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Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Sunflower Seeds

Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Five Thoughts about Love

(Photo by Magda Ehlers – Pexels)

Recently Eric (my grandnephew) and Mary Ann were married. Mary Ann’s father Ron is a deacon at the nearby church and he presided at the service. Deacon Ron wanted to walk his daughter down the aisle in a suit—not his clerical clothes. This meant he had to change after doing that privileged task, so he asked me if I would like to say a few words to fill in the time. I had four minutes. Here’s the short talk I gave.

(Photo by Pixabay)

In honor of Eric and Mary Ann, I have decided to share five thoughts about love. Warning: there’s going to be a quiz at the end—but you, Eric and Mary Ann, do not have to take the quiz. You get an automatic A on your wedding day.

(1) God is Love. Everything we see—all of creation—is an expression of God’s love: Monarch butterflies heading to Mexico, green leaves changing to red, orange, and yellow, and juicy grapes being ripened by our magnificent sun. As children we might have asked, “What does God do all day?” The answer is: God loves. And we Christians believe the essence of Jesus’ message can be summed up in one word. Love.

(2) Everybody needs love. No matter our age (babies, teenagers, adults, and even the elderly like me)… no matter how much money we have… the state of our health… our religion… our ethnic background, we all need love. We need to receive love and to give love.

(3) There are many different kinds of love. Today we’re celebrating the love of Mary Ann and Eric—marital love. Other kinds of love include the love between parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, friends, neighbors, co-workers, even the love we have for our pets. Love has many different forms.

(Photo by Natanael Alves Bezerra – Pexels)

(4) Loving is the hardest thing we do in life. It’s harder than running a marathon, being cooped up in a classroom with 25 first graders on a rainy day, or cooking a Thanksgiving dinner for twenty. In fact, loving is so hard, we don’t get it right every time. So we need patience with ourselves when we fail at love, and patience with others when they mess up too. That’s why we have those two little phrases: “I’m sorry” and “I forgive.”

(5) The purpose of life is to learn how to love. We’re all students in the school of love. And guess what! None of us ever graduates. We can never say, “I finally know all there is to know about love. I can move on to other things.” No, we’re always learning new things about love as life places new joys and new challenges before us.

Now here’s the quiz. Finish these sentences with one word:

  1. Everyone needs ___.
  2. There are many different kinds of ___.
  3. The hardest thing we do in life is to ___.
  4. The purpose of life is to learn how to ___.
  5. God is ___.

    Mary Ann and Eric, we all wish you many years of happiness and love! Amen!
Eric and Mary Ann (engagement photo)

For reflection:

Did any of the five thoughts stand out for you today? If so, which one(s)?

Would you like to add a sixth thought about love to the list?


PS: Thank you for your prayers for last weekend’s zoom retreat sponsored by the Sophia Retreat Center in Atchison, KS. And special thanks to Donna for inviting me and to Mary Kay who handled the technology in such a professional way. And finally, special thanks to the wonderful women who shared this Autumn retreat with me!

A very important meeting is taking place in Rome from Oct. 4-29: “The Synod on Synodality.” It is a gathering of 464 clergy and laymen and laywomen to study and discuss the feedback from the parish group discussions held all over the world from 2021 to 2023. (Did your parish participate?) For the first time women have been included, and both laymen and laywomen will have the right to vote. The purpose of the synod is to learn how the church can better fulfill its mission to share the good news of the gospel in every place and culture. In other words, how might we, the church, better serve God’s people all over the world. The opening session will be live-streamed. There is much online about this important gathering. You might want to check it out. Meanwhile, Pope Francis has urged all of us to pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance on this important meeting.

It seemed fitting to have a video of a hymn to the Holy Spirit. I chose the traditional hymn, “Come Holy Ghost.” Let us pray this hymn for the gift of love for all people and for God’s special blessings on the “Synod on Synodality.”

I welcome your comments below!

10 Responses

  1. Good morning, Sr. Melannie…

    So many wonderful things in this piece: Ron the deacon walking his daughter down the aisle; you giving “lovely” prefatory remarks about…LOVE; and finally your reminder within those remarks that we are all students in the school of love (A very Benedictine insight, I might add!), a school from which we never graduate. So, so true! But perhaps Heaven will be our graduation day, when we become one in the currents of God’s universal love! Have a love-filled day!

    PS: God bless Terry Francona!

    1. John, I especially liked your words: “perhaps Heaven will be our graduation day, when we become one in the currents of God’s universal love.” Well said, well said. And yes, God bless Terry Francona! (Readers: Francona just retired as manager of the Cleveland Guardians—“my” team. He was once the manager of the Boston Red Sox—“John’s” team.)

  2. Mellanie. Thanks for your reflection. You must have been at Sophia center the same time I was in the JustBee hermitage. I came to “just be” as I move into my next decade of life. I came home and then celebrated my 80th and threw a party. Gees I felt so much love and was so grateful that these friends had been part of my life. So your reflection was so aprapo Peace my friend. Joni

    1. Joni, Congratulations on reaching the big 8-0! I’m glad you celebrated your precious gift of life with friends… My retreat for the Sophia center in Atchison, KS was via zoom. But I know how nice the JustBee hermitage is! Thanks for writing!

  3. Hi Sr. Melannie,
    I always enjoy your reflections in “Give Us This Day” and I have taken up the habit of reading your weekly article in “Sunflower Seeds”. I just wanted to thank-you for always brightening my Monday’s and helping me focus on what is truly important. God bless you!
    Your friend, Greg

  4. Sister, these five thoughts on love are so simple and profound. You always open my mind and my view of life is changed. I look at life in a new way. I am so happy I was blessed to find you/your blog. Some of these thoughts got me a bit choked up when my mind flashed to some recent unloving actions and thoughts of mine. I am so blessed to have your message to gently re-direct my thoughts, actions, and words. Thank you.

    1. Celeste, Thank you for your encouraging words. Yes, none of us gets love right every time… That fact keeps us humble and underscores our need for God’s grace… I appreciate your words!! Melannie

      1. Hi Sister Melannie! I’ve been honored to attend one of your retreats held at Villa Maria, but have not been receiving Sunflower Seeds on Mondays since I got a different phone. I signed up again but received a message that I’m already signed up. Please advise…I miss you! God bless you, as you have blessed us!

        1. Mary, I love Villa Maria! I’ll be returning there Oct. 11-13, 2024 to give a another weekend retreat. Maybe I’ll see you again!… The subscription part of my blog is “broken.” So, until it is fixed, you have to search for my blog online. Then you can mark it as one of your favorites and then have easier access to it. I’m sorry for the inconvenience… Thanks for writing! Melannie

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Hi and welcome to my blog! I’m Sister Melannie, a Sister of Notre Dame residing in Chardon, Ohio, USA. I’ve been very lucky! I was raised in a loving family on a small farm in northeast Ohio. I also entered the SNDs right after high school. Over the years, my ministries have included high school and college teaching, novice director, congregational leadership, spiritual direction, retreat facilitating, and writing. I hope you enjoy “Sunflower Seeds” and will consider subscribing below. I’d love to have you in our “sunflower community.” Thank you!

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