Renewing Your Marriage Vows
On St. Valentine's Day
by Rev. Robert J. Hermley
Stories for Life Index
There are many legends told about St. Valentine. This is not uncommon when a mean radiates a great deal of love toward others.
Frequently, that love is returned to the giver and many pious thoughts take root and are told in the course of recounting the life of such a man of live. Often times, truths take on a broader base and sometimes become exaggerated, but almost always, those legends are, for the most part, true at the core while a little fluff is added for extra measure.
Such is the story of St. Valentine; but it is certain, however, that he was a priest and a physician. He was holy and dedicated to the ideals of Christ and the Catholic Church. The oppressive Roman Emperor, Claudius the Goth, commanded all Romans to worship false gods. Valentine, dedicated to the Catholic and true Church as he was, refused. For this refusal, he was arrested and imprisoned and was beheaded as a martyr February 14, 269 A.D.
Because of his love of God and for his people, his name has become synonymous with the devotion which lovers show to each other, that children have toward their moms and dads and that friends and close acquaintances show in their friendships through life.
It is told that St. Valentine from his jail cell would send letters of greeting to friends and parishioners. He would invariably end these special letters with the words, "Your Valentine." This is the truth while a bit of fluff was later added that he wrote upon leaves and petals of flowers and the birds delivered these missives to his special friends.
Today, in imitation of this great Catholic Saint who loved his friends so much, Valentines are sent as a show of affection to the person or persons we really care for. A Valentine received is, perhaps, one of the best compliments one friend or lover can show towards another.
Valentine's story is a story of love and we can readily see why St. Valentine's Day is a good day to renew thoughts of love and affection especially for husbands and wives.
I have always thought that it would be a great idea for all married couples, if not in Church, at least at home, in front of children to renew their marriage vows on St. Valentine's Day. Let your children hear from you first-hand that love means sacrifice - that love is forever - that love becomes stronger in trials and tribulations - that love begets responsibility. Let them understand that it is very easy to say glibly, "I love you" to someone, but that the truth comes to light in the crucible of every day life with its sacrifices and difficulties. Teach them that love is kept alive by dedication of husband and wife to the knowledge that one day they will stand face to face with their Creator and answer to His question, "What did you do for Me?" Let them know at an early age that, first and foremost, love cannot continue to exist without talking to each other - talking over the every day problems which can threaten a marriage. Let them know that in marriage Christ must be the King and Center of their hearts. Tell them that when God is excluded from love, it can easily degenerate into selfishness - and that this today is probably the biggest cause of family break-up.
If, perchance, your spouse is deceased, you can still read the vows you once made to God and to each other and smile at the happy times you both spent together, knowing full well that your deceased spouse will be asking God to bestow upon you and your family some special favor on St. Valentine's Day.
If, on the other hand, you are separated or divorced, let it be a kind of prayer that you and your separated spouse will always remain faithful to God and loyal to Church teaching on the separation.
This short meditation can perhaps be read by one or several children - each child reading a paragraph:
1. On the day of your wedding, you stood before the altar of God and solemnly vowed before each other, your family and friends, in striking testimony of what God's grace conferred in matrimony can accomplish in a husband and wife who carefully guard and use the divine treasure that is in them. The world today has great need of the living sermon which your example of fidelity and love shows forth. You have been dauntless in the face of many problems and difficulties, known only to yourselves and hidden from others that could have made your marriage something entirely other than it has actually been.
2. We have every reason to believe that your married love has closely resembled Christ's love for his spotless bride, the Church, and that as Christ is the Savior of the Church so you have been a savior to each other, helping each other grow in holiness and patience, but above all, true love for God and neighbor. And so, you have found in your life together true peace, dignity, happiness and security. The way has not always been easy. You have had to endure suffering together. But because you have been faithful to God, He has been faithful to you, blessed you abundantly and with His help you have been able to accomplish what you of yourselves without divine aid could never have accomplished.
3. You were married in Christ and Christ has continued these many years to be your portion in happiness and your chalice in sorrow. We beg him to guide you and watch over the years ahead which we pray will be many and blessed.
HUSBAND: I, (N), reaffirm my marriage vows and rededicate myself in the same spirit that I pronounced when I took you, (N), for better for worse for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death.
WIFE: I, (N), reaffirm my marriage vows and rededicate myself in the same spirit that I pronounced when I took you, (N), for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death.
TOGETHER: Let us pray. Lord, reach out Your hand to Your faithful servants, so that we may seek You wholeheartedly and receive from You all the good things we desire.
Almighty God, look with blessing on us who have just renewed our marriage vows. We have come to your altar with happy hearts to offer our thanks to You; grant that we may continue to live in genuine Christian love and attain with our family and friends the joys of many more years together. Amen.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, be with us always in our trials and difficulties. Help us to see in each one, along with our moments of happiness, the will of God. Jesus and Mary, keep us united in your love and protection as a holy family.