The True Meaning of Love

I am by no means an expert on love. I have been married now for just over 15 months. Today being St. Valentine’s Day I wanted to share some reflections on what our faith tells us love is really all about. For all the single people out there hopefully it can give you some consolation. For those who are married hopefully it can continue to challenge us to live out our vocation.

We hear all the time that “God is love?” But what does that really mean? St. Thomas Aquinas defines love as “to will the good of another.” To be more specific, to love someone is to put their well being, their happiness, and their needs before my own. So to say that God is love means that He wills for all of us, whom he created, to be happy. Now the question becomes what makes us happy. When we talk about happiness or the ultimate good of humans we aren’t talking about corporal earthly things, we are talking about heaven. Our ultimate good, our ultimate happiness will come when we are in communion with God in heaven.

Some of these concepts that before seemed very abstract I can now understand and grasp on a deeper level since being married. “When a man and a woman are united by true love, each one takes on the destiny, the future of the other, as his or her own.” For many years I found myself searching for the true love in all the wrong places. Through the many failed relationships I always held on to this idea that I about true love; this idea about true love that I came to appreciate through the teachings of St. John Paul II. I can recall reading the many talks he gave on human love which is now referred to as Theology of the Body. John Paul II’s thesis for all of the talks was shared in his talk on Feb. 20, 1980 when he said, “The body, in fact, and it alone is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine. It was created to transfer into the visible reality of the world, the mystery hidden since time immemorial in God, and thus to be a sign of it.” Human beings are body and soul and the two are intimately connected. The body is capable of making the spiritual and divine realities of love visible. The body speaks its own language and if we misuse our bodies then the language we are speaking is not of God.

Marriages are made to be concrete expressions of divine love. It is through a husband and a wife joined in Holy Matrimony that we can understand God’s love more fully.  Now that I have found this true love I feel like I understand not only John Paul II’s Theology of the Body better, but myself and my relationship with God better. I have a new destiny, the destiny of my spouse and my only job now is to love her and work to get her to heaven each and every day. I cannot thank St. John Paul II enough for this understanding that will frame the rest of my life and I pray for his intercession each and every day that I will be able to make this sincere gift of myself.

To all my single people out there the message is to hold on and wait for true love, do not settle for any substitute. To all the married and dating people, we must ask ourselves “am I leading my partner to heaven?” If not, than we must do better.

Happy St. Valentine’s Day!