Beyond Romance: Finding Love in a Loveless Society

Feb 11, 2022 | Articles, Friendships & Relationships

By Vir Christi

Right like clockwork, every year on December 26th stores begin sweeping away their Christmas stock to put up Valentine’s Day gear.  Candy, bouquets, cards, and other forms of goodies and romantic gifts can be found lining the shelves.  As Catholics, we have a unique opportunity this time of year to teach others about the proper meaning of love.  That’s what Valentine’s Day is supposed to be all about.  But does our society recognize what love actually is?  

Where Society Gets it Wrong

Society likes to believe in love.  This is one of the main reasons why the chick flick has become such a popular entertainment genre: people desperately, adamantly, overwhelmingly want to find that one person out there for them who makes them come alive.  That one person who makes their heart sing, and makes them feel like they’re living in a dream.  Deep down, every single one of us wants to believe that if that story is true for the movie, then it can be made true for us.  But here is one of the problems with that genre: love is not a feeling.

We talk all the time about doing what “feels” right.  Love is much more profound than this; it’s a movement of the will towards something which is good and desirable.  The truest sense of love that one human being can have for another is not the butterflies that someone gets in their stomach when they see an attractive person.  To love is to will the absolute good of another person by desiring their happiness (found only in God).  The pinnacle example of this is Christ on the Cross. Jesus willed for us that we might be joined to God in eternity, and so laid down His life for the accomplishment of that potential happiness.

An irreligious society like ours can’t comprehend that sort of sacrificial love, because it rejects Jesus as the purest example and pinnacle of that love.  So how can we explain the truth about love to people in our society today?

Love is Known by Its Effects

The best-known Bible passage defining love is that classic verse from Saint Paul: “Love is patient, love is kind…” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).  It is very easy to fool ourselves into believing that we’ve found love when we actually haven’t.  Something that looks like true love isn’t always authentic.  

But if we are so gullible and susceptible to misapplying Paul’s instructions, how can we know if our love is authentic?  How can we know if we’re truly desiring the good of another person, or if we’re just having the butterflies?

Authentic love is known by its effects.  Love strengthens everything around it.  Love introduces peace into the hearts of the people who show it to others, and to whom it is shown.  More profoundly than that, authentic love makes us stand up in the deepest recesses of our hearts and sing, I am seenI am known.  A person only needs to take one look at the world and see just how far our society is from understanding authentic love.

The absence of authentic love can be seen in a number of troubling statistics, as seen in this government study.  Increasing numbers of adults in the United States are struggling with depression and anxiety, which stem from a deeper feeling of loneliness.  Why are so many people so lonely?  In a society where we are more technologically connected than ever before in human history, why do people feel even more distant?

People are lonely because they don’t feel seen or understood.  Try saying to someone you care about, “You matter to me,” with feeling.  Watch some of the lines on their faces soften.  Watch the tension seep out of their shoulders.  That right there is proof positive that we’ve lost sight of true love in our society.

Seize the Moment

Valentine’s Day presents an opportunity for us as Catholics. It is a time when society is receptive to talking about love.  People love to see love, but they get uncomfortable talking about why it’s disappearing from society. Valentine’s Day creates the opening to have that conversation.  Find that friend that you know on Valentine’s Day who’s feeling lonely and remind them that they matter.  Use that as an opportunity to be present for them, so that the Holy Spirit can sidle in.  Let’s fall in love with actual love again, and not the shallow Hollywood nonsense.  Authentic love is worth it, and so are you

Vir Christi

Vir Christi

Vir’s heart has been on fire for the Church from day one, and he dreams of the day when Constantinople will be a city again. He has a competitive drive satiated by sports and board games, but is also just as happy to sit down and read a good book for hours on end.

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