St. Valentine has the reputation as the patron saint of love, but how this connection was made is the subject of many questionable tales and lore. Nonetheless, the occasion is a great time to reflect on friendships and the true meaning of love--willing the ultimate good of another.
St. Valentine, lover of Christ and of the Church, we ask your intercession that we may learn how to love God above all things and to love one another selflessly!
Works of Love
Amanda (whose name has been changed to preserve anonymity) was a reserved young adult at the crossroads of adolescence and adulthood, when she was first introduced to Ride On St. Louis. She had a self-described difficult home life, experienced abuse from a partner, and had a tense relationship with her mother. She thought about suicide often and would intentionally harm herself as a way to cope with her traumas. “Anxiety was constant,” she recalls. Her self-esteem was fading and at times, she felt hopeless. “I believed that I was worthless. I would get up in the morning, but I wasn’t motivated to do anything, I didn’t really enjoy my life,” Amanda shared. “I would drill [negative remarks] into my head until all I believed were the awful things people had said to me. I felt like I was a burden. I truly believed I would be better off dead.” Please read that sentence again. That is a difficult statement to digest, but that was Amanda’s every day. At the time Amanda began participating in our Barn Buddies program, she was intentionally distancing herself from friends and family, and was at the precipice of the most challenging time in her life.
“I was swimming in negativity constantly, [but] I was afraid to talk about what I was going through. I wondered what would make me break. I was terrified I would never stop feeling hatred towards myself. I was able to get through all of it because Ride On St. Louis had given me a purpose. As a client in their Barn Buddies program, I was given the opportunity to learn the basics of horse care, and with that, the opportunity to be a part of something more. After witnessing a session with clients for the first time, I was inspired. I knew I would continue my work with this program because the work I was doing wasn’t just benefitting me. I love watching clients light up [around the] horses; it’s a reminder of why I come to do my role. [Ride On St. Louis] truly cares for everyone who walks in the door seeking help. I was at my lowest and they took the time to listen while they worked with me.”
Amanda made monumental improvements as she progressed in the program. Her psychologist shared that she no longer felt Amanda needed her aid for mental health sessions, and Amanda said she hasn’t thought about suicide or self-harm in over a year, now. She’s in a better place with her friends and family relationships, including her mother, has interests and hobbies, and authored and illustrated a book of poems.
Thanks to the monthly support of our Crusader Circle members, Amanda and others in this program have never had to pay a penny for service.
Prayer on St. Valentine's Day
Grant, we beseech thee, O Almighty God, that we who solemnize the festival of blessed Valentine, Thy Martyr, may, by his intercession, be delivered from all the evils that threaten us. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.