By Susan Gately - 12 February, 2017
In his document on The Joy of Love (Amoris Laetitia), Pope Francis refers directly to Saint Valentine’s Day as an opportunity for couples to celebrate the importance of romantic love by gifting their time and attention to one another rather than simply relying on the more commercial approaches to the saint’s day.
Taking this as a starting point, the World Meeting of Families 2018 is offering Saint Valentine’s Day Gift Tokens with a difference. These vouchers commit the giver to performing a simple act of love for the other person, to celebrate their love and help it grow.
Vouchers are free and available from cathedrals across Ireland, the Knock Shrine, Veritas, and Accord Marriage Care centres. They may also be downloaded on the World Meeting of Families 2018 website: www.worldmeeting2018.ie/stvalentinesday.
The vouchers, marked ‘A token of my affection’, are good for things such as ‘Loads of tender hugs’ and ‘A journey down memory lane: take time to remember how we met and have grown together’. Mothers may particularly appreciate getting the voucher for ‘A special dinner cooked by me!’ from their husbands, whereas their husbands may like to receive ‘A technology-free evening to do an activity of your choice’.
But the voucher comes with ‘terms and conditions’: “This is a special Joy of Love gift token to celebrate our love and to help it grow. You can redeem this token over the next couple of days and I, on my part, will do my best to fulfil it.”
Available too from the World Meeting of Families 2018 (WMOF2018) website is a two page flyer, which might help couples with another of the voucher pledges: ‘Set aside time for prayer together as a couple’, which includes a short prayer service, a reflection from Pope Francis on the secret to a successful relationship, and a prayer for those seeking a spouse.
Dublin, which is hosting the World Meeting of Families in August 2018, is the city where the reliquary containing the remains of Saint Valentine is located. WMOF2018 is inviting people to visit the shrine in Whitefriar Street Church and to pray through Saint Valentine’s intercession to find a partner for life, or grow in the love they have already found.
The World Meeting of Families, with the theme, ‘The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World’, will take place in Dublin from 22 to 26 August 2018. At its heart the festival will have three main moments.
Firstly, from the 22 to 24 August, there will be a three-day Congress for all with workshops, talks and discussions centred around its theme as well as a parallel programme for children and young people.
On Saturday 25 August, there will be the Festival of Families – a special concert-style event where families from all over the world will share their stories of faith.
Finally, on Sunday 26 August, WMOF2018 will close with a solemn Eucharistic Celebration, which will gather thousands of people from Ireland and all over the world. The event will include exhibitions, cultural events and musical performances, events around the city, gestures of solidarity with those in need, and celebrations.
The World Meeting of Families takes place every three years. The most recent meeting was in Philadelphia in September 2015. In the coming months, as a preparation for the international gathering, a programme of pre-catechesis will be offered to parishes and families based largely on the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) to encourage reflection on different aspects of being family in the Church and in the world today.