The last straw was the TV commercial for JC Penney encouraging everyone to “buy gifts for all your Valentines” and, of course, “use your JC Penney card” and get in even more debt after the Christmas binge of gift buying.

I wanted to throw my remote at the TV, but managed to refrain. I have picked up pieces of remote before and never found all the pieces.

Valentines Day and I have had a love/hate relationship with each other since the year John Grayden dissed me, but gave a Valentine card to that kiss-up Tina. I say kiss-up, because she always acted like she hated boys, and would squeal when they paid attention to her. And they paid a lot of attention to her. But that's for me and my therapist to work out.

Those of you who have a similar relationship with Valentine’s Day think it's a conspiracy holiday created by greeting card companies and candy companies to sell more cards and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates. They have definitely jumped on the bandwagon, but that's not where the feast originated.

Yes, feast. The feast of St. Valentinus of Rome, martyr. The first St. Valentine is believed to have been a priest in the early 3rd century who was willing to secretly marry young couples against the law of the land, which forbid marriage during the current war. It seems that the emperor thought young men fought better if they held on to all that love and they weren't married or had children. More love = better war? I don't think that would make for a great bumpersticker.

Valentine was martyred for breaking this law. And you think the Kodiak Borough Code is strict!

So, St. Valentinus was honored by the Catholic and Anglican churches for hundreds of years, until someone began to doubt that he was a real person. Bah humbug! It seems that I’m not the only one to have experienced unrequited love.

In fact, for most of the first part of my life, I was anti-marriage. The only marriages I had seen were alcoholic, conflict-ridden, with lots of abuse. My paternal grandfather shot his second wife and then himself. I begged my parents to get a divorce.

But then I was ordained a priest, and started to meeting with couples who wished to marry. I could see something very different in them than I had seen as a kid. There was another level of love in most of them that I would be willing to call “Agape,” the highest form of love, given by God, with the kind of sacramental power to make two people One.

And I became open to that kind of love, and was married to the love of my life the second year of my priesthood.

So, now that I'm older and wiser, and have indeed experienced true love, I appreciate St. Valentinus for what he was willing to give his life to preserve.

A wonderful way to celebrate St. Valentine's legacy of Agape love is happening here in Kodiak — Hospice of Kodiak is hosting its annual Give Your Heart to Hospice fundraiser.

Now that's love. No, not the fundraiser (although it's a great way to indirectly support love). I'm talking about the love fostered by hospice, and the love given to dying loved ones who have terminal illness. I know because I've been there. My husband of 2 1/2 years died of colon cancer. The last year we spent together involved way too many doctor visits and tests and hoping and praying, and it might have broken us if Hospice of the Valley in Phoenix hadn't been there for us.

It's sickness and health, 'til-death-do-us-part kind of love that I knew did not originate with me. I became a believer in Agape love.

Which is not what is being celebrated when you give the whole class a Valentine (except one kid), or you buy gifts for all your Valentines, or you feel pressured into getting a rose for your wife because you are afraid she will be angry if you don't.

Agape love isn't an expectation. It's a response to God's love that you want to freely give. Even if it costs your life. Thanks St. Valentinus!

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