Thursday, February 14, 2008

St. Valentine’s Day is an opportunity for Orthodox lovers to express their feelings - Russian Church

13 February 2008, 10:24

Moscow, February 13, Interfax - The Dean of Psychology Department of St. John Russian Orthodox University Priest Andrey Lorgus thinks it is possible to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day, including the celebration by Orthodox couple lovers.

“I see nothing wrong with this. Thank God, that people have another opportunity to spend more time together, and give presents to their loved ones. Certainly, as long as we really mean love, and not fashion or stereotypic induced behavior patterns. The latter case is a shame,” said Fr. Andrey to Interfax-Religion Wednesday.

According to Fr. Andrey, St. Valentine’s Day as a holiday “may be good or bad, as well as New Year’s Day may also be good or bad.”

“For some, it means joy and a chance to manifest love, giving and generosity,” he noted.

Commenting the intention of some Orthodox young people to hold an Internet campaign on February 14 in protest at “pagan” and “commercial” nature of St. Valentine’s Day, Fr. Andrey said that organizers of such events were “driven by fear on the one hand, and by hypocrisy and a wish to make a name for themselves, on the other hand.”

“There is still a healthy trace in such protests - it is the zeal of their Orthodox tradition. However, it is well known, that such zeal unfortunately is not always moved by reason,” claims Fr. Andrey.

At the same time, he agreed that the annual boom around St. Valentine’s Day had a commercial nature and was “certainly instigated by sales networks which raise a lot of money on that.”

“This boom refers to the modern tradition rather than to religious or popular worship of St. Valentine. From Christian and religious standpoint, this is not a holiday, because this day has no reference to any of St. Valentines known to us. For example, the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates the memory of St. Martyr Triphon on February 14,” said Fr. Andrey.

In his turn, the Head of Communication Service of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Mikhail Prokopenko thinks that the setting of Saint Valentine’s Day and its symbols are “some kind of a flash mob (a large group of people who assemble at a certain time for a special purpose - IF) with a commercial touch,” which indicate that people “lack festive events which could really reach their souls and lives.”

“The most deplorable thing we have to observe during the days of total obsession with Valentine greetings is that great and enigmatic phenomena of human life, such as love and faith which inspired many generations of poets and artists are pushed into the Procrustean bed of spiritual “fast food,” said Fr. Mikhail to Interfax-Religion.

He reminded that today’s family crisis is the objective reality, and one of its reasons is the fact that “many people see no ideals of love and family life, the images on which to build their lives.”

“Real true love is inseparable from responsibility; it is not selfish or ambitious. According to Paul the Apostle, such love is not self-seeking; it needs no reasons to reveal itself. Reasons are needed to habitual users of surrogates who lost their ability to feel true love long ago,” claims Fr. Mikhail.

According to him, if a person in love “never thinks about responsibility, and never cares that love is a very serious affair, he should better not disturb his spirit with such emotions which have no vital prospects.”

“Torturing one’s spiritual world with infatuation is harmful,” claims Fr. Mikhail.


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