Taken from "Practical Aids for Catholic Teachers" by Sister Mary Aurelia, O.S.F., M.A. (Sisters of St. Francis, Millvale, Pa.) and Rev. Felix M. Kirsch, O.M.Cap., Litt.D. (Capuchin College, Catholic Uniersity, Washington, D.C.) written in 1928 with imprimaturs
St. Valentine's Day - February 14
To the Teacher: The feast of St. Valentine will give the Catholic teacher a splendid opportunity to encourage children to send messages and greetings of Catholic import and meaning to their friends instead of such that are not only foolish but often pagan in character and which take the form of valentines, as they are called. What purpose does it serve to let the children cut out hearts, darts, cupids, and the like, to send to their friends? How much better to suggest to the children to make religious pictures and booklets to send to their friends! A message of cheerfulness and encouragement to the sick, to those in affliction, in imitation of the thoughtfulness of St. Valentine is much better. The sending of valentines has assumed great proportions. Catholic teachers can start a crusade against this custom by introducing a counter movement which will serve to perpetuate the real motive that actuated St. Valentine. It will not do merely to frown on the custom or to voice disapproval; to combat it effectively something better must be substituted. This plan has been tried in some schools with great success. It appealed, not only to the children, but to the adult members of the family as well. If the children cannot make booklets, introduce the custom of sending holy pictures. It will be a good investment, even if the teacher must supply the pictures. Children do not usually make much use of holy pictures unless they are taught to mount them on construction paper or paste them in booklets. This is an interesting occupation for them and at the same time much good can be accomplished if they study the picture and write a sentence or two under each.
The courage of St. Valentine
The story of St. Valentine is very interesting and it shows that even when the saints were suffering every kind of pain and torture, they had the courage to go on and do all they could to help others. St. Valentine was a priest who did much good among the people. At the time he lived, wicked men were trying to kill every one that believed in Christ. They were especially anxious to kill those that were teaching the people to know Christ. St. Valentine was not afraid, but he went about doing his work, helping his people. When he was put into prison he did not forget his friends. He spent his time praying for them and in writing little letters to them. He tied these messages around the necks of pigeons and sent them to his friends. You can imagine how glad they were to get a letter from the good Father Valentine as they called him. These letters cheered the people and helped to make them strong in their faith. Now you know why people send valentines. However, instead of sending such silly messages as some people are sending today, we shall send kind letters to the sick, the poor, the helpless, to cheer them in their sufferings. That is what St. Valentine did.
I have a little plan for you. I know you will wish to be like St. Valentine and make others happy. Now you say, "How can we do that?" I shall tell you. It is very easy. Suppose you make a booklet containing some beautiful pictures of the Infant Jesus or the Blessed Virgin or some other saint. I know you can make somebody happy by sending them such a booklet. What do you think of my plan? Do you wish to do this? To whom can we send the booklets? That can be easily settled. There are many children in hospitals or in orphan asylums. Don't you think they would like your little books? Would it make them feel better? Would St. Valentine want you to do that? Make uproar minds today which pictures you wish to use for your booklet. You can paste the pictures into it during your spare time. Tomorrow we shall get them ready to send away. While you are making booklets, think of St. Valentine and the messages he sent to his friends. Ask him to help you make others happy, especially those that are sick or in trouble.
1. I will make the best booklet I know how to make
2. I will not spend any money on silly valentines, but I will make pictures or booklets to send to my friends.
Hearts good and true
Have wishes few
In narrow circles bounded,
And hope that lives
On what God gives
Is Christian hope well founded.
Small things are best:
Grief and unrest
To rank and wealth are given;
But little things
On little wings
Bear little souls to Heaven.