I've spent nearly a week with my wife, my youngest son, his soon to be bride and my beautiful granddaughter Amelia. We experienced moments that will be treasured forever. To say I loved it is to speak understatedly in a huge way.
What makes something, or more specifically, someone, lovely?
"The greatest of these," wrote the Apostle Paul, "is love" (1 Cor. 13:13). Many centuries later, in a culture quite foreign to the Apostle to the Gentiles, the singer John Lennon earnestly insisted, "All we need is love."
Different men, different intents, different contexts. Even different types of "love." You hardly need to subscribe to People magazine or to frequent the cinema to know that love is the singularly insistent subject of movies, songs, novels, television dramas, sitcoms, and talk shows—the nearly monolithic entity known as "pop culture." We are obsessed with love. Or "love." With or without quotation marks, it’s obvious that this thing called love occupies the minds, hearts, emotions, lives, and wallets of homo sapiens.
Yet two questions are rarely asked, considered, contemplated: Why love? And, what is love? These aren’t just good questions for philosophical discussions—these are important, powerful questions that all Catholics and atheists should consider.
What Is This Thing Called Love?
One man who spent much time and thought considering the why and how of love was St. John Paul II. "Man cannot live without love," he wrote in Redemptor Hominis, his first encyclical. "He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it" (10).
That is a statement both St. Paul and John Lennon could agree with, for it states something that is evident to the thoughtful person, whether Christian or otherwise: I need love. I want to love. I am made for love.
But what is love?
Of course, there's much more, all of it worth your time, particularly Mr. Olson's closing paragraphs.
Go read it. You'll love it. And perhaps in the end understand why.
I'm able to juxtapose this past week with Mr. Olson's piece and know what I found so satisfying, what brought me so much contentment, was in essence merely a reflection, a glimpse really, of a much higher love.