By Nick Pandazis, (BTh – Athens University).
Author’s Note: Contrary to public belief, the origin and figure that inspired the present worldly celebration of “Valentine’s Day, was not any of the priest-martyrs named Valentine, who belonged to the early (then canonical) Church of Rome. The figure who actually inspired this day was a 17th century “revolutionary” who later became a Roman Catholic monk, and who became known for his fervour in matchmaking singles, and assisting couples in their romances.
There is no such thing for Orthodox believers, as the commerce-driven, profit-centred, Secular and purely Papal “St Valentine’s Day!”
“Valentine” is not even a “saint” of Orthodoxy, nor a “Saint” in the eyes of God. He is a pseudo “saint” of Papism, a counterfeit “saint” of Ecumenism.
And, we should note that heresy cannot produce saintliness. Nor can blasphemy bring forth holiness. This is not to say that God does not look at the heart of individuals and their intent, but we must remember that, “What agreement is there between Christ and Velial (the devil)? What does a (true, Orthodox) believer have in common with an unbeliever?” (2 Corinthians 6: 15).
The Holy Trinity is the Source of all Holiness. The Holy Spirit is the Divine Distributor of all Saintliness. The “Spirit of Truth” does not inhabit in lies. He does not dwell in deception. Yes, “the Holy Spirit blows where He pleases” (John 3, 8), but heresy does not please Him at all! (Psalm 50).
If anything, the Holy Spirit is never obliged to serve any “infallible” demands by Popes and Ecumenist Patriarchs in sanctifying certain deceived persons by force, such as Valentine, or bishops with Masonic or Pagan links and ideologies. A blasphemy in itself!
In fact, it is a huge deception based on mammoth evil pride, to even assume that the Holy Spirit would “stoop down” and be preoccupied with the love affairs of people, in all their differing kinds of colours, shades and shapes; such as the different erotic advances, sexual pursuits and expressions of sinful desire, fulfilment of passions and lusts, serving the millions of flowers to be sold, the costly gifts to be exchanged and the billions of dollars to be made…
We Orthodox do not need a special day to demonstrate our love and affection, to express our gratefulness and appreciation of others. Every day for us Orthodox Christians, is and should be a Day of the manifestation of love.
What can be done? Are we able to eliminate such a dominating, worldly, cheap, shallow and futile feast? Certainly not!
What we can do is refuse to follow “traditions of men” and re-instate, re-introduce the Sacred Traditions of Christ, the Holy Orthodox Traditions of the Holy Fathers. “Beware so that no one enslaves you through philosophy and empty deceit based on traditions of men, based on the elementary forces of the world (demons), and not based on Christ.” – (Col. 2: 8).
Christ-God is Love. But He is also Truth. Love is lived in truth and Truth is rendered in love. Love does not override truth nor is shown and shared at the expense of Truth.
True love is only the love that is based on Christ, on His Truth, on His Holy Cross, on His Holy forgiveness. Any other love that is not Christ-centred, is human, trivial and a passing scheme of this world…
Orthodoxy refuses to conform to this world’s deceptions, denies the world and rejects its false pleasures. Orthodoxy does not become the world, but transforms the world and sanctifies it through an extremely cautious and discerning coexistence. And although we peacefully coexist, we maintain at all cost our Orthodox Christian identity unadulterated, pure from every Xenomania = a possessed adherence to foreign feasts, customs etc.
Such foreign feast, having intruded from the West, is this supposed “St Valentine’s Day”. The world has every right to celebrate any feast they want. We have no aim in taking away people’s unalienable rights. But we have rights too, and if we want others to respect our rights, we need to first respect them, follow them and promote them. We have our own feasts. Unchangeable, unbargainable and unbeatable!
And it is here we should highlight, that the Orthodox Church does actually have its own specially designated “Day of Love”, even though everyday must be a day of love. It is the 13th of February. How and why?
Well, on this Day we celebrate the memory of the Holy Apostles, Saints Aquillas and Priscilla, (a very honorary title indeed), who were one of the greatest and closest helpers of Apostle Paul. They are exceptionally and marvellously mentioned in Romans 16: 3-5:
“Embrace Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus, who were willing to sacrifice their own lives for my life! To whom not only I give thanks, but also all the (local) churches of the Nations! Likewise greet their Home-Church.”
Aquillas and Priscilla were that famous! They were so beloved by everyone! And Apostle Paul mentions Priscilla first, not as a mere gesture of kindness or flattery, but out of great recognition of her value and worth, her great humility and extraordinary virtue, her great honour that is rightfully due! Priscilla touched the hearts of all believers and non-believers too.
Aquillas and Priscilla were a married couple of Pontian Jewish descent who resided in Corinth. Their occupation was the construction of tents and tabernacles. They were very humble, caring, giving, and certainly not money-centred.
Their focus was on assisting those who were in need and offering themselves within a ministry of philanthropy and service. They both had a highly cultivated phronema (mindset, character and behaviour), rich in personal gifts and strongly bonded with love and dedication to one another and to their work.
After visiting Corinth, Apostle Paul met Aquillas and Priscilla through the Most Wise guidance and Divine Grace of God. He was deeply delighted and totally overwhelmed by their love and concern, especially their great undying thirst and genuine interest for Jesus Christ and His Proper Worship, the Path, the Truth, the Life which they confessed fearlessly and shamelessly to all regions, peoples, rulers and authorities.
Aquillas and Priscilla followed Apostle Paul in the rest of his journeys. They stood by him like no other believer! They feared no one and were not afraid of losing their very own lives for Apostle Paul’s sake. This love for Apostle Paul was in extent for Jesus Christ. When we, the Orthodox love and honour our Saints, this precise love and honour extends and conveys to Jesus Christ Himself Who gave us these Saints as firm, relative intercessors and examples.
Their love for Jesus Christ was heart-piercing and splendidly inspirational. They were the most beloved personalities, the most adorable souls. Who? A married couple! Aquillas and Priscilla! A unique couple who were so much in love with each other, and with the Orthodox Apostolic Faith, that they denied the comfort of their very own home, their privacy, their rights to leisure, pleasure and travel.
Although they were married, they transformed their Home into a living glorious Temple of Bethlehem. They called it the “Home-Church” and lived as if on Holy Mount Athos, by the blessed trifold: Fast, all-night vigil and prayer! They practiced and proved that it is not the place that holds weight, but the way you live. They confessed the Orthodox Apostolic Way!
They loved Jesus Christ so much, that He in turn gifted them with the Highest, Utmost Gift and Heavenly Fruit of the Holy Spirit: MARTYDOM!!!
They were later arrested and beheaded as a great danger and threat to the Roman Empire and to the Jewish Synagogue! Their names were indelible to millions of hearts of believers and were highly venerated for many centuries.
How sad it is that today’s Youth knows nothing about them and that many Orthodox Church Leaders do not teach their remarkable and inspiring lives to us. Unfortunately, the 13th February passes un-noticed…
The joyous and moving fact is, that the Church of Greece has officially appointed the 13th of February, being the actual Day of Aquillas and Priscilla’s Martyrdom, as the Legitimate Orthodox “Valentine’s Day” symbolising their great, true love and devotion, in sacred contrast and divine opposition to the profane, secular, vain and futile feast that follows on the 14th.
May Saints Aquillas and Priscilla pray for us and assist us in our Orthodox exposition of Love In Truth!
Apolytikion 4th Tone.
Having loved Christ and being enlightened in the mind, having been united in the Orthodox Faith and a modest married life, they were leaders of their Home-Church, co-workers and protectors of Apostle Paul the Illuminator. Therefore let us honour them and imitate them.