Valentine’s Day may not be everyone’s favorite holiday, but it’s an important reminder, to me, of our mission to love.

For us, love is more than a value, more than a word we hang on a wall. Love is the how and the why of the work we do. Love is what makes our approach to serving people in need different from that of others who admirably serve. In many cases, service is a matter of obligation, a sense of duty, something we feel we owe. That’s okay. It’s meaningful to serve those in need for those reasons. But for all of us at Catholic Charities, love is the core belief that drives us to want to help our clients improve their lives.

I think of our friends Kenice Fleming and Eileen Williamson. They’ve been best friends since they met through Gallagher Services many years ago. They understand each other and support each other, and when one of them does well, the other is pleased. When one is struggling, the other reaches out to help. Eileen summarized it in four words recently: “She keeps me happy.”

For us, love is a verb. It’s an action we choose to take. Every time we reach out to meet someone where they are in their need, to follow up, to take another step with them, we do it because we choose to act on love. Often it’s not pretty, or easy, or even particularly compelling. So Valentine’s Day is a reminder of the importance of bringing love and kindness to everything we do, and knowing what it can bring about. It’s simple, really:

Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

1 Cor. 13, 4 – 8

Happy Valentine’s Day. Thank you for acting in love.