Valentine’s Day is traditionally a day to extend to others some sign of our love and appreciation. It can be a special day for the family of an incarcerated member because Valentine’s Day all started with the kind thank-you note of a man who was in prison.

HERE’S THE STORY as we pieced it together from several sources:

Father Valentine (possibly a bishop) was beheaded about 269 near Rome for publicly professing Christianity and for aiding persecuted Christians. While he was in prison, legend has it that he restored the sight of his jailer’s blind daughter.

On the eve of his death, he wrote a farewell note to the jailer’s daughter, and signed it, “From Your Valentine” valentines1


The good example of Fr. Valentine is still practiced today as we send valentines of love and appreciation to others. So the practice can continue as incarcerated men and women and their families send Valentine cards, notes, or letters to family members and others who have been kind in any way. These cards, etc. could also include someone who is hospitalized, in a nursing home, in the military, or anyone you know who might be lonely.

Just as Fr. Valentine was kind to his jail keeper’s daughter, we can be kind to the guards, administration staff, chaplains, and to other inmates and their families by our notes and words of appreciation. Fill your day with saying “Happy Valentine’s Day” to everyone.


Lord, you tell us that whatever we do to the least of your people, we do unto you. Help us to see you in the lives of those who are confined. Send us your Spirit to give us the creativity, courage and love we need to be your Valentine of Love for others.

– An Institute of Peace and Justice Prayer


Valentine’s Day represents the epitome of romantic love. With the twang of the Cupid’s bow and the flight of his arrow, the ecstasy of the experience most people call love is ignited. “Up, Up and Away!” “Cloud Nine” – and all that.

But maybe Valentine’s Day is more a celebration of what love is not. We remember how the Marriage Encounter principle of LOVE IS A DECISION had a profound affect on us.

We hadn’t thought about it before. Love, a decision, a day-by-day decision lived out in acts of love. It puts meaning into the continued sense of oneness through experiences that would be so out of context on a Valentine card.

Love is a decision and the little ways in which we say “I do” to our marriage every day to keep that decision active and growing are not always acts that are fun or ecstatic.

The Father’s decision to love us and to send His Son to redeem us was a painful act of love. Jesus’ decision in Gethsemane to die the torturous death on the cross was far from an ecstatic, joyful act. And this was the model the Apostle Paul uses to explain Christian marriage; the relationship between Christ and the Church.

We learn from Marriage Encounter that feelings are neither right nor wrong, but the important thing is how we act on those feelings. Sentimental Valentines, flowers and romantic songs may express our feelings, but the everyday decisions to do the acts of love – the marriage bonders – are what keep our marriages growing and alive.