JARO, Iloilo City, Feb. 14, 2015 — Posh hotels… Expensive restaurants… Which is the best place to celebrate Valentine’s Day?

A priest serving in the youth ministry says the most meaningful way for young people to celebrate Valentine’s Day is to spend it with the family.

Fr. Rafael Luis Clavel, Director of the Jaro Archdiocesan Youth Commission (JAYC) (Photo from Fr. Clavel's Facebook account)

Fr. Rafael Luis Clavel, Director of the Jaro Archdiocesan Youth Commission (JAYC), in an interview with CBCP News, said it is in the family where every member learns “selfless love”, which is love in the truest sense.

Substitute loves

“When Pope Francis talked about what constitutes real he said, first of all, ‘Real love is about loving and letting yourselves be loved’,” said Clavel, recalling the pontiff’s message during the encounter with the youth at the University of Santo Tomas on Jan. 18.

“We can understand the Pope’s saying that real love does not only involve self-sacrifice, but also being open to accept the love of God and of other people. What better place to experience and learn this love than in the family?” the youth minister explained.

From years of experience in the youth ministry, Clavel observed that many young people nowadays, when they do not find love in their own families, seek ‘substitute loves’ outside the home, through fleeting relationships.

“Sadly, these ‘substitute loves’, more often than not” the priest lamented, “turn out to be ‘fake loves’ or non-committal relationships usually accompanied by the use of alcohol, drugs, contraceptives or condoms.”

Being examples of forgiveness

Clavel challenged young people and older family members as well to learn to face the joys and the difficulties that family life brings.
“Let us not forget,” Clavel stressed, “what the Pope said at the encounter with families in the Mall of Asia Arena:’Families will always have their trials, but… be living examples of love, forgiveness and care.’”

In the context of the Filipino family, the priest observed that each one should learn how to be examples of forgiveness.

“We, Filipinos, are naturally affectionate and meticulous in taking care of people but we are also prone to harbour hurts and resentments (“pagtatanim ng galit at tampo”) which could lead to breakdown of families,” Clavel warned.

From all these considerations the priest concluded, “Valentine’s Day, more than a celebration of ‘sweet nothings’, is an opportunity to welcome God once more to the family, a time of grace, of forgiveness and of reconciliation.” (Fr. Mickey Cardenas/CBCPNews)