My name is Deacon Nicholas J. Haas. I’m a permanent deacon assigned at St. André Bessette Parish in Malone.

Well it’s been nearly two weeks since old Punxsutawney Phil declared an early spring. I don’t know about you, but from my vantage point I think old man winter is going to be around longer than Phil predicts.

There’s no getting around it, the snow is here but it will soon melt away.

You may not think of it in this way, but the snow is a gift. Some may be screaming, “Let’s get the receipt and return it.” Well that’s not possible. What we can do is embrace it. So let’s turn our attention to love.

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day and I hope you were able to share a loving moment with someone close to you.

Here’s a little fun fact about Valentine’s Day. It’s named after St. Valentine, a clergyman in the 3rd century who ministered to persecuted Christians.

The custom of sending Valentines on February 14 stems from a medieval belief that birds began to pair on that day.

His day has been associated with “courtly love” –– a medieval European literary conception of love that emphasized nobility and chivalry.

Celebration of this day has evolved since then. But it hasn’t lost its flavor. Couples come together to form relationships, fall in love, build a family, and foster a lifestyle that benefits the community. This is accomplished not only through the events on this one day, but how couples live out their life together over time.

In St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he writes, “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (13:4-5, 7).

From the time when God created humankind out of love, that same love is to be shared without regard. It’s truly a gift that doesn’t come with a hefty price tag. It’s only when material things are added to love that the cost can be a burden.

Think about it, it’s the little gestures that can sometimes have the largest impact.

Not long ago someone shared with me an event she and her daughter witnessed in a parking lot. The event is nothing out of the ordinary, I’m sure it happens all the time.

The event they witnessed was a husband opening the car door for his wife then closing it once she got in. Now that’s nothing spectacular, but the daughter found it so cute that he would do that for his wife. Now the mom remarked that her husband does the same for her, but the daughter saw it differently when seeing others do it. This one act of kindness, one small gesture, sparked a conversation between the two that lasted from that parking lot until they arrived home. That’s a public witness to “courtly love” –– a sense of celebrating Valentine’s Day every day.

Society has a contrived definition of love. The word is tossed around so much that society as a whole would have a difficult time defining it. Go back to the beginning. God created humankind out of love, there’s our source. One must unite and remain with the source if they are to share that love with others.

Jesus commanded His followers to “love one another as I love you” (JN15:12).

Love is the thread that binds us to those around us; it binds us to Jesus; and most importantly, it binds us to the Father.

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