Some Catholic Valentines

Happy Valentine’s Day! A few years ago, Sr. Mary Ann Walsh listed some Catholics she would send a Valentine to. We think it’s a great idea. Here are some people in the Church who gladden our hearts and deserve a few Valentines.

Valentines for daily Mass sacristans everywhere. If you’ve been a regular at daily mass in any parish, you know there are a few women who do the readings, help prepare the altar, serve as Eucharistic minister, and make sure the candles are lit. Their presence at Mass is almost as guaranteed as Jesus. They most likely bring home the purificators and corporals for a weekly wash and serve funeral luncheons at the parish. For their service in the small and humble ways and for their inspiration of holiness to the young…Happy Valentine’s Day!

John Carr deserves a Valentine. A layman with a long record of service to the US Catholic Church, he has recently initiated several important conversations on Catholicism and public life as the director of Georgetown’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life. In a powerful address on the clerical sex abuse crisis, he movingly shared his own story of being abused as a high school student. We are grateful that someone so hurt by the Church would continue to serve it lovingly and devoutly, while always speaking truth in love.

Valentines ought to be sent to our brothers who live and serve in conflict zones. In 2016, Jesuits released a message of solidarity and affection for those who live and minister in war and conflict zones. We recall especially Fr. Paolo Dall’Oglio, a Jesuit who worked on Muslim Christian dialogue in Syria who has been missing since 2013 and Fr. Chepe Idiaquez, S.J., President of the University of Central America (UCA) in Managua, Nicaragua who has been a central player in protest movements against the regime of President Daniel Ortega. While sending a Valentine is just a small gesture, may it be one of many as we continue to pray for and advocate for peace and justice.

Sr. Norma Pimentel has our hearts. Executive Director of Catholic Charities in the Rio Grande Valley, Sister Norma overseas operations that serve and welcome hundreds of migrants each day. Last month she wrote an op-ed welcoming President Trump to the border and personally showed him the Catholic Charities work in South Texas. For a Sister who turns every conversation about policy into one about people, we send heartfelt valentine!

A Valentine is in order for the writers and editors at the Church Life Journal. Covering a multitude of topics in theology, philosophy, art, culture, history, ethics, and politics, the Journal has something fascinating and provocative to read each day. Some highlights include Saint Augustine on the meaning of life, how our celebration of Christmas betrays the true feast, and a thoughtful and nuanced look at Jesus’ relationship with the scriptures of his people.  Plus, whoever runs their twitter account has a good sense of humor.

A Valentine for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Progressive politics may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but Ocasio-Cortez is starting important conversations and has brought her Catholic Faith into the work.  

If you don’t know about the Sisters of Life, you should. And when you meet them, you’ll want to send them a Valentine. These sisters serve as a joyful witness to the dignity of human life. Debates over abortion and right-to-life issues have only become more dreadfully polarizing in the last month. Since 1991 these sisters have worked to address root causes of abortion by running houses for low-income and single mothers before and after a pregnancy. Aside from their commitment to supporting pregnant women and single, low-income mothers, they spread joy everywhere they go!

Eve Tushnet loves the Church and gets a Valentine. She is author of Gay and Catholic: Accepting My Sexuality, Finding Community, Living My Faith. She has also written Amends: A Novel as well as Christ’s Body, Christ’s Wounds: Staying Catholic When You’ve Been Hurt in the Church. She also reviews plays, movies, and novels and regularly contributes to both First Things and America. With honesty and clarity she challenges everyone in the Church to greater care and respect for the LGBT community, while challenging us to greater devotion and love for the Church and her tradition.

Pope Benedict, six years after his abdication, deserves a Valentine for continuing to inspire us. A Valentine is fitting for a pope whose first encyclical was entitled God is Love. Not only has he served the Church as a theologian, Vatican II expert, bishop, Vatican official and pope, but now serves as pope emeritus, studying, writing and praying for Pope Francis. He is in frail health, but is always seen with a smile. We send a Valentine for the myriad of ways his brilliance and care has contributed to the life of the Church.

A spiritual bouquet to the men and women who pray for us in contemplative silence. Reading the news can remind one that the world can be a bleak place. It would no doubt be even bleaker without the thousands of men and women who live in contemplative silence and offer their lives of quiet and peaceful prayer for the world. Many open their monasteries and abbeys to host guests seeking quiet and respite from busy lives. If you want to be inspired, watch this short video on the Carmelites in Baltimore or read this one on the Benedictine Rancher Nuns in Colorado.

Finally, to you! A Valentine of gratitude to our TJP readers and supporters. There are so many in the Church who deserve a valentine for the love they pour out. Who would you send your Catholic Valentines to?

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With input from Billy Critchley-Menor, SJ, Ryan Birjoo, SJ, Jim Kennedy, SJ, Bill McCormick, SJ, and Brian Strassburger, SJ.

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