February 10:  St. Valentine Day is this Saturday. Gotta a riddle for all of you: “What kind of flowers do squirrels send their sweethearts? The answer is “Forget-Me-NUTS.” Oh. those silly squirrels!!  So who was St. Valentine anyways? My Sheltie knowledge (and my Dad’s computer) found the following:

On February 14 around the year 278 A.D., Valentine, a holy priest in Rome in the days of Emperor Claudius II, was executed. Under the rule of Claudius, Rome was involved in many unpopular and bloody campaigns. The emperor had to maintain a strong army, but was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues. Claudius believed that Roman men were unwilling to join the army because of their strong attachment to their wives and families. To get rid of the problem, Claudius banned all marriages and engagements in Rome. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Valentine was arrested and dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off. The sentence was carried out on February 14, on or about the year 270. Legend also has it that while in jail, St. Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer's daughter, who had become his friend, and signed it "From Your Valentine." For his great service, Valentine was named a saint after his death. Now you know! Go and spread the love!!

February 3:  Sunday Feb. 3rd is the Feast of St. Blaise, the Saint well-known for the blessing of throats!  Using my Sheltie knowledge, let me tell you about this cool Saint!
We actually know more about the devotion to Saint Blaise by Christians around the world than we know about the Saint himself.  
We know that Bishop Blaise was martyred in his episcopal city of Sebastea, Armenia, in 316. The legendary Acts of St. Blaise were written 400 years later. According to them, Blaise was a good bishop, working hard to encourage the spiritual and physical health of his people. Although the Edict of Toleration (311), granting freedom of worship in the Roman Empire, was already five years old, persecution still raged in Armenia. Blaise was apparently forced to flee to the back country. There he lived as a hermit in solitude and prayer, but he made friends with the wild animals. One day a group of hunters seeking wild animals for the amphitheater stumbled upon Blaise’s cave. They were first surprised and then frightened. The bishop was kneeling in prayer surrounded by patiently waiting wolves, lions and bears.

The legend has it that as the hunters hauled Blaise off to prison, a mother came with her young son who had a fish bone lodged in his throat.  At Blaise’s command, the child was able to cough up the bone.  Agricolaus, governor of Cappadocia, tried to persuade Blaise to sacrifice to pagan idols. The first time Blaise refused, he was beaten. The next time he was suspended from a tree and his flesh torn with iron combs or rakes. Finally, he was beheaded.

January 27:  So, if I were to ask you to write down the 10 commandments, would you be able to do so??  These basic principles that come to us from God—it’s amazing how many people do not have them committed to memory.  For those who need a refresher in these basic truths of our lives, they are:
--I am the Lord your God. You shall not have  false gods before me. 
--Thou shall not take the  name of the Lord  thy God in vain.
--Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day!
--Honor thy father and mother.
--Thou shall not kill.
--Thou shall not commit adultery.
--Thou shall not steal.
 --Thou shall not bear false witness against   thy neighbor.
--Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s wife.
--Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s   goods.
It’s important to remember God didn’t say these were 10 suggestions!!  It’s important to know and live these tenets of our faith.  There would certainly be a lot more order in our world if God’s Word was heard and obeyed, you think?  Perhaps it could all start at home! 

January 20:  Two squirrels were conversing with each other wondering about the liturgical church year, the calendar for the church!  They knew that he Feast of the Baptism of our Lord marks the end of the Christmas Season, but on the very same day is the 1st Sunday of Ordinary Time.  We all know what is so special about the Christmas Season, but what makes Ordinary Time so special?  Well I had to remind them that every season of the church was special, it’s just that Ordinary Time doesn’t have a specific event it commemorates!

For example, Advent is all about the anticipation and preparation of Christ’s birth, right?  And of course Christmas IS the celebration of the birth of Jesus.  Lent is a longer time that prepares us for the Resurrection of Jesus.  We all know that prayer, fasting and almsgiving are practiced during Lent.  And of course Easter is the awesomist season of all celebrating the Risen Christ. 

Well, Ordinary Time is the season outside of Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter.  We are reminded that Christ is with us, even in the most ordinary times of our lives – which makes the most ordinary times Extraordinary!!  This is a split season, which will last until Ash Wednesday (this year March 6) and commence at Pentecost Sunday, which is June 9th. 

 For more of Maggie's musings, see our online bulletin archives.  Maggie's column appears on page 3