Msgr. Ralph J. Chieffo

Msgr. Ralph J. Chieffo

“Love is the active concern for the life and growth for the one you love.” Julie Geisel Davis, St. Mary Magdalen School, class of 2000

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day, did you know this story? St. Valentine was a bishop of Rome in the third century. The Emperor Claudius II banned all marriages in Rome so that he could have more unattached men for his army. Valentine defied the emperor’s order and married couples in secret. He was ultimately arrested, beaten and beheaded. Valentine truly witnessed to the sacrificial love of Christ.

As we send our Valentines greeting to those we love, St. Valentine reminds us that we must be ready and willing to suffer and sacrifice for those we love. Even Cupid afflicts with an arrow through our heart to remind us that the more we suffer for the good of others, the more we become one in mind and heart with those we serve.

As we begin the Lenten season of hope and healing from sin to salvation, Jesus invites us to the desert to fast and pray so that we can practice the spiritual and corporal works of charity. Satan tempts Jesus to instant gratification for power, pleasure and prestige. Jesus chooses to trust in the will of the Father to sacrifice himself: “You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.” As human beings, only God can nourish our physical health, emotional peace, mental sanity, social responsibilities and spiritual love for eternal life.

Moses reminds all Jews and Christian disciples that we can wonder and worry alone or entrust our lives to obeying God’s commandments. If we follow God’s plan, we are guaranteed the power of the Holy Spirit to grace and guide us. The psalmist sings out: “No evil shall befall you, nor shall affliction come near your tent, for to his angels he has given command about you, that they guard you in all your ways.” St. Augustine said it simply, “You will not be tested beyond your strength.”

Of course, we must also offer our human cooperation and effort. St. Paul labored day and night after his conversion and assures us: “No one who believes in him will be put to shame … for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

One of the new parent interviews for our school was Julie Geisel Davis. Julie graduated from SMM School in 2000. Julie and her husband Rocky value and desire Catholic education. I asked her how she is enjoying the challenge of marriage and mothering her two children. She quickly replied: “My Catholic formation taught me that ‘Love is the active concern for the life and growth for the one you love.’”


Msgr. Ralph J. Chieffo is pastor of St. Mary Magdalen Parish, Media.