight gain that can come with bearing children, cooking for them, and taking more care of others than oneself. [And don't ever ask her or tell anyone her real age and weight! If you do not want World War 3 erupting so suddenly, eh?]
That's the real meaning of a romantic gesture for most wives, I think: It's a sign she is appreciated not just as cook and chauffer and governess and maid, but as wife. [Now that is a 24 hour job and probably the most important in the world. Some career women prefer to take care of dogs and not get married. Why? Because they are afraid to become wives and mothers. They can be CEOs and be rich, famous and powerful but yet cannot handle the greatest job a woman can ever have...wife and mother.]
ZENIT: How can Catholic families celebrate St. Valentine's Day? [Now I like this. Hope you do some of these suggestions or even some of your own in the Com Box.]
Teti: Faith & Family readers have lots of good ideas. Some of them study the various saints named Valentine.
Some make it a day to remember people who might otherwise be forgotten by taking valentine cards to sick or elderly shut-ins.
Almost everyone makes it an occasion to exchange cards with family members, celebrating the family's love for one another.
And, of course, there must be heart-shaped desserts.
ZENIT: Valentine's Day has its roots in Christianity. There are actually several St. Valentines who were martyrs in the early Church. What is it about this Christian holiday that appeals to popular culture so much that they have embraced it as well? [With some atheist nut jobs greeting you "Merry Winter Solstice". I'm a Christian and you are celebrating a Christian feast so deal with it!]
Teti: I think we have Geoffrey Chaucer to thank for that. Not much is known about any of the St. Valentines, but they were martyrs, and there does not seem to have been any association of the day with romance until Chaucer wrote a poem about the marriage of Richard II to Anne of Bohemia.
Chaucer made St. Valentine the patron saint of the marriage, and his poem also included allusions to Cupid and Venus. After that, there seems to have been a conflation of Cupid and St. Valentine, and Valentine's Day came to be associated with the "courtly love" of the medieval courts.
It's from the tradition of courtly love that the practice of sending a "valentine" in secret comes about. Or so the historians say!
ZENIT: In popular culture, it can seem that Valentine's day has become more of a day about sex and being sexy than about love. Is there a place for both on this day? [I love the quesions.]
Teti: Catholicism isn't puritanical. The Catholic approach to culture has always been to embrace what is wholesome and overcome what is evil with good. [Do I hear an AMEN?]
Of course there is no necessity to celebrate Valentine's Day; it's not a holy day of obligation! [And another one?]
But for those who choose to observe it, there's no reason it can't be an opportunity to celebrate human love in all its dimensions -- including the romantic and erotic, which are part of God's gift to husbands and wives.[Leave the erotic part for those who are married...by the Church.]
Observe Valentine's Day for all the right reasons.
And I hope our hippie, soon-to-be-former, loves-to-construct-anything and run-fund-raisers "Deal or No Deal" parish priest would not use the Sunday Mass as an occasion to turn make it his very own Jerry Springer Show once again!
Imagine, having a special ritual blessing for married couples right after Holy Communion...in a huge church....5,000 capacity...waiting for the couples to gather in front of the sanctuary...for the blessing that can come before the dismissal.
I forgot what he said during his homily. All I remember was he tried being Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Phil in 30 gruelling minutes.
When do I get to sing that Beatles' song? (Na na na na. Hey hey! Goodbye!)