The definition of Love can be very elusive, and to different people, Love has different meanings. May Chee examines Love as she knows it, through the Catholic scriptures. Readers may find that they probably agree on the same definition of Love in the end, regardless of religion.
In my book of quotations, 250 have been singled out for “love”! I guess, to different people, love does not mean the same thing. So, bear with me when I give my own version.
I’ve only had one boyfriend. He, later, became my husband. Did I gawk at handsome men when we were dating? Of course, I’m not blind! Did he drool at other women? Of course, hot is hot! At least, it’s proof that he’s “man”, at least the man for me. What was it that made me look his way? Way back in Form 6, when we were classmates, I realized that he was truly, a gentleman and humble, to boot. But what really nailed it was the fact that he could make me laugh. He tells my kids, for him, it was my “derriere” that did it for him. I had the cutest butt around! He swore that I wore the tightest skirt, then. To be fair, I was real tiny, only 83 lbs, i.e. 37.7 kg. Of course, my skirt has to be the smallest, too!
So, what is it that attracts a woman, in a man? I’ve warned my girls that “inherited” wealth should not be a criterion. It may come with baggage. The ability to create wealth is a different thing, though. A man who is willing to work hard to pursue his dreams; a man who is not afraid. So, what does it take to make that final commitment? I remember a conversation I once had with my eldest. Don’t marry a man that you can live with but a man you can’t live without. Cliché, much?
In today’s world of emancipated women, I would say that counts for a great deal! I also advised her to marry someone who would love her more than she would, him. Selfish? No, old-fashioned maybe, after all, I’m a dinosaur!
I mirror my own life when I say, a woman should marry a man like the above. I, myself, chose to be the woman behind the man. He grew and grew and became the man he can be . And I grew to love more. (By the way, this is not something from the grave. We are still at this growing stage.) Because he loved me so, this past 32 years that we ‘ve been “steady” ,he has grown to be a better person, for me and for our kids. Even when it came to our faith, he’s doing a lot more for it. I don’t know if I love him as much as he loves me, I only know, no mortal can love me more.
At a wedding I attended some years back, the brother of the groom who gave a toast had this to say, “Because of your love for the other, you will grow to be a better person.” This, to me, should be that ingredient , that “must”, in a relationship that will last. It cuts both ways, when I say, one must change, to be in a union. No one is born perfect. Till the day we die, we can still change for the better, what’s more for those who give meaning to our very existence. No pain, no gain.
I’m a Catholic. I converted after the birth of my last child. So, I’ve been a Catholic for a good 18 years. What really fascinates me about the sacrament of matrimony for a Catholic is that it truly is a case of “till death do us apart”. At least, that’s how it should and can be. Please bear with me while I share my faith with you.
According to the Good Book, some Pharisees came and put Him to the test with this question, “Is it right for a husband to divorce a wife?” He replied, “What law did Moses give you?” They answered, “Moses allowed us to write a certificate of dismissal in order to divorce.” Then Jesus said to them,
“Moses wrote this law for you, because you are stubborn. But in the beginning of creation, God made male and female, and because of this, man has to leave father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one body. Therefore, let no one separate what God has joined.” (Mk 10: 2-9)
A sacrament is a special kind of sign. To us Catholics, it is the sign by which God, the Father, through the person of Jesus, gives Himself to us in the Spirit. Through this sacrament, God is telling us that He is with us. I like to tell my kids, in everything you do, make God part of the equation; especially in love for love is meant to last forever. The Good Book tells us that when we want to meet that special someone, make God play the role of “cupid”. He knows best, so He will know who is the best for us. Logical, no?
To us, Catholics, there’s no such thing as a “divorce”. A marriage is meant to be forever. Does the word “forever” frighten you? In the word “forever”, I find hope. Like I said earlier, till the day we die, we can still change for the better. Give love a chance, give love “forever”. Give that love of your life “forever” to know him, to love him, for him to be the man that he can be. In “forever”, there is always tomorrow, there is always, “let’s try again”.
In “forever”, we learn to not let the sun set with our anger. In “forever”, we allow ourselves time to forgive each other’s transgressions, sharing each other’s responsibilities, shouldering each other’s burdens, to be subject to each other out of love. In “forever”, we can polish a diamond, instead of the graphite that’s stuck in a rut. We have “forever”, so why the rush? Patience is truly a virtue, here.
Is this sacrament of matrimony not a beautiful thing? The Good Book tells us that “Marriage is in God’s plan”. God Himself is the author of marriage. It was instituted by God in the Garden of Eden and raised to the dignity of a sacrament by Jesus in the New Covenant. It is a union between man and woman as part of His eternal plan for the world He created. Their mutual love becomes an image and likeness of God who is Himself “Love”.
St. Paul reminds husbands and wives to be living examples of Christ’s love union with His people and to be a witness of Christ’s love. The tenderness and fidelity that God has shown His people throughout (“He remains faithful even when His spouse proves unfaithful……..” – Hosea 2:19-20; spouse, meaning the Church or His people.) and His self-sacrificing love (“God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son……..” – John 3:16) and that of His Son, Jesus (“I will be with you always…….” – Matt 28:20), should be the basis of a Catholic marriage. It is an efficacious sign to the world of Christ’s presence.
We are born, both human and divine. Let us, not always rationalize a wrongdoing by saying, “We are only human.” We can aspire to be better. Let’s imitate God’s selfless and unconditional love for us in our own equation of love. Let’s try. It is no easy task, living for another and others; working towards their salvation; a state of life, so selfless as opposed to a single life – caring for only oneself. However, if we allow God to be part of the equation, I’m pretty sure He will shower us with graces to fulfill this gargantuan task.
We have to be smart in this life. One thing I’ve learnt. I can only do my best but I have to leave the rest to God. Doesn’t that make life easier and simpler? So, before we make any decision, especially one having life-long repercussions, let’s pray for discernment. Does it sound crazy if I say that sometimes, you have to think with your heart and feel with your mind? To make sound decisions, I believe we need to marry the two ; to be both rational and merciful.
In discerning, we narrow all choices to only two. Choose the one that brings you desolation – obviously it’s the wrong one! Choose the one that liberates you; where you can find yourself and be true – definitely the way to go! Discernment as they say is the capacity in the changing circumstances of daily life, to distinguish between the two paths or modes of living and to choose the path that leads to life. Life, as it should be. My two-sen worth, “Let’s all pray for discernment.”
God bless and may you all find “true love”.