On this day that celebrates love, we might do ourselves and our Valentines a favor by setting aside all the nonsense about love that we get in both obvious and subliminal messages from our culture.
You know: Love is mostly about hot sex; love is optional and fleeting; if you're not near the one you love, love the one you're near; love is about buying stuff for someone so someone might buy stuff for you; love and sex are synonymous, and, finally, did I mention confusing love with just sex?
These and similar messages are everywhere in our culture of celebrity worship and material possession.
Instead, we might get a slightly better sense of love if we were to dig through some of the many things said about it by famous authors and other thinkers. A few samples:
-- "Love is a platform upon which all ranks meet." -- Sir William S. Gilbert.
-- "Love is an egotism of two." -- Jacques-Antoine de Salle.
-- "Love is the strange bewilderment which overtakes one person on account of another person." -- James Thurber and E.B. White.
-- "We are born for love; it is the principle of existence and its only end." -- Benjamin Disraeli.
-- "Platonism in love is like water in wine. Let us drink our wine pure." -- Henri Murger.
And on and on. And we learn a bit that way. But for my money, there are no more revealing words about true love than those found in the middle of the 13th chapter of the New Testament book of I Corinthians, which comes right before the chapter that faux Bible scholar Donald Trump referred to in the recent presidential campaign as "Two Corinthians." Here's the way the Common English Bible renders the passage I have in mind:
"Love is patient, love is kind, it isn't jealous, it doesn't brag, it isn't arrogant, it isn't rude, it doesn't seek its own advantage, it isn't irritable, it doesn't keep a record of complaints, it isn't happy with injustice but is happy with the truth. Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things. Love never fails."
It's that kind of love for which our most vulnerable souls are desperate.
(The photo here today is one I took a few years ago in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love.)
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AN APOLOGY FROM THE POPE
The other day here on the blog, I wrote about how those abused by Catholic priests have a continuing need for advocates. In the introduction to a new book, Pope Francis has written that such abuse is "an absolute monstrosity" and has asked for forgiveness on behalf of the church. The ripple effects of this scandal will continue long into the future. The bishops responsible for protecting abusive priests must continue to be identified and held to account.