Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Valentine's Day - Where is Love?

Valentine's Day is coming. People are preparing to entertain love, either new or old.  Let us look at the psychological effects of love and the Catholic Church's teaching on love.

Love is a complex and powerful emotion that can have profound effects on our psychological well-being. It can motivate us, inspire us, heal us, and sometimes hurt us. But what is love, and how does it relate to the Catholic Church's teaching of love?

According to psychologists, love is not a single feeling, but a combination of three components: intimacy, passion, and commitment. Intimacy refers to the emotional closeness and sharing that occurs in a relationship. Passion refers to the physical attraction and sexual desire that fuels a relationship. Commitment refers to the decision and willingness to stay in a relationship for the long term.

These three components can vary in intensity and combination, resulting in different types of love. For example, romantic love involves high intimacy and passion, but may or may not involve commitment. Companionate love involves high intimacy and commitment, but low or no passion. Infatuated love involves high passion, but low or no intimacy or commitment. And consummate love involves high intimacy, passion, and commitment.

The Catholic Church teaches that love is more than a feeling; it is a choice and an action. It is a reflection of God's love for us, and a way of participating in His divine life. The Church distinguishes between two kinds of love: eros and agape. Eros is the human love that seeks the good of the beloved, and that can be expressed through physical and emotional intimacy. Agape is the divine love that seeks nothing in return, and that can be expressed through self-sacrifice and service.

The Church affirms that eros and agape are not opposed, but complementary. They are both aspects of the same love that God has for us, and that we are called to have for Him and for others. The Church also teaches that eros and agape are both necessary for a healthy and holy marriage. A marriage without eros would lack passion and joy; a marriage without agape would lack fidelity and generosity.

The Church recognizes that love is a gift from God, but also a challenge and a responsibility. It requires grace, effort, and perseverance to grow and mature. It also requires discernment, wisdom, and guidance to avoid the pitfalls and dangers that can harm or destroy it. The Church offers various resources and supports to help couples and individuals cultivate and protect their love, such as the sacraments, prayer, Scripture, moral teachings, pastoral care, counseling, education, and social services.

Today we often find ourselves asking where is the love? There is so much contention and hate in this world that love seems hopeless.  While love is classified by academia as a social construct, we cannot deny the measurability of it. The human brain concocts all kinds of chemicals that allow the human person to experience emotions and sensations. These help human beings interact with each other. The problem in the world today is that love is missing or undiscoverable. Rather, the problem is the substitution of love with other social constructs such as money, success, ambition, porn, sexual pleasure, selfish attitudes, and an over-fascination with making pets into companions. 

Humanity today is plagued by the errors of relativism. Because of this, we are seeing all kinds of problems in relationships and overall confusion concerning sexuality and gender expression. The Catholic Church needs to push back against this, or humanity will be lost, socially speaking.

The psychological effects of love and the Catholic Church's teaching of love are both fascinating and important topics to explore. They can help us understand ourselves better, appreciate God's plan for us more, and live our relationships more fully.

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