Today we celebrate Valentine’s Day. If, for a moment, we can step back from the commercial cacophony that surrounds this day, we might get a glimpse of what rests at its heart.

Valentine’s Day dates back to the third century and celebrates the life and martyrdom of a Roman priest, Valentinus, who is said to have prayed and healed a blind girl while he was imprisoned. The story is there to be read.

While this day might highlight romantic love, placing before us red hearts, fluffy teddy bears, bouquets of flowers, chocolates and the like, there is another love that we need to acknowledge and cherish. It is a love that allows a person to be selfless in their giving and to lay their life on the line for what they believe. It is a love that gives us the courage to ‘finally step out of the boat.’ In the words of Fr Pedro Arrupe SJ, it is a love that affects everything:

Nothing is more practical than

finding God, than

falling in love

in a quite absolute, final way.

What you are in love with,

what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.

It will decide

what will get you out of bed in the morning,

what you do with your evenings,

how you spend your weekends,

what you read, whom you know,

what breaks your heart,

and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.

Fall in love, stay in love,

and it will decide everything.

So, on this day, let us take the time to celebrate those people who have opened us to the meaning of love in all its many facets—our parents, our friends, our spouses and partners, prophets and poets, singers and artists, activists and leaders.

May the passion for what seizes our imagination and for what we truly believe in give us the courage to step out of the boat and reach out to others in love and compassion.

READ: ‘The True Love‘ by David Whyte

WATCH: ‘Love Changes Everything‘ performed by Michael Ball and Il Divo

CONSIDER: Reach out to someone who is lonely, just needs a hug and/or a kind word. Check out Random Acts of Kindness for some ideas!