Lent, 2nd Sunday.
Four Things the Church is Serious About, #2: The Church is Serious about Love
What is the greatest symbol of love? Not the heart, not flowers or chocolates, not two young people kissing… the Crucifix. We hang it in every Catholic Church because it is the greatest symbol of love. The crucifix teaches us that love is sacrifice. To love someone means to lay down your life for that person. The Church expects that you will save sex for marriage. Why? Because when you meet someone, fall in love, exchange chocolates and kisses and Valentines, you have the seeds of love, but it isn’t really love yet. Those seeds have to grow and put down roots. Love is sacrifice, and you have not yet laid down your life for that person. It is only truly love when you stand before the world, in front of an altar (a place of sacrifice), and you say with all your heart, “I take you to be my wife (husband), I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad…” Then it’s really love, because you have given your life to your beloved forever.
The Love Triangle: Marriage, Sex, and Babies
Marriage creates a bond that is a safe space where the husband and wife know they will not be dropped or abandoned. They can love without holding back! One of the natural consequences of such passionate love is children. Marriage is also a cradle to catch the children that may be conceived through physical expressions of love. All three of these things: Marriage, Sex, and Babies, were meant to go together. To choose one is to choose the other two as well. The two become one, and then three in one. Your love is so real that nine months later you may have to give it a name. Love welcomes children, because they expand the circle of love. They are a new opportunity to sacrifice, a new place to lay down your life, and a priceless gift of God’s love. Your love has grown. God invented safe sex and called it “Marriage.”
What the World Calls “Love” is really Selfishness, not self-sacrifice
Our modern world has destroyed the “Love Triangle.” It has created the illusion that you can pick any one without the other two. You can have sex without marriage or babies, babies without marriage or sex, and marriage without babies. There is even marriage without sex for so many sad couples. If we do a quick inventory of TV, movies, and our own conversation, “I Love You” roughly means: “You make me feel good.” We meet someone and we “fall in love” (they make us feel good). We spend time with them and we decide to “make love” (feels even better). Then after a while they say, “I don’t love you anymore” (you don’t make me feel good anymore), and they go to find someone new. We think that love without sacrifice, without commitment, without consequences, will be more fulfilling. It ends up emptying us – because love without sacrifice isn’t really love.
If you are engaged in a sexual relationship with someone you are not married to, you need to stop that sexual activity. One of two things will happen. If you are meant to be married, this will give your relationship a chance to grow and put down deep roots, and really be ready to bear fruit. If instead the relationship falls apart, you have just saved yourself years of heartache.
Sacrifice never feels good at first, but when it bears fruit, it feels amazing. Love is sacrifice. It isn’t really love until you have laid down your life for your partner at the altar. There, in the sacrifice of Christ and our own sacrifices, we discover True Love.