New Year’s Eve chat on What is Love

Merry Christmas! Now that we are into the Christmas season, we can continue our chats like normal. We are moving the section of “What is Love?” from Saint Francis’ Treatise on the Love of God. Be sure to watch the video here, “What Is Love” to help deepen your reflection and give you a new way to embrace his timeless wisdom. (If you prefer to read St. Francis’ original text, read “Description of Love in General.”)

Did you know there are different categories of love?

Love is willing the good of another

St. Francis de Sales states that love is not an emotion. Love is a decision, an act of the will. The reason we love something is that we perceive it to be good for us. Thus, for St. Francis de Sales, love is simply the movement, outpouring and progress of our heart toward whatever the will perceives as good.

A. For St. Francis de Sales, love is a decision, an act of the will:

  1. How might this be different from contemporary society’s understanding of love?
  2. What are some implications for our spiritual life?
  3. How might this impact my relationship with people I don’t like?

B. St. Francis de Sales states that love aspires to union. He describes this love using the image of a passionate kiss from the Song of Songs in which the lovers pour their entire being into each other and unite in a passionate union. Is this example still relevant for people today? Can you think of another example that would be relevant for people today?

C. Suppose a friend confides in you: “I’m having a real problem at work. I work with this woman who really bothers me. I just don’t like her at all. I know I’m supposed to be Christian with her but it is so hard. I just don’t feel like loving her or think she deserves my time. I’d rather just ignore her but she makes it impossible. What should I do?” How would you answer her?

D. Beyond St. Francis. The priest in the video discusses the three distinct types of love, which came from Greek thought. But he explains how today we understand that we love as a total person. This thought was developed by Pope St. John Paul II and his Theology of the Body, in which sexual love is superseded by the the total gift of self. How does this improve our understanding of what love is?

For Saint Francis’ own words, please read “Description of Love in General.”

Click to watch the above video reflection,“What Is Love”.

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