Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Most Important Thing

Before it is a movie about sports, before it is about determination and an inspiring story about an underdog, it is a love story. Rocky is first and foremost a love story. Love -- love is the most important thing. And because it is, Rocky is actually a winner at the end. It is love which makes us a world champion.

They've known each other for a long time, both thought by others and themselves to be losers in life. And when they go on their first date, shortly before Thanksgiving and before Rocky has been offered a shot at the championship, it really is one of the more charming love scenes in film.

Love is life. But, eventually the life of the one we love will end. By the time of Rocky Balboa, Adrian has died, their son is struggling in his life, and Paulie is broken and lost.

Love is life. As we discussed below, love is not always easy -- life is not always easy. But it is necessary to go on, to not let yourself get beaten down. That "is how winning is done," in life and in love.

Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done!

Now if you know what you're worth then go out and get what you're worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain't you! You're better than that!

I'm always gonna love you no matter what. No matter what happens. You're my son and you're my blood. You're the best thing in my life. But until you start believing in yourself, ya ain't gonna have a life. Don't forget to visit your mother.
But when life, or love, seeks to beat us down, we do not have to fight the fight alone. We don't have to take the hits alone or try to move forward alone. As the very first scene in Rocky shows, which begins with a painting of Christ before panning down to a fight, we have Someone in our corner ready to help.


Monday, November 14, 2011

An Encyclical on Human Love

All this talk about marriage, but what about sex? Often in discussions about Church teachings on marriage and family, the issues of sex and contraception, etc., are more or less front and center, and practically nothing has been said here about them before now. Even when, in the discussions, the terms "unitive" and "fruitful" have been used below, there has been no talk of sex, only love -- but aren't those components primarily about sex?

Unfortunately, there is a great deal of confusion about the Church's teachings on human sexuality. Much of that confusion is caused by a hyper-sexualized culture that has been corrupted by a utilitarian mind-set, but some of that confusion is brought about by the manner of presentation of those teachings, especially with respect to Humanae Vitae, as well as Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body.

Properly understood, the Church's teachings on human sexuality are not unique, stand-alone teachings -- there is no reinvention of the moral wheel when it comes to human sexuality. Rather, if we understand what love is, if we come to learn about and know what authentic love is, if we simply truly and fully love the other, then all the sexual issues will take care of themselves.
The Truth of the Encyclical Humanae Vitae
by Karol Cardinal Wojtyla, Archbishop of Krakow, Poland
as published in L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
16 January 1969, page 6

A correct and penetrating analysis of conjugal love presupposes an exact idea of marriage itself. Marriage is not "the product of unconscious natural forces" (H.v. 8), it is "the communion of beings" (H.v. 8) based on their reciprocal gift of self.

And for this reason, a correct judgment of responsible parenthood presupposes "an integral vision of man and of his vocation" (H.v. 7). To acquire such a judgment "the partial perspectives — whether of the biological, psychological, demographic or sociological orders" (H.v. 7) are not at all sufficient. None of these views can constitute a basis for an adequate and just answer to the questions [about regulating birth]. Every answer that comes from a partial view can only be a partial one.

In order to find an adequate answer, it is necessary to have a correct vision of man as a being, since marriage establishes a communion of beings which is born and brought about through their mutual gift of self. Conjugal love is characterized by the elements which result from such a communion of beings and which correspond to the personal dignity of the man and the woman, of the husband and the wife.

It is a matter of total love, or love which involves the whole man: his sensitivity, his affectivity, and his spirituality, which must be both faithful and exclusive. This love "is not exhausted in the communion between husband and wife but it is destined to continue raising up new lives" (H.v. 9); it is therefore fruitful love. This loving communion of a married couple, through which they constitute, according to the words of Genesis 2, 24, "a single body" is a kind of condition of fruitfulness, a condition of procreation. This communion being a particular type — since it is corporeal, it is in the strict sense "sexual" — of realization of the conjugal communion between beings, must be brought about at the level of the person and must befit his dignity. It is on this basis that one must form an exact judgment of responsible parenthood. . . .

Parenthood which comes from love between persons is "responsible parenthood." One could say that in the Encyclical "Humanae vitae" responsible parenthood becomes the proper name for human procreation.

This basically positive judgment of responsible parenthood, however, requires some further explanation. . . . According to the doctrine of the Church, responsible parenthood is not and cannot be only the effect of a certain "technique" of conjugal collaboration: in fact, it has primarily and "per se" an ethical value. . . .

Love is the communion of persons. If parenthood, and responsible parenthood, correspond to this love, then the way of acting which leads to such parenthood, cannot be morally indifferent. In fact, it decides whether the sexual activity of the communion of persons is or is not authentic love. "By safeguarding both these essential aspects, the unitive and the procreative, the conjugal act preserves in its fullness the sense of true mutual love..." (H.v. 12). . . .

The encyclical of Paul VI as a document of the supreme Magisterium of the Church presents the teaching of the human and Christian ethic in one of its key points. The truth of "Humanae vitae" is therefore primarily a normative truth. It reminds us of the principles of morality, which constitute the objective norm. This norm is even written in the human heart . . .

The responsibility of parenthood, to which the entire encyclical is principally dedicated, itself speaks of [the value of human life, that is, of that life already conceived and blossoming in the living together of the married couple].

The fact that, in the encyclical, this value of life already conceived or in its origin is not examined within the framework of procreation as the purpose of marriage, but rather within the vision of the love and the responsibility of the partners, places the value of human life itself in a new light.

Man and woman in their matrimonial life together, which is a living together of persons, must in and of itself create a new human person. The conceiving of a person by means of persons — this is the just measure of values which must be used here. This is, at the same time, the just measure of the responsibility which must guide human parenthood. . . .

The encyclical "Humanae vitae" contains not only clear and explicit norms for married life, conscious parenthood and a correct regulation of birth, but through these norms, it indicates the values. It confirms their correct meaning and warns us against false meanings. It expresses a profound solicitude to safeguard man from the danger of altering the most fundamental values.

One of the most fundamental values is that of human love. Love has its source in God who "is Love." Paul VI places this revealed truth at the beginning of his penetrating analysis of conjugal love because it expresses the highest value which must be recognized in human love. Human love is rich in the experiences of which it consists, but its essential richness consists in being a communion of persons, that is of a man and a woman, in their mutual self-giving. Conjugal love is enriched through the authentic giving of one person to another person. It is this mutual giving of self which must not be altered. If in marriage there is to be the realization of authentic love of persons through the giving of bodies, that is, through the "bodily union" of the man and the woman, then out of regard for the value of the love itself, this mutual gift of self cannot be altered in any aspect of the interpersonal conjugal act. . . .

In various fields, man dominates nature and subordinates it to himself through the use of artificial means. The sum total of these means in a certain sense is equivalent to progress and civilization. In this field, however, where love between one person and another is expressed through the marital act, and where the person must authentically give himself (and "give" also means "to receive" reciprocally) the use of artificial means is equivalent to an alteration of the act of love. . . .

This love is also expressed in continence — even in periodic continence - since love is capable of giving up the marital act, but it cannot give up the authentic gift of the person. Renouncing the marital act can be in certain circumstances an authentic gift of self. Paul VI writes in this regard: "...this discipline which is proper to the purity of married couples, far from harming conjugal love, rather confers on it a higher human value" (H.v. 21).

In expressing the thoughtful concern for the authentic value of human love, the encyclical "Humanae vitae" addresses man and calls upon his sense of dignity as a person. In fact, man and woman in marriage must realize this love, according to its authentic value. The capacity for such love and the capacity for the authentic giving of self demand from both partners the sense of personal dignity. The experience of sexual value must be permeated by a vivid awareness of the value of the person. . . .

The questions which agitate modern man "required from the teaching authority of the Church a new and deeper reflection upon the principles of the moral teaching on marriage: a teaching founded on the natural law, illuminated and enriched by divine Revelation." Revelation as the expression of the eternal thought of God permits us, and at the same time commands us, to consider marriage as an institution for transmitting human life, in which the marriage partners are "the free and responsible collaborators of God the creator" (H.v. 1).

Christ himself confirmed this perpetual dignity of married persons and He inserted the totality of married life into the work of the Redemption, and He included it in the sacramental order. By the sacrament of Marriage "husband and wife are strengthened and as it were consecrated for the faithful accomplishment of their proper duties, for the carrying out of their proper vocation even to perfection, and the Christian witness which is proper to them before the whole world" (H.v. 25). Since the doctrine of Christian morality was set forth in the encyclical, the doctrine of responsible parenthood understood as the just expression of conjugal love and of the dignity of the human person, constitutes an important component of the Christian witness. . . .

Saturday, November 12, 2011

All You Need Is Love

To Love is to Suffer

All this talk about suffering caused by love. It's all so serious! Can't we have a few light-hearded moments? Can't we lighten the mood a bit here?

I hope you're getting this down.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Beauty in the Suffering Caused by Love

Pope Benedict has said often that there can be no love without suffering. If one loves, one must suffer, be it, for example, the suffering caused by loss of the other or by having to come out of the safety of our shells, vulnerable to infidelity or injury done by the one we love or by love not being returned. If we did not love, none of these things would matter, but because we do love, or at least seek to love, instead of the joy we want, we get pain.
In the end, even the “yes” to love is a source of suffering, because love always requires expropriations of my “I,” in which I allow myself to be pruned and wounded. Love simply cannot exist without this painful renunciation of myself, for otherwise it becomes pure selfishness and thereby ceases to be love. . . .

[Yet,] in all human suffering we are joined by One who experiences and carries that suffering with us; hence con-solatio is present in all suffering, the consolation of God's compassionate love — and so the star of hope rises. (Spe Salvi 38, 39)
To love is to suffer. But we are not alone in that suffering. Pope Benedict also says that there can be, paradoxically, a kind of beauty in the ugliness of that suffering, as Luciano Pavarotti demonstrates below. And because there can be beauty in the pain of love, there is again hope -- hope that it is not all pain, not all anguish, but that the suffering can be transcended and transformed.
In [marital] crises, in bearing the moment in which it seems that no more can be borne, new doors and a new beauty of love truly open. A beauty consisting of harmony alone is not true beauty. Something is missing, it becomes insufficient. True beauty also needs contrast. Darkness and light complement each other. Even a grape, in order to ripen, does not only need the sun but also the rain, not only the day but also the night. . . .

We must put up with and transcend this suffering. Only in this way is life enriched. I believe that the fact the Lord bears the stigmata for eternity has a symbolic value. As an expression of the atrocity of suffering and death, today the stigmata are seals of Christ's victory, of the full beauty of his victory and his love for us. We must accept, both as priests and as married persons, the need to put up with the crises of otherness, of the other, the crisis in which it seems that it is no longer possible to stay together.

Husbands and wives must learn to move ahead together, also for love of the children, and thus be newly acquainted with one another, love one another anew with a love far deeper and far truer. So it is that on a long journey, with its suffering, love truly matures. (Pope Benedict, Meeting with the priests of the Italian Diocese of Albano, August 31, 2006)
It is not only in "Per la gloria d'adorarvi" that Luciano Pavarotti makes the suffering born of love sound beautiful. There is also Pagliacci.

In this famous scene, Canio, who plays a clown in a traveling troupe of players, has just learned that his wife Nedda, whom he dearly loves, no longer loves him, if she ever did, but loves another instead. But despite his suffering, it is necessary to go on. The show goes on. The people want their laughs. Life goes on. Regardless of what has been said before about love, even with tears streaming down his face because his heart is tragically broken, even though his love is smashed on the rocks, life demands that he go and play the clown.

Recitar! Mentre preso dal delirio, non so più quel che dico, e quel che faccio!
Eppur è d'uopo, sforzati!
Bah! Sei tu forse un uom? Tu se' Pagliaccio!

(Act! While in delirium, I no longer know what I say, or what I do!
And yet it's necessary... make an effort!
Bah! Are you not a man? You are a clown!)

Vesti la giubba, e la faccia infarina.
La gente paga, e rider vuole qua.
E se Arlecchin t'invola Colombina,
ridi, Pagliaccio, e ognun applaudirà!
Tramuta in lazzi lo spasmo ed il pianto
in una smorfia il singhiozzo e 'l dolor, Ah!

(Put on your costume, powder your face.
The people pay to be here, and they want to laugh.
And if Harlequin shall steal your Columbina,
laugh, clown, so the crowd will cheer!
Turn your distress and tears into jest,
your pain and sobbing into a funny face – Ah!)

Ridi, Pagliaccio, sul tuo amore infranto!
Ridi del duol, che t'avvelena il cor!

(Laugh, clown, at your broken love!
Laugh at the grief that poisons your heart!)

Per la gloria d'adorarvi (For the glory of adoring you)


Per la gloria d'adorarvi, voglio amarvi, o luci care.
Per la gloria d'adorarvi, voglio amarvi, o luci care.
Amando penero, ma sempre v'amerro.
Si, si, nel mio penare.
Amando penero, ma sempre v'amerro.
Si, si, nel mio penare.
Penerò, v'amerò, luci care.
Penerò, v'amerò, luci care.

(For the glory of adoring you, I love you, Oh dear light.
For the glory of adoring you, I love you, Oh dear light.
Loving I will suffer, but always I will love you.
Yes, yes, in my suffering.
Loving I will suffer, but always I will love you.
Yes, yes, in my suffering.
Suffering, I love you, my dear light.
Suffering, I love you, my dear light.)

Senza speme di diletto, vano affetto, e` sospirare.
Senza speme di diletto, vano affetto, e` sospirare.
Ma i vostri dolci rai,
Chi vagheggiar può mai e non, e non v'amare?
Ma i vostri dolci rai,
Chi vagheggiar può mai e non, e non v'amare?
Penerò, v'amerò, luci care.
Penerò, v'amerò, luci care!

(Without hope of delight is to long for vain affection.
Without hope of delight is to long for vain affection.
But your sweet rays,
Who could ever contemplate and not, and not love you?
But your sweet rays,
Who could ever contemplate and not, and not love you?
Suffering, I love you, my dear light.
Suffering, I love you, my dear light.)

--Ernesto's aria in Griselda, by Giovanni Bononcini.

As demonstrated here by the voice of Luciano Pavarotti, even when love involves pain and suffering, there still can be beauty.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What is Love?

We say it all the time -- "I love you." We think it all the time. And yet, we spend our entire lifetimes trying to figure out what love is. And some of us never figure out what it is. Some of us are clueless as to what love really is, and we spend our lifetimes looking and looking for it, in constant misery and unhappiness.

Below we asked, What is this thing called “love”? And now, here are a few possible answers to the question of love --
1. "The question of love is one that cannot be evaded. Whether or not you claim to be interested in it, from the moment you are alive you are bound to be concerned with love, because love is not just something that happens to you: It is a certain special way of being alive. Love is, in fact, an intensification of life, a completeness, a fullness, a wholeness of life." -Thomas Merton
2. "Love conquers all." -Virgil
3. "One word frees us of all the weight and pain in life. That word is Love." -Sophocles
4. (a) "Love is the joy of the good, the wonder of the wise, the amazement of the gods." (b) "At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet." -Plato
5. "Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies." -Aristotle
6. "Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul." -St. Augustine
7. "A life’s worth, in the end, isn’t measured in hours, or dollars. It’s measured by the amount of love exchanged along the way." -Douglas C. Means
8. "The essential sadness is to go through life without loving. But it would be almost equally sad to leave this world without ever telling those you loved that you love them." -Author Unknown
9. "Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own." -Robert Heinlein
10. "True love is eternal, infinite, and always like itself. It is equal and pure, without violent demonstrations: it is seen with white hairs and is always young in the heart." -Honore de Balzac
11. "When traveling the path of life, and finding love along the way, everything looks new and different. Little do you know it is the same old landscape you used to see all of the time; Love has just given you new eyes." -Author Unknown
12. "Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. The consciousness of loving and being loved brings a warmth and a richness to life that nothing else can bring. Who, being loved, is poor?" -Oscar Wilde
13. “If you have the will to love, you already give proof that you love. What counts is the will to love.” -St. Maximilian Kolbe
14. "You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly." -Sam Keen
15. "We don't love qualities, we love persons; sometimes by reason of their defects as well as of their qualities." -Jacques Maritain
16. "You don't love a woman because she's beautiful; she is beautiful because you love her." -Author Unknown
17. "A happy man marries the girl he loves; a happier man loves the girl he marries." -Author Unknown
18. "Love means to love that which is unlovable; or it is no virtue at all." -G.K. Chesterton
19. “We can genuinely love someone and be captivated by that person’s charm and wit, intelligence and sensitivity, unselfishness and caring —- and soon we feel a responsibility to overhaul what we think should be changed. This can tear the love relationship apart.” -Dianne Bergant
20. (a) “Falling in love is the first, and sadly for some couples the only, season of love. Often couples confuse infatuation with love. A husband might see his wife as he would like her to be —- a warm, caring person who always keeps his needs foremost in her mind. Who she truly is -— a woman who can be angry and upset with him at times -— is irrelevant.” (b) “Many couples miss the rollercoaster highs and lows of early romantic love. But as their love deepens, they will enjoy the beauty of phileo — the bond of friendship. Friendship love combines the intensity of romance with the stability of knowing a spouse is committed to learning how to appreciate you for who you are rather than what he or she thinks you should be. In this second season of love, couples begin to understand that love is a deliberate choice — not merely a feeling.” (c) “Real love involves an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person. That's when agape, or sacrificial love, begins to take root.” -Gary J. Oliver
21. “So often when we say ‘I love you,’ we say it with a huge ‘I’ and a small ‘you.’” -Antony, Russian Orthodox Archbishop of England
22. “Each day I love you more; today more than yesterday and less than tomorrow.” -Rosemonde Gérard
23. “Love is the magician, the enchanter, that changes worthless things to joy, and makes right royal kings and queens of common clay. It is the perfume of that wondrous flower, the heart, and without that sacred passion, that divine swoon, we are less than beasts; but with it, earth is heaven, and we are gods.” -Robert Green Ingersoll
24. “Jump out the window if you are the object of passion. Flee it if you feel it. Passion goes, boredom remains.” -Gabrielle (“Coco”) Chanel
25. "Fear? What is there to fear in love? Love is the very reason we live. To fear love is to lose all sense of living, And if we cannot love, then why have we been put here? Fearing love is like being afraid of breathing. It's not something to be scared of. It's something so natural that no one can resist." -Tyler's speech from "A Heartbeat Away"
26. “Many people have the mistaken idea that if you have married the right person you may expect to go on 'being in love' forever. As a result, when they find they are not, they think this proves they have made a mistake and are entitled to a change -— not realizing that, when they have changed, the glamour will presently go out of the new love just as it went out of the old one. In this department of life, as in every other, thrills come at the beginning and do not last. . . . Let the thrill go — let it die away — go on through that period of death into the quieter interest and happiness that follow — and you will find you are living in a world of new thrills all the time." –C.S. Lewis
27. "Infatuation is when you think he's as gorgeous as Robert Redford, as pure as Solzhenitsyn, as funny as Woody Allen, as athletic as Jimmy Connors and as smart as Albert Einstein. Love is when you realize that he's as gorgeous as Woody Allen, as smart as Jimmy Connors, as funny as Solzhenitsyn, as athletic as Albert Einstein and nothing like Robert Redford in any category — but you'll take him anyway." -Judith Voist
28. "It's not that I can't live without you, it's that I don't even want to try." -Author Unknown
29. "To love a person is to learn the song that is in their heart, and to sing it to them when they have forgotten." –Author Unknown
30. First Person -- “I have to love me first before I can go out and love others. Love has to be selfish. Isn’t that supposed to be the beginning of wisdom: ‘know thyself’? Doesn’t the Bible tell me I must love my neighbor as myself?”
Second Person -- “Poppycock! That’s not love. You don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re all smoke and mirrors. The way you toss it around, love becomes just another four-letter word. Love is giving, not satisfying one’s self. It’s reaching out to others, feeling for them, wanting to do for them — first. Then, as a resulting boon, favoring one’s self as a sidebar.” –Author Unknown
31. “Love is an old-fashioned, contemporary-eternal virtue. All the variations, the man-made interpretations, watered-down or blown-up versions for sale on today’s market, are just fluff that the winds of eternity will blow away. Love reflects God, and God is not to be mocked.” -Alma Roberts Giordan
32. “Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being 'in love' which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.” -Captain Corelli's Mandolin
33. (a) "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." (b) "True love begins when nothing is looked for in return." -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
34. "Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor... Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting." -Mother Teresa
35. "Love is something eternal; the aspect may change, but not the essence." -Vincent van Gogh
36. “Love is a symbol of eternity. It wipes out all sense of time, destroying all memory of a beginning and all fear of an end.” -- Author Unknown
37. “Love feels no burden, regards not labors, strives toward more than it attains, argues not of impossibility, since it believes that it may and can do all things. Therefore it avails for all things, and fulfils and accomplishes much where one not a lover falls and lies helpless.” -- Thomas a Kempis
38. "Love means the body, the soul, the life, the entire being. We feel love as we feel the warmth of our blood, we breathe love as we breathe air, we hold it in ourselves as we hold our thoughts. Nothing more exists for us." -Guy De Maupassant
39. (a) "Two souls with but a single thought, two hearts that beat as one." (b) "I cannot exist without you. I am forgetful of everything but seeing you again. My life seems to stop there, I see no further. You have absorb'd me. I have a sensation at the present moment as though I were dissolving. I have been astonished that men could die martyrs for religion... I have shudder'd at it... I shudder no more. I could be martyr'd for my religion: Love is my religion. I could die for that. I could die for you. My creed is love, and you are its only tenet. You have ravish'd me away by a power I cannot resist." -John Keats
40. “What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined together to strengthen each other in all labour, to minister to each other in all sorrow, to share with each other in all gladness, to be one with each other in the silent unspoken memories? I like not only to be loved, but to be told that I am loved." -George Elliot
41. "Love is everything it's cracked up to be. That's why people are so cynical about it...It really is worth fighting for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don't risk everything, you risk even more." - Erica Jong
42. “Even though still in bed, my thoughts go out to you, my Immortal Beloved, now and then joyfully, then sadly, waiting to learn whether or not fate will hear our prayer - To face life I must live altogether with you or never see you - Yes, I am resolved to be a wanderer abroad until I can fly to your arms and say that I have found my true home, and enfolded in your arms can let my soul be wafted to the realm of blessed spirits -- alas, unhappily it must be so -- You will become composed, the more so as you know that I am faithful to you; No one else can ever possess my heart - never - never - Oh God, why must one be separated from her who is so dear. . . . Your love has made me the happiest and the unhappiest of mortals . . . Be calm; for only by calm consideration of our lives can we achieve our purpose to live together - Be calm - love me - Today - yesterday - what tearful longing for you - for you - you - my life - my all - all good wishes to you. Oh continue to love me - never misjudge the most faithful heart of your lover. Ever yours, ever mine, ever ours.” –Ludwig van Beethoven
43. "To love is to receive a glimpse of heaven." -Karen Sunde
44. "Where love is, no room is too small." -The Talmud
45. "Love is not blind -- it sees more, not less. But because it sees more, it is willing to see less." --Rabbi J. Gordon
46. (a) "The reduction of the universe to a single being, the expansion of a single being even to God, this is love." (b) “To love another person is to see the face of God.” -Victor Hugo
47. "Perfect love is rare indeed - for to be a lover will require that you continually have the subtlety of the very wise, the flexibility of the child, the sensitivity of the artist, the understanding of the philosopher, the acceptance of the saint, the tolerance of the scholar and the fortitude of the certain." -Leo Buscaglia
48. "Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit." -Peter Ustinov
49. "Love means to commit oneself without guarantee, to give oneself completely in the hope that our love will produce love in the loved person. Love is an act of faith, and whoever is of little faith is also of little love." -Erich Fromm
50. “Every love is a giving birth, a conception that takes lover and beloved beyond themselves into an undiscovered country, a procreation. Love is always emigrant. . . . Love has no safe harbors, only interminable oceans. It must dare disturb the universe, and it will search out the expressions it needs for its work.” -David K. O’Connor
51. “The will of God is not an alien will, God’s will is not a heteronymous imposition that constricts the self, but is an invitation to the fulfillment of the self by living a life of love in response to the gift of love. Thus is eros purified and fulfilled.” -Fr. Richard John Neuhaus
52. (a) “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. / I love thee to the depth and breath and height / My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight / For the ends of Being and ideal Grace." (b) "Love doesn't make the world go round, love is what makes the ride worthwhile." -Elizabeth Barrett Browning
53. “Love does not just sit there, like a stone; it had to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.” -Ursula LeGuin
54. “The market mentality has permeated even our understanding of relationships, so that we tend to think of ourselves and others as products rather than as persons. Love, then, becomes a form of ‘salesmanship.’ It is simply a matter of selling ourselves. We attempt to make ourselves as attractive as possible so that others might ‘invest’ in us. . . . More and more we are taught that we must live up to particular cultural expectations in order to earn the ‘love’ of another and be worthy of investment. . . And yet the Christian tradition provides an alternative vision. As Nouwen powerfully states, ‘everything that Jesus has done, said, and undergone is meant to show us that the love that we most long for is given to us by God not because we deserved it, but because God is a God of love.’ This is the message that we need to hear: God profoundly loves us, just as we are! Our task is to trust in that unmerited love.” -Bridget Burke Ravizza
55. “My lover is like a gazelle or a young stag. Here he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattices. My lover speaks; he says to me, ‘Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come! For see, the winter is past, the rains are over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of pruning the vines has come, and the song of the dove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance. Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come!’” -Solomon, Song of Songs
56. “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, love is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” –St. Paul
57. “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. In this is love brought to perfection among us, that we have confidence on the day of judgment because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” –St. John
58. (a) "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments." (b) “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.” –Jesus of Nazareth
59. "Do you love me? . . . Do you love me? . . . Do you love me? . . . Follow me." –Jesus of Nazareth
60. "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." - John Lennon and Paul McCartney

Out of the Mouths of Babes - Children's Thoughts on Love

61. "I think you're supposed to get shot with an arrow or something, but the rest of it isn't supposed to be so painful." -Manuel, age 8
62. "Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good too." -Greg, age 8
63. "No one is sure why it happens, but I heard it has something to do with how you smell - that's why perfume and deodorant is so popular." -Mae, age 9
64. "One way is to take the girl out to eat. Make sure it's something she likes to eat. French fries usually works for me." -Bart, age 9
65. "Don't do things like have smelly, green sneakers. You might get attention, but attention ain't the same thing as love." -Alonzo, age 9
66. “When a person gets kissed for the first time, they fall down and they don't get up for at least an hour." -Wendy, age 8
67. "If you want to be loved by somebody who isn't already in your family, it doesn't hurt to be beautiful." -Anita, age 8
68. "I look at kissing like this: Kissing is fine if you like it, but it's a free country and nobody should be forced to do it." -Michael, age 8
69. "Don't say you love somebody and then change your mind. Love isn't like picking what movie you want to watch." -Natalie, age 9
70. "I'm not rushing into being in love. I'm finding fourth grade hard enough." -Regina, age 10

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Letters on Love from Father Karol Wojtyla

In 1950, during his time as a university chaplain and priest at St. Florian's church, Father Karol Wojtyla established the first marriage preparation program in the history of the Archdiocese of Kraków, as well as one of the first in the world. Before then, most marriage "preparation" consisted of a meeting or two with a priest, and that mostly to discuss the ceremony itself. However, as George Weigel reports in Witness to Hope, Fr. Wojtyla "set out to create a pastoral program that systematically prepared young couples for Christian marriage and family life through religious reflection, theological education and a frank exploration of the practical and personal difficulties and opportunities of married life and child rearing." (p. 97)

In addition, a network of friendships formed around Fr. Wojtyla. He called this active social group of young people his Rodzinka (little family). Members called him "Wujek" (uncle), partly out of affection and partly because calling him "Father" in public might arouse the suspicions of the state secret police. Some of these young men and women fell in love and later married. Others simply sought the counsel of Fr. Wojtyla. One of these was Teresa Heydel, who exchanged letters with him on the question of love.
December 1956

Dear Teresa,
People like to think that Wujek would like to see everyone married. But I think this is a false picture. The most important problem is really something else. Everyone...lives, above all, for love. The ability to love authentically, not great intellectual capacity, constitutes the deepest part of a personality. It is no accident that the greatest commandment is to love. Authentic love leads us outside ourselves to affirming others: devoting oneself to the cause of man, to people, and, above all, to God. Marriage makes sense...if it gives one the opportunity for such love, if it evokes the ability and necessity of such loving, if it draws one out of the shell of individualism (various kinds) and egocentrism. It is not enough simply to want to accept such love. One must know how to give it, and it’s often not ready to be received. Many times it’s necessary to help it to be formed.
- Wujek
The following month, Fr. Wojtyla wrote another letter to her about the nature of love and the human person.
January 1957

Dear Teresa,
Before I leave for Warsaw, I have to tell you a few things (think together with you): (1) I don’t want you ever to think this way: that life forces me to move away from the perspective of something that is better, riper, fuller, to something that is less good, less mature, less attractive. I am convinced that life is a constant development toward that which is better, more perfect — if there is no stagnation within us. (2) After many experiences and a lot of thinking, I am convinced that the (objective) starting point of love is the realization that I am needed by another. The person who objectively needs me most is also, for me, objectively, the person I most need. This is a fragment of life’s deep logic, and also a fragment of trusting in the Creator and in Providence. (3) People’s values are different and they come in different configurations. The great achievement is always to see values that others don’t see and to affirm them. The even greater achievement is to bring out of people the values that would perish without us. In the same way, we bring our values out in ourselves. (4) This is what I wanted to write you. Don’t ever think that I want to cut short your way. I want your way.
- Wujek
These ideas of love as gift, part of Karol Wojtyla's "personalist" ethic (which emphasizes respecting and loving others as "persons," and not using them as if they were "things," as is the case in utilitarianism), can be seen in The Jeweler's Shop and in Love and Responsibility, as well as in his later papal teachings. As Weigel summarizes in Witness to Hope, "This 'Law of Gift' was built into the human condition, he argued philosophically. Responsible self-giving, not self-assertion, was the road to human fulfillment. Wojtyla posed it not only as an ethic for Christians, but as a universal moral deman arising from the dynamics of the human person, who is truly a person only in relationship. A genuinely human existence was always coexistence, a meeting with others wisely." (pp. 136-37)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Unity of the Two Through the Gift of Self

In Act One of his play, The Jeweler's Shop, Blessed Karol Wojtyla tells the story of Andrew and Teresa, who had known each other for quite some time before they realized their love for each other. Andrew, in fact, had avoided her, even seeking to evade those thoughts of her that kept persisting in his mind. And when he proposed marriage, it was in a curious manner.
Teresa - Andrew has chosen me and asked for my hand. . . . We were just walking on the right side of the market square when Andrew turned around and said, "Do you want to be my life's companion?" That's what he said. He didn't say: do you want to be my wife, but: my life's companion. What he intended to say must have been thought over. He said it looking ahead . . . as if to signify that in front of us was a road whose end could not be seen. . . .

Andrew I don't think I even know what "love at first sight" means. After a time, I realized that she had come into the focus of my attention, I mean, I had to be interested in her. . . . There must have been something in Teresa that suited my personality. . . . It was not an assent independent of an act of will. I simply resisted sensation and the appeal of the senses, for I knew that otherwise I would never really leave my "ego" and reach the other person - but that meant an effort, for my senses fed at every step on the charms of the women I met. . . . gradually, I learned to value beauty accessible to the mind, that is to say, truth. . . .
I had wanted to regard love as passion, as an emotion to surpass all – I had believed in the absolute of emotion. And that is why I could not grasp the basis of that strange persistence of Teresa in me, the cause of her presence, the assurance of her place in my “ego,” or what creates around her that strange resonance, that feeling “you ought to.” . . . love can be a collision in which two selves realize profoundly that they ought to belong to each other, even though they have no convenient moods and sensations. It is one of these processes in the universe which bring a synthesis, unite what was divided, broaden and enrich what was limited and narrow.

Teresa - If I was not quite unprepared for his proposal it was because I felt that somehow I was the right one for him, and that I supposed I could love him. Being aware of that, I must already have loved him. . . .

Andrew The rings in the window appealed to us with a strange force. Now, they are just artifacts of precious metal, but it will be so only until that moment when I put one of them on Teresa’s finger, and she puts the other on mine. . . . The weddings rings did not stay in the window. The jeweler looked long into our eyes. Testing for the last time the fineness of precious metal, he spoke seriously, deep thoughts, which remained strangely in my memory.

The Jeweler The weight of these golden rings is not the weight of metal, but the proper weight of man, each of you separately and both together. Ah, man’s own weight, the proper weight of man! Can it be at once heavier, and yet more intangible? It is the weight of constant gravity, riveted to a short flight. The flight has the shape of a spiral, an ellipse – and the shape of the heart.
Ah, the proper weight of man! This rift, this tangle, this ultimate depth – this clinging, when it is so hard to unstick heart and thought. And in all this – freedom, a freedom, and sometimes frenzy, the frenzy of freedom trapped in this tangle. And in all this – love, which springs from freedom, as water springs from an oblique rift in the earth. This is man! He is not transparent, not monumental, not simple, in fact he is poor. This is one man – and what about two people, four, a hundred, a million – multiply all this (multiply the greatness by the weakness), and you will have the product of humanity, the product of human life. . . .

Chorus New people – Teresa and Andrew – two until now, but still not one, one from now on, though still two. . . . Ah, how man thirsts for feelings, how people thirst for intimacy. Teresa and Andrew. . . . Love – love pulsating in brows, in man becomes thought and will: the will of Teresa being Andrew, the will of Andrew being Teresa. . . .
How can it be done, Teresa, for you to stay in Andrew forever? How can it be done, Andrew, for you to stay in Teresa forever?
Since man will not endure in man and man will not suffice.
Body – thought passes through it, is not satisfied in the body – and love passes through it. . . .

Andrew And the jeweler, as I have already mentioned, looked at us in a peculiar way. His gaze was at once gentle and penetrating. I had a feeling he was watching us while he was selecting and weighing the rings. He then put them on our fingers to try them. I had the feeling that he was seeking our hearts with his eyes and delving into our past. Does he encompass the future too? The expression of his eyes combined warmth with determination. The future for us remains an unknown quantity, which we now accept without anxiety. Love has overcome anxiety. The future depends on love.

Teresa - The future depends on love.

Andrew At one point, my eyes once more met the gaze of the old jeweler. I felt just then that His gaze was not only sounding our hearts, but also trying to impart something to us. We found ourselves not only on the level of His gaze, but also on the level of His life. Our whole existence stood before Him. His eyes were flashing signals which we were not able to receive fully just then, as once we had been unable to receive fully the signals in the mountains – and yet, they reached to our inner hearts. And somehow we went in their direction, and they covered the fabric of our whole lives. . . .

[Act Three - many years later, Christopher, the son of Andrew and Teresa, considers his own love for Monica, the daughter of Anna and Stefan]

Christopher You have compelled me, Monica, to grasp my existence as an untold completeness, enhanced and delineated because you have drawn near. . . . We have to accept the fact that love weaves itself into our fate. . . . If I could take your freezing hands, warm them with my hands – a unity will emerge, a vision of new existence, which will embrace us both. . . .
Love is a constant challenge, thrown to us by God, thrown, I think, so that we should challenge fate. . . .
I cannot go beyond you. One does not love a person for his “easy character.” Why does one love at all? What do I love you for, Monica? Don’t ask me to answer. I couldn’t say. Love outdistances its object, or approaches it so closely that it is almost lost from view. Man must then think differently, must leave behind cold deliberations – and in that “hot thinking,” one question is important: Is it creative?
But even that he cannot tell, since he is so close to his object. When the wave of emotion subsides, what remains will be important.


Excerpts from The Jeweler's Shop (1960), translated by Boleslaw Taborksi (1980)
"There must have been something in Teresa that suited my personality. . . . It was not an assent independent of an act of will." Love is a choice. Even if the initial attraction to another is based on "something" in the other, something we perhaps cannot immediately put our finger on, as with Christopher, still the feeling of emotion stemming from such intangible attraction is not itself love. "When the wave of emotion subsides, what remains will be important." We must not confuse that initial rush and thrill that we might for being love, such emotions come and go, as happened with Anna and Stefan. Rather, properly understood, the occasion presents the choice to proceed further, to give our assent to love or not. It is an act of the will to make a gift of love or not give.

Such a gift of self in love necessarily requires a coming out of self, a letting go of ego, to allow the other to be part of you, and you a part of the other, "the will of Teresa being Andrew, the will of Andrew being Teresa." Such love is not something that "just happens," and the gift of self cannot be compelled. Love is choice. Love is an act of freedom - "a freedom, and sometimes frenzy, the frenzy of freedom trapped in [a] tangle. And in all this – love, which springs from freedom, as water springs from an oblique rift in the earth."

Monday, November 7, 2011

Love is Demanding: Finding Oneself by Giving Oneself

Letter to Families
Blessed Pope John Paul II
November 22, 1981
The unity of the two

8. The Second Vatican Council, in speaking of the likeness of God, uses extremely significant terms. It refers not only to the divine image and likeness which every human being as such already possesses, but also and primarily to "a certain similarity between the union of the divine persons and the union of God's children in truth and love."

This rich and meaningful formulation first of all confirms what is central to the identity of every man and every woman. This identity consists in the capacity to live in truth and love; even more, it consists in the need of truth and love as an essential dimension of the life of the person. Man's need for truth and love opens him both to God and to creatures: it opens him to other people, to life "in communion," and in particular to marriage and to the family. In the words of the Council, the "communion" of persons is drawn in a certain sense from the mystery of the Trinitarian "We," and therefore "conjugal communion" also refers to this mystery. The family, which originates in the love of man and woman, ultimately derives from the mystery of God. This conforms to the innermost being of man and woman, to their innate and authentic dignity as persons.

In marriage, man and woman are so firmly united as to become — to use the words of the Book of Genesis — "one flesh" (Gen 2:24). Male and female in their physical constitution, the two human subjects, even though physically different, share equally in the capacity to live "in truth and love." This capacity, characteristic of the human being as a person, has at the same time both a spiritual and a bodily dimension. It is also through the body that man and woman are predisposed to form a "communion of persons" in marriage. . . .

The sincere gift of self

11. After affirming that man is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, the Council immediately goes on to say that he cannot "fully find himself except through a sincere gift of self." This might appear to be a contradiction, but in fact it is not. Instead it is the magnificent paradox of human existence: an existence called to serve the truth in love. Love causes man to find fulfillment through the sincere gift of self. To love means to give and to receive something which can be neither bought nor sold, but only given freely and mutually.

By its very nature, the gift of the person must be lasting and irrevocable. The indissolubility of marriage flows in the first place from the very essence of that gift: the gift of one person to another person. This reciprocal giving of self reveals the spousal nature of love. In their marital consent the bride and groom call each other by name: "I... take you... as my wife (as my husband) and I promise to be true to you... for all the days of my life." A gift such as this involves an obligation much more serious and profound than anything which might be "purchased" in any way and at any price. Kneeling before the Father, from whom all fatherhood and motherhood come, the future parents come to realize that they have been "redeemed." They have been purchased at great cost, by the price of the most sincere gift of all, the blood of Christ of which they partake through the Sacrament. . . .

It is the Gospel truth concerning the gift of self, without which the person cannot "fully find himself," which makes possible an appreciation of how profoundly this "sincere gift" is rooted in the gift of God, Creator and Redeemer, and in the "grace of the Holy Spirit" which the celebrant during the Rite of Marriage prays will be "poured out" on the spouses. Without such an "outpouring," it would be very difficult to understand all this and to carry it out as man's vocation. Yet how many people understand this intuitively! Many men and women make this truth their own, coming to discern that only in this truth do they encounter "the Truth and the Life" (Jn 14:6). Without this truth, the life of the spouses and of the family will not succeed in attaining a fully human meaning. . . .

Love is demanding

14. Love is true when it creates the good of persons and of communities; it creates that good and gives it to others. Only the one who is able to be demanding with himself in the name of love can also demand love from others. Love is demanding. It makes demands in all human situations; it is even more demanding in the case of those who are open to the Gospel. Is this not what Christ proclaims in "His" commandment? Nowadays people need to rediscover this demanding love, for it is the truly firm foundation of the family, a foundation able to "endure all things." According to the Apostle, love is not able to "endure all things" if it yields to "jealousies," or if it is "boastful... arrogant or rude." True love, St. Paul teaches, is different: "Love believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (1 Cor 13:5-7). This is the very love which "endures all things." At work within it is the power and strength of God Himself, who "is love." (1 Jn 4:8, 16) At work within it is also the power and strength of Christ, the Redeemer of man and Savior of the world. . . .

The hymn to love in the First Letter to the Corinthians remains the Magna Charta of the civilization of love. In this concept, what is important is not so much individual actions (whether selfish or altruistic), so much as the radical acceptance of the understanding of man as a person who "finds himself" by making a sincere gift of self. A gift is, obviously, "for others": this is the most important dimension of the civilization of love.

We thus come to the very heart of the Gospel truth about freedom. The person realizes himself by the exercise of freedom in truth. Freedom cannot be understood as a license to do absolutely anything: it means a gift of self. Even more: it means an interior discipline of the gift. The idea of gift contains not only the free initiative of the subject, but also the aspect of duty. All this is made real in the "communion of persons." We find ourselves again at the very heart of each family. . . .

As we know, at the foundation of ethical utilitarianism there is the continual quest for "maximum" happiness. But this is a "utilitarian happiness," seen only as pleasure, as immediate gratification for the exclusive benefit of the individual, apart from or opposed to the objective demands of the true good.

The program of utilitarianism, based on an individualistic understanding of freedom — a freedom without responsibilities — is the opposite of love, even as an expression of human civilization considered as a whole. When this concept of freedom is embraced by society, and quickly allies itself with varied forms of human weakness, it soon proves a systematic and permanent threat to the family. In this regard, one could mention many dire consequences, which can be statistically verified, even though a great number of them are hidden in the hearts of men and women like painful, fresh wounds.

The Journey of Love with Pope John Paul the First

Address of His Holiness Pope John Paul I
General Audience
Wednesday, 27 September 1978
"My God, with all my heart above all things I love You, infinite good and our eternal happiness, and for your sake I love my neighbour as myself and forgive offenses received. Oh Lord, may I love you more and more." This is a very well-known prayer, embellished with biblical phrases. My mother taught it to me. I recite it several times a day even now, and I will try to explain it to you, word by word, as a parish catechist would do.

We are at Pope John's "third lamp of sanctification": charity. I love. In philosophy class the teacher would say to me: You know St Mark's bell tower? You do? That means that it has somehow, entered your mind: physically it has remained where it was, but within you it has imprinted almost an intellectual portrait of itself. Do you, on the other hand, love St Mark's bell tower? That means that portrait, from within, pushes you and bends you, almost carries you, makes you go in your mind towards the bell tower which is outside. In a word: to love means travelling, rushing with one's heart towards the object loved. The Imitation of Christ says: he who loves "currit, volat, laetatur", runs, flies and rejoices (The Imitation of Christ ,1.III, c. V, n. 4).

To love God is therefore a journeying with one's heart to God. A wonderful journey! When I was a boy, I was thrilled by the journeys described by Jules Verne ("Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea", "From The Earth To The Moon", "Round The World In Eighty Days", etc). But the journeys of love for God are far more interesting. You read them in the lives of the Saints. St Vincent de Paul, whose feast we celebrate today, for example, is a giant of charity: he loved God more than a father and a mother, and he himself was a father for prisoners, sick people, orphans and the poor. St Peter Claver, dedicating himself entirely to God, used to sign: Peter, the slave of the negroes for ever.

The Journey also brings sacrifices, but these must not stop us. Jesus is on the cross: you want to kiss him? You cannot help bending over the cross and letting yourself be pricked by some thorns of the crown which is on the Lord's head (cf. St Francis de Sales Oeuvres, Annecy, t. XXI, p. 153). You cannot cut the figure of good St Peter, who had no difficulty in shouting "Long live Jesus" on Mount Tabor, where there was joy, but did not even let himself be seen beside Jesus at Mount Calvary, where there was risk and suffering (cf. Ibid.,140).

Love for God is also a mysterious journey: that is, I cannot start unless God takes the initiative first. "No one", Jesus said, "can come to me, unless the Father who sent me draws him" (Jn 6:44). St Augustine asked himself: but what about human freedom? God, however, who willed and constructed this freedom, knows how to respect it, though bringing hearts to the point he intended: "parum est voluntate, etiam voluptate traheris"; God draws you not only in a way that you yourself want, but even in such a way that you enjoy being drawn (St Augustine, Tractates on the Gospel of John, 26.4).

With all my heart. I stress, here, the adjective "all." Totalitarianism, in politics, is an ugly thing. In religion, on the contrary, a totalitarianism on our side towards God is a very good thing. It is written: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates" (Dt 6:5-9).

That "all" repeated and applied insistently is really the banner of Christian maximalism. And it is right: God is too great, he deserves too much from us for us to be able to throw to him, as to a poor Lazarus, a few crumbs of our time and our heart. He is infinite good and will be our eternal happiness: money, pleasure, the fortunes of this world, compared with him, are just fragments of good and fleeting moments of happiness. It would not be wise to give so much of ourselves to these things and little of ourselves to Jesus.

Above everything else. Now we come to a direct comparison between God and man, between God and the world. It would not be right to say: "Either God or man." We must love "both God and man"; the latter, however, never more than God or against God or as much as God. In other words: love of God, though prevalent, is not exclusive. The Bible declares Jacob holy (Dn 3:35) and loved by God (Mal 1:2; Rom 9:13), it shows him working for seven years to win Rachel as his wife; "and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her" (Gen 29:20). Francis de Sales makes a little comment on these words: "Jacob", he writes, "loves Rachel with all his might, and he loves God with all his might; but he does not therefore love Rachel as God nor God as Rachel. He loves God as his God above all things and more than himself; he loves Rachel as his wife above all other women and as himself. He loves God with absolutely and superbly supreme love, and Rachel with supreme husbandly love; one love is not contrary to the other because love of Rachel does not violate the supreme advantages of love of God " (St. Francis de Sales, Oeuvres, t. V, p. 175).

And for your sake I love my neighbour. Here we are in the presence of two loves which are "twin brothers" and inseparable. It is easy to love some persons; difficult to love others; we do not find them likeable, they have offended us and hurt us; only if I love God in earnest can I love them as sons of God and because he asks me to. Jesus also established how to love one's neighbour: that is, not only with feeling, but with facts. This is the way, he said. I will ask you: I was hungry in the person of my humbler brothers, did you give me food? Did you visit me, when I was sick (cf. Mt 25:34 ff).

The catechism puts these and other words of the Bible in the double list of the seven corporal works of mercy and the seven spiritual ones. The list is not complete and it would be necessary to update it. Among the starving, for example, today, it is no longer a question just of this or that individual; there are whole peoples.

We all remember the great words of Pope Paul VI: "Today the peoples in hunger are making a dramatic appeal to the peoples blessed with abundance. The Church shudders at this cry of anguish and calls each one to give a loving response of charity to this brother's cry for help" (Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, 3). At this point justice is added to charity, because, Paul VI says also, "Private property does not constitute for anyone an absolute and unconditioned right. No one is justified in keeping for his exclusive use what he does not need, when others lack necessities" (Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, 23). Consequently "every exhausting armaments race becomes an intolerable scandal" (Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, 53).

In the light of these strong expressions it can be seen how far we—individuals and peoples—still are from loving others "as ourselves", as Jesus commanded.

Another commandment: I forgive offenses received. It almost seems that the Lord gives precedence to this forgiveness over worship: "So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift" (Mt 5:23-24).

The last words of the prayer are: Lord, may I love you more and more. Here, too, there is obedience to a commandment of God, who put thirst for progress in our hearts. From pile-dwellings, caves and the first huts we have passed to houses, apartment buildings and skyscrapers; from journeys on foot, on the back of a mule or of a camel, to coaches, trains and aeroplanes. And people desire to progress further with more and more rapid means of transport, reaching more and more distant goals. But to love God, we have seen, is also a journey: God wants it to be more and more intense and perfect. He said to all his followers: "You are the light of the world, the salt of the earth" (Mt 5:13-14); "You must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt 5:48). That means: to love God not a little, but so much; not to stop at the point at which we have arrived, but with his help, to progress in love.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"The Bridegroom is coming. This is his precise hour."

In Act Two of his play, The Jeweler's Shop, Blessed Karol Wojtyla tells the story of Anna, whose marriage to Stefan began with promise, but has turned to the bitterness of disappointment and disillusionment. They have become like strangers in the same house, and she believes that their love is dead. But the mysterious jeweler will not take her wedding ring when she tries to sell it -- her husband still being alive, her ring alone does not weigh anything when he places it on his scales, which "weigh not the metal, but man’s entire being and fate." Ashamed, but still desperate for love, she leaves the jeweler's shop and meets a "chance interlocutor" who speaks to her of the Bridegroom who is coming.

In the parable of the Bridegroom and the Ten Virgins, which is the Gospel reading at Mass for this Sunday (Mt 25:1-13), we usually think of its lesson of constant readiness, but Pope John Paul uses it to add a couple of insights to our understanding of love.

Adam – I told Anna, “The Bridegroom will come shortly.” I said this thinking of the love which had so died in her soul. The Bridegroom passes through so many streets, meeting so many different people. Passing, he touches the love that is in them. It if is bad, he suffers for it. Love is bad when there is a lack of it. . . .

Anna – Isn’t what one feels most strongly the truth? . . . Is not love a matter of the senses and of a climate which unites and makes two people walk in the sphere of their feeling?
Adam, however, did not fully agree with this. Love is, according to him, a synthesis of two people’s existence which converges, as it were, at a certain point, and makes them into one. And then again he repeated that the Bridegroom would walk down this street shortly. This news, heard for the second time, not only fascinated me, but suddenly awoke a longing in me. A longing for someone perfect, for a man firm and good, who would be different from Stefan -- different, different . . . And with the feeling of this sudden longing, I must have started running, looking closely at the men I passed.

[Anna begins to encounter various men passing by.]

Adam – This is just what compels me to think about human love. There is no other matter embedded more strongly in the surface of human life, and there is no matter more unknown and more mysterious. The divergence between what lies on the surface and the mystery of love constitutes precisely the source of the drama. It is one of the greatest dramas of human existence. The surface of love has its current – swift, flickering, changeable. A kaleidoscope of waves and situations full of attraction. This current is sometimes so stunning that it carries people away – women and men. They get carried away by the thought that they have absorbed the whole secret of love, but in fact, they have not yet even touched it. They are happy for a while, thinking that they have reached the limits of existence and wrested all its secrets from it, so that nothing remains. That’s how it is: on the other side of that rapture, nothing remains, there is nothing left behind it. But there can’t be nothing, there can’t! Listen to me, there can’t. Man is a continuum, a totality and a continuity – so it cannot be that nothing remains! . . .

Anna – [meets a second passerby] I was almost ready to cling to his arm . . . I longed so much for a man’s arm and a walk along the avenue of wilting chestnut trees. He went on to say, “How about stepping into that club?” . . . “And then?” I asked. He did not reply, and I seemed to take fright at that “then.” He must have had a wife . . . Suddenly, I realized what the expression “a casual woman” could mean. . . . I kept walking, however, still thinking about the same thing, coming forward, as it were, toward every passing man. . . .
Now I’m on the edge of the pavement. On the curb.... There’s a car; an expensive one. The window is partly lowered, a man at the wheel. I stopped.

Adam – Love is not an adventure. It has the taste of the whole man. It has his weight. And the weight of his whole fate. It cannot be a single moment. Man’s eternity passes through it. That is why it is to be found in the dimensions of God, because only He is eternity. . . .

Anna – I stopped and fixed my eyes on the car, the windows, the man. . . . The man looked. I approached. He had a low, warm voice when he said, “Won’t you join me?” He indicated the seat next to him. In a while, he will start the engine. We shall move off. We’ll drive into the unknown. . . . I shall be somebody again. . .
I want to, I think I want to very much. I think I had already put my hand on the door handle. I only had to press it. Suddenly I felt a man’s hand on mine. I looked up. Adam was standing above me. I saw his face, which was tired; it betrayed emotion. Adam looked me straight in the eyes. His hand was just lying on mine. Then he said, “No.” I felt the car moving past us. In a moment, it was gone. “It’s strange that you should come back; I thought you’d disappeared for good.”

Adam – I came back to show you the street. It is strange. Not because it is full of shops, neon lights and buildings, but because of the people. Look, on the other side of the street there are some girls passing by; they are walking, laughing and talking loudly among themselves. . . . Their lamps are out, so they are on their way to buy some oil. They will fill the lamps, and the lamps will burn again. . . .
They are the wise virgins.... And now look over there. Those are the foolish virgins. They are asleep and their lamps are lying by the wall. One has even rolled across the pavement and fallen into the gutter. To you it seems they are asleep in those recesses, but in reality, they too are walking down the street. They are walking in their sleep. They are walking in a lethargy – they have a dormant space in them.
You now feel that space in you, because you too were falling asleep. I have come to wake you. I think I am in time.

Anna – Why did you wake me? Why?

Adam – I’ve wakened you because the Bridegroom is to walk down this street. The wise virgins want to come forward and meet him with their lights; the foolish virgins have fallen asleep and lost their lamps. I promise you they will not wake in time, and even if they do, they will not be able to find and light their lamps. . . .
The Bridegroom is constantly waiting. He constantly lives in expectation. Only this is, as it were, on the far side of all those different loves without which man cannot live. Take you, for instance. You cannot live without love. I saw from a distance how you walked down this street and tried to rouse interest. I could almost hear your soul. You were calling with despair for a love you do not have. You were looking for someone who would take you by the hand and hug you.
Oh, Anna, how am I to prove to you that on the other side of all those loves which fill our lives, there is Love! The Bridegroom is coming down this street and walks every street! How am I to prove to you that you are the bride? One would now have to pierce a layer of your soul, as one pierces the layer of brushwood and soil when looking for a source of water in the green of a wood. You would then hear him speak: “Beloved, you do not know how deeply you are mine, how much you belong to my love and my suffering” – because to love means to give life through death; to love means to let gush a spring of water of life into the depths of the soul, which burns or smolders, and cannot burn out. Ah, the flame and the spring. You don’t feel the spring, but are consumed by the flame. Is that not so?

Anna – I don’t know. I only know that you have been talking to my soul. Don’t be afraid! It goes with my body. How can it be embraced or possessed without my body? I am a foolish virgin. I am one of the foolish virgins. Why did you wake me? …
There they are again, those girls. Their faces are not even attentive. Are they really pure and noble, or is it just that they have fared better in life than I? …

Adam – The Bridegroom is coming. This is his precise hour. Oh, look – the wise virgins have just gone by, holding their freshly lighted lamps. Their light is bright, because they have cleaned the glass in the lanterns. They walk gaily, almost dancing as they walk. . . .

Anna – I went on looking. A man was walking, dressed in a light coat, he was not wearing a hat. I did not notice his face at first, because he walked lost in thought, his head lowered. On impulse I began to walk in his direction. But when he lifted his face, I nearly gave a shout! It seemed to me I clearly saw Stefan’s face. And I immediately withdrew ... I have seen the face I hate, and the face I ought to love. Why do you expose me to such a test?

Adam – In the Bridegroom’s face, each of us finds a similarity to the faces of those with whom love has entangled us on this side of life, of existence. They are all in him.

[Act Three - several years later, during which Anna had begun the process of healing her marriage]

Adam – That evening I saw Anna again. The memory of her encounter with the Bridegroom was still vivid to her. Anna had entered the road of complementary love. She had to complement, giving and taking in different proportions than before. The turning point occurred that night many years ago. At that time everything threatened destruction. A new love could begin only through a meeting with the Bridegroom. What Anna felt of it at first was only the suffering. In the course of time a gradual calm came. And something new that was growing, was still intangible, and, above all, did not “taste” of love. One day they may learn to relish the taste of that something new . . .

Excerpts from The Jeweler's Shop (1960), translated by Boleslaw Taborksi (1980)
In our exegesis of scripture, we know the Bridegroom to be Christ, and His Bride is the Church. In many parables, we are the guests at the wedding banquet or the virgins awaiting the Bridegroom's arrival. But although the Bride is the Church and we appear to be bystanders, who is the Church?

We the faithful make up the Church. We are the Bride. You are the Bride. "Oh, Anna, how am I to prove to you that on the other side of all those loves which fill our lives, there is Love! The Bridegroom is coming down this street and walks every street! How am I to prove to you that you are the bride?" Each of us is the Bride that Jesus loves with such a fierce deep passion, if only we would realize it and accept it. “Beloved, you do not know how deeply you are mine, how much you belong to my love."

However, to be the Bride, one with Christ, means also to be one with His Passion. “Beloved, you do not know how deeply you are mine, how much you belong to . . . my suffering.” The spousal love of Jesus for us, and that we ought have for Him, passes through the Cross. But in that encounter of love comes not the death of love, but new life for our relationships of love with others. "A new love could begin only through a meeting with the Bridegroom."

At first, it may appear that there is only the suffering. But in the course of time, a transformation occurs, something new grows. At first, it may seem intangible and not have the “taste” of love that we are accustomed to. But in Him, in the Bridegroom, we can learn to relish the taste of that something new, the eternity and absolute of love.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

"I Have a Love"

Maria loves, even after learning that her beloved has killed her brother.

The Nature, Origin, and Cause of Love

What is "love" and where does it come from?

Ultimately, love comes from God, who is Love, as do all things come from Him. But more immediately for the individual person, the question of "where" is illuminated by the question of "what."

What is love? In its purest and truest and fullest, love is a gift, a gift of self, and it is something which is given unconditionally, without concern for whether the other "deserves" it, or what we may or may not receive in return, although it is a joy when it is reciprocated.

In recognizing that it is something selflessly given, not merely something experienced, we can also see that the immediate cause of love in us is our decision to give it. It is not something that overcomes us or is imposed upon us, or something that "just happens." That is, in the individual sense, love comes from our free choice of the will. And in choosing to love, in choosing to give of oneself, we ultimately are choosing to accept God, who is, after all, Love itself. Conversely, not loving is not something that "just happens," not loving is also a choice.

However, love in its fullest sense is not all about such agape love of noble self-sacrifice, which many might see as joyless duty, it is also about the brotherly, fraternal, friendship kind of love that is philia, as well as being about the love of purified eros, the thirsting kind of love that naturally seeks an “other,” a joyous, passionate, ascending, intimate kind of love, longing to be with the other.

And, as we have discussed in previous weeks and months, marriage is the "primordial sacrament," there is a spousal meaning in the human body, so we are all called to a spousal-type of love that is both unitive and creative, as exemplified by husband and wife, God and Israel, Jesus the Bridegroom and His Virgin Bride, the Church, a loving communion of persons in one fruitful being, as in the image of the Trinity. The fullness of love is, by its nature, dynamic and fertile, it bears fruit, and it is this is fullness of love, in a complete gift of self, that we are all called to give. This is why, among other reasons, the use of contraception is wrong; by its very nature, contraception involves a partial withholding of self, by the barrier it imposes between man and woman, contraception is inherently inconsistent with the truth that we are made for the fullness of love in a complete gift of self that is unitive and fruitful.

Still, in all of these aspects of love, even in the attractive love of eros, there is an element of free choice. There is only one “love,” notwithstanding its multiple aspects and dimensions. And this is true whether it is love of a sweetheart or love of an enemy.
“Fundamentally, ‘love’ is a single reality, but with different dimensions; at different times, one or other dimension may emerge more clearly.” – Deus Caritas Est
If love were merely a positive feeling, then how could we love our enemy, whom we do not even like?
“Love is not merely a sentiment. Sentiments come and go. A sentiment can be a marvelous first spark, but it is not the fullness of love.” – Deus Caritas Est
The greatest gifts that God gave us in addition to our existence are reason, free will, and the capacity to love. We were created by God out of love, we were made through the Logos by an act of creative reason, and for love. Our purpose, the reason that we are here, is to love and be loved. Does it make sense that, in that area for which we are created, love, God would deprive us of those other gifts of reason and free choice of the will?

Love is not love if it is not freely given. Love is not love if it is not the fruit of a conscious decision. It may be suggested that love is a feeling, an emotion, an attraction, a desire for the other, a sense of fulfillment. And certainly these things often do accompany love, but they are not love in and of itself. Feelings come and go. Sentiments come and go. Attraction comes and goes. And yet love -- if it truly is love -- remains. Indeed, this is seen when Jesus tells us that we must love not only those close to us, but our neighbors, that is, total strangers we don’t even know, and even our enemies, people we don’t even like.

True love is not merely pleasure or sentiment. Love is more than just an emotional feeling, more than attraction and affection, and more than a desire for personal happiness or fulfillment. Love is a conscious, decisive choice of the other as the focus of affection, a commitment of the will to subordinate yourself, and to seek the good and welfare of the other, including the gift of yourself for the other’s benefit. In short, in all its aspects, love is a free choice.

And such a love is secure because it does not depend upon and is not contingent upon the other person -- it only depends on you.
“The ‘commandment’ of love is only possible because it is more than a requirement. Love can be ‘commanded’ because it has first been given [by God]. Some people object and say that love cannot be commanded, that it is ultimately a feeling which is either there or not, nor can it be produced by the will. However, God has loved us first and he continues to do so; we too, then, can respond with love. God does not demand of us a feeling which we ourselves are incapable of producing. In God and with God, I love even the person whom I do not like or even know. This can only take place on the basis of an intimate encounter with God, an encounter which has become a communion of will, even affecting my feelings.” – Deus Caritas Est
So, how do you love – truly love? You make a conscious decision, an act of the will, that you will love no matter what, freely and unconditionally. If the other has hurt you or disappointed you or even rejected and abandoned you, the end of love is not an automatic thing -- you have a decision to make, a choice: Do I stop loving them? "No, I don't want to stop loving, I will not stop loving." No one can make you stop loving except you. Love is a gift of self, accepting the person who is loved as they really are, without the merits of whether or not they “deserve” to be loved. And if you feel that you do not have that power within you, ask for a little help, which we call grace, from God.

The paradox of love. It is by having such a complete loving disposition toward gift of self that we are able to obtain a level of contentment and happiness that is permanent. It is another one of those curious paradoxes -- by sacrificing yourself, even your personal happiness and security, you gain an even greater happiness and security; by letting go of your self-centered ego, you find yourself; by emptying yourself, you become fulfilled. Agape and eros in one.

Such love is not all drudgery and duty, but leads to joy, real heart-soaring joy and contentment and fulfillment. The more that you are disposed to love, the better you are able to love and find love in male-female and other interpersonal relationships. The more you are disposed to love, the more you will be able to see the good qualities in others. These others become more physically attractive, more intelligent, more humorous, more enjoyable. However, the more you are turned inward, seeking to satisfy yourself, complaining that there are no good men or women out there, the more trouble you will have finding them. A perfect Christian, embracing love perfectly, should be able to be united to anyone and be attracted to them, and desire them, and want to be with them, because they have love, and they see in the other the image of Christ.

Such a loving disposition is also something which approaches the divine. Let us consider the love of God -- God is perfect; He is Truth itself. Therefore, the highest and most perfect and truest love is God’s love. And what kind of “love” is that? Deus caritas est. God is caritas; God’s love is love as caritas, charitable gift.

We must love as God loves. God does not love us because we are so incredibly attractive and pretty or because we are sexy or funny or smart or because we have money and power and fame or because we are so likeable - most of us are none of these things. And yet, He loves us even in the absence of these things; He loves us unconditionally for ourselves, as we are. He loves, He gives - fully and completely, to the extent of giving His life, even though we do not deserve it. He gives us His love because He seeks the good for us, because we need love. Love is life.

Indeed, if we were to honestly and justly consider the matter, we must concede that none of us "deserve" such love. After all, mankind has given God little more than rejection and infidelity throughout history. And yet, He continues to love us, fully, completely, and unconditionally. He refuses to stop loving us, even when we torture Him and murder Him. He continues to give.

But it is through the Cross that one attains the Resurrection. It is by and through the Lord's gift of self, first by becoming man, and then on the Cross, that "all things are made new." Love is by its very nature dynamic and fertile, it is life itself, and it is this fullness of love that has the power to transform dull and social lifelessness to a new life of authentic happiness, true ecstasy, and even bring new life into a love that which was once dead. But we, like He, must first choose to make that gift of self.

We must love as God loves. If we would have others love us, if we would seek to enjoy the joyous fruits of love for ourselves, we must love perfectly and truly as He loves. We must choose not to be selfishly focused on our own wants and desires by eating from the Tree of Knowledge, but must instead freely choose to eat from the Tree of Love.

See also the comment section below in What is this thing called “love”?

Friday, November 4, 2011

What is this thing called “love”?

We say it all the time. We think it all the time. And yet, we spend our entire lifetimes trying to figure out what it is. And some of us never figure out what love is. Some of us are clueless as to what love really is, and we spend our lifetimes looking and looking for it, in constant misery and unhappiness. And so, some questions --

What is Love?
1. What is this thing called “love”?
2. What do we mean when we say “I love you,” or when we ask “Do you love me?”
3. Are there different kinds of love, or is there only one love which is exhibited/experienced in different ways or varying degrees?
4. Is the concept of love objective, or is it different for each person? Does the definition of love change depending upon the situation?
5. Is the religious and Biblical concept of love different, separate, and/or distinct from the “romantic” concept of love?
6. Is being “in love” different from love generally? Is there a difference between being “in love” and being “in” love?
7. Is being “in love” different from being “in like” with someone?
8. What is love? Oh, let us count the possibilities. Is love --

-- a thought? an emotion or feeling? an attitude?
-- a psychological condition? a left-over remnant from infancy, when mommy and daddy protected you and provided for you?
-- an obsession? a form of insanity?
-- an electro-chemical reaction in the brain? raging hormones? some other purely physical or biological condition?
-- instinct or a genetic condition? or a result of socialization?
-- fate or destiny?
-- a myth, a construct or abstraction that was invented to facilitate sex and the formation of associations to provide security for one another?
-- a myth, a lie that we can use to get what we want from the other?
-- a liking of the other? an affection or sentiment for the other person?
-- an attraction to the other? physical attraction? intellectual attraction?
-- a want or desire to possess or consume the other?
-- a want or desire for companionship, to be with or in the presence of the other?
-- a want or desire for physical, spiritual, and/or sexual closeness and intimacy with the other? a passion or craving or hunger or longing for the other?
-- a bond between persons? a unification of persons? a want or desire to integrate, interpenetrate, and become one with the other?
-- an enjoyment of the other? a want or desire to utilize the other to make us happy?
-- romance and dreaminess? a feeling of pleasure or ecstasy or thrill?
-- something that is profound and intense? something that leaves you breathless and weak in the knees
-- a feeling of security or contentment? something that makes you happy or satisfied?
-- something that leaves you warm and fuzzy? something that leaves you miserable and depressed?
-- an act of reason? a rational decision? a conscious choice or act of the will?
-- a concern or care for the other, without regard to what they can or cannot provide us?
-- a desire or will for the good of the other? for the happiness of the other?
-- something that we take from the other?
-- a right that we may properly demand from the other?
-- an inter-personal, two-way, reciprocal relationship? or something that may be given or experienced whether or not it is given to us in return?
-- a gift of self? a commitment to the other? a sacrifice for the other? a subordination of self for the good and sake of the other?
-- a gift to the other without regard to whether the other deserves it or not?
-- a compassion and respect for the other as he or she really is, flaws and all?
-- an affirmation of the value of the other as a person, rather than a thing or means to our own satisfaction?
-- a duty or obligation?
-- eros, philia, agape, and/or amore?
9. Is love something that is primarily centered on or concerned with the self, or with the other person?
10. Does love involve our bodies only, or our souls as well? Does love involve only a portion of our bodies or the totality?
11. Is love something that we experience physically, spiritually, or both?
12. Is love purely corporeal, temporal, and worldly, or is it transcendent as well?
13. Is there any relationship between love and friendship? Is the love of another greater than being their friend? Is love deeper than friendship?
14. Are there things that we would accept in a loved one that we would not accept in a friend? Are there things that we would accept in friend that we would not accept in a loved one?
15. Is love a moral good? If it is a good, should a love relationship with another always be pursued?
16. Can you love someone even though you do not like them? Can love co-exist with hate? with anger?
17. Does love mean “never having to say that you are sorry”?
What is the source or cause of love?
18. Why do we love? How does love (or being “in love”) happen? What causes love? What is the source of love? Where does it come from?
19. Is the cause or source of love something that is external to us, or is it internal?
20. Is love something that is necessarily temporary, or is permanent love possible?
21. What does it mean to “fall in love”? Is love really something that we “fall” into? And is it something that we fall out of?
22. Is love ready-made? Is it something that just happens or just doesn’t happen?
23. Is love something beyond our control? Is love the result of an uncontrollable force of attraction or affinity?
24. Is love thrust upon us, like Cupid’s arrow? Are we compelled to love without regard for our reason or free will, or even against our will?
25. Does loving someone depend entirely upon the other person? Do we love them because they “make us happy”?
26. Which comes first – attraction and happiness, or love? Does happiness and/or attraction cause or otherwise lead to love, or does love lead to happiness and attraction?
27. What is the source of happiness? of attraction? of desire?
28. Is it still love if it is painful or annoying? if we are disappointed or unhappy?
29. Do we love because the other person fulfills us and completes us?
30. Do we love the other person because of some attribute of that person – because they are physically attractive or smart or funny or honest or a good provider or someone that shares our values?
31. How well do you have to know someone before you can sincerely say “I love you”? Is “love at first sight” possible?
32. Is there only “one, true love” for us, a soul mate, a Mr. or Miss Right? Should we have to “settle” for anything less than the best?
33. Is it possible to love an unsavory person? an ugly person? a boring person?
34. Is perfect love between two persons possible? Do two persons have the power and ability in themselves to create this perfect love, or is some outside assistance needed?
35. What is the cause of the loss of love? Is the cause of the loss of love something external to us; is it something beyond our control?
36. Do we stop loving the other person because of some attribute of that person? Do we stop loving them because they no longer “make us happy”?
37. Can we “make” the other person love us? If the other person does not love us or stops loving us, is that because there is something wrong with us? Will they love us again if only we change?
38. Is love possible in an arranged marriage? If so, how?
39. Is love possible in other involuntary relationships, such as parent-child and brother-sister? If so, how?
The Ultimate Question About Love
40. What is the most perfect and truest love? the Love that will provide the answers to all of the previous questions?

See also above, 70 possible answers to the question of love.