Five Truths about Love
Valentine’s Day is coming soon. It’s one of my favorite days of the year. I love it, first of all, because it comes in the middle of February, often a time of darkness and cold—at least where I live. It comes smack in the middle of the celebrations of Christmas (now a distant memory) and Easter (still weeks away). I also love Valentine’s Day, a Christian/pagan feast, because it celebrates love—all kinds of love—eros (sexual love), philia (brotherly/sisterly love), and agape (love of the soul). On Valentine’s Day we take time to show our appreciation for those we love.
And I appreciate all of you, my dear readers of this blog! I launched this blog on February 13, 2012! (Happy anniversary to us!) I can’t believe I’ve been writing these weekly reflections for five years now. And some of you have been with me since the beginning (thank you for your patience and stamina!), and many of you have joined us somewhere along the way. I always appreciate new comers too. Today I would like to celebrate this feast of St. Valentine by offering you five truths about love that I have gleaned through my lived experienced, my long lived experience. I wonder: do any of these truths resonate with your lived experience?
- Love begins and ends with God. St. John said it best: “We love because God loved us first.” All love flows from God. But love isn’t so much something I do; it is something I participate in. More accurately, love is not a thing at all. Love is a person. Again I quote from the letter of St. John: “God is love.” If we’re having difficulty loving then maybe we have lost sight of God’s great love for each one of us. Or maybe we have turned love into a project.
- Loving is the hardest thing we do. Why did Jesus have to say over and over again, “Love one another… Love one another… Love one another”? Because he knew how hard it was! Loving is so difficult and so challenging, no one gets it right every time. This realization should make us more patient with all the clumsy or faltering attempts at loving we see—both our own and those of others.
- Love hurts. If we love, we will hurt. It’s as simple (and sobering) as that. This means we will get hurt; but it also means we will probably hurt others—especially the very ones we love. If we are involved in a loving relationship, then, sooner or later we have to learn to say “I’m sorry” and “I forgive.” And we will also be hurt when the people we love are taken away from us—especially through death, the “ultimate taking away.” The point is, if you want a life without hurt, don’t love. But guess what? Choosing not to love will hurt too. I guess it’s a matter of picking your hurt!
- Loving is the most important thing we do. We do many important things in a lifetime. We get an education, we secure a job, we get married, we have kids, we go to church, we win awards, we take care of our health, we manage our finances, we plan for retirement. But by far, the most important thing we do is love. In fact, if love is not a part of all the important things we do in life, then those things have little value. (See the next truth below).
- Love must permeate everything we do. The theologian Richard McBrien said that love is at the heart of every Christian virtue. Justice without love is legalism. Hope without love is self-abasement. Care without love is mere duty. Fidelity without love is servitude. Love must permeate everything we do, whether we’re changing a diaper, cooking supper, teaching a class, feeding the dog, helping a kid with his homework, shoveling snow, driving our granddaughter to her dance lesson, sitting at a meeting, attending Mass, or even writing a blog.
So there you have it: five truths about love. What truths would you add?
Happy Valentine’s Day!
I chose an old love song to God for today: “Be Thou My Vision.” This is an 8th Century Celtic hymn here sung by the group 4Him.
Would you like to respond to the reflection or song?
I cannot sleep so I am reading your blog on love Sr. Melannie. Wonderful thoughts as we approach Valentine’s Day.
I would add that love transforms us. I read recently that we can only God in retrospect. It is often hard in the moment to see love but often we can see God’s back. Reflection helps us to see more clearly.
I didn’t know that “Be Thou My Vision” was an 8th Century Celtic Hymn. As a very young girl, I learned to play it out of my Grandma Idie’s old 1928 Methodist hymnal so I always thought it was a Methodist Hymn. Grandma was nearly blind and loved to sing so I would play her favorite hymns on that old upright piano and we would sing. “Be Thou My Vision” was one of several old hymns that have stuck in my memory down through the years. Often I find myself using my own instrumental version of it as a Mass prelude – especially for funerals. I love the idea of it being a love song to God. Thank you, Sr. Melannie for this new insight into an old familiar prayer.
To fall in love with God is the greatest romance, to seek Him the greatest adventure; to find Him, the greatest human achievement.
+ St. Augustine of Hippo
Thanks for reminding me. Lately things I use to do out of love have become more burden or duty and that leads to resentment, an awful emotion. It is so easy to lose our way when it come to love. I now have been reading for three years and the wisdom you pass on and the songs lift me up each week and the love ones I pass them on to.
Will forward this on to all those whom I love.
Love is my religion. Song by Ziggy Marley
Thank you for this lovely-loving blog on love, most importantly to me is that you wrote it on what would have been my mother’s 110th birthday. She taught me and my siblings the importance of love.
Thank you, Sister.
Thank you, Sister Melannie. As always your words give me much to contemplate. I especially loved the song since I recently visited Ireland, home of my great-grandparents, for the first time. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the love and faithfulness of those who came before me.
Dear Sister Melannie,
Seeing the picture of the younger person’s hand holding the older person’s hand resonated. My mother died at the end of 2014. As she declined, oftentimes, I did not hold her hand out of love but out of duty. I am so grateful to God for the times I held her hand out of love. It was God’s grace.
I miss her so much.
Thank you for your dedication to your readers with such a beautiful blog and profound wisdom on love.
God Bless and Keep You,
Thank you. It is written in your blog and some of the comments, but love is a choice we continue to make everyday. Feelings can many times lead us astray.
Also, I would like to ask you if you are able to have an option to listen to your blog here at this site? (Much like many pod casts I listen to)
Just think, the Good Lord has blessed you and your ‘flock’ with five years of life experience which have deepened and broadened our shared wisdom and insights. May we trust that he is not finished with us yet.
Hi Sister Melannie,
As usual, your words and thoughts are timely, needed, and full of — especially this week — love! In the Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, the priest says to Frederick, “When you love someone you wish to do things for, you wish to sacrifice for, you wish to serve.” I’ve always found those words to be true. Happy blogaversary! And Happy Valentine’s day! Right now I’m exhausted because I’m from New England, and a certain outcome of a certain super bowl brought us a great deal of joy last night!
Thanks Sister Melanie,
For you thoughts and wisdom.
Happy Valentines Day to You!
Because we are human we all need to be loved and need to give love. We have to be grateful when love comes our way. I strive to be kind no matter what. It helps me make my love real.
Thanks, Melannie. Happy Valentines Day to you!
Dear Melannie, Happy Valentines Day to you! Your five truths about love
Are very true. I know them from Love Himself! Your truth about love hurts is especially true and I’ve experienced it, God is love ! All the Time!
Love , PJ ❤️
I always look forward to your blog each week. You lift the hearts of so many people each week so you are a beautiful loving gift to each of us. Thank You.
Congratulations Sr. on 5 years of writing weekly and thank you for sharing your loving wisdom all these years in such poignant, inspiring yet down-to-earth words.