Flagler Beach Florida sunrise / bob traupman.
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY, EVERYONE!
We’ve been reflecting on St. Paul’s eloquent words about love from I Corinthians 13. And this is my final post on the subject.
Love is not pompous, it is not inflated, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.
Romantic love wears off in a few months. True love requires fidelity. I often remember people I met briefly twenty or thirty years ago and I still have a place in my heart for them, even those who were adversaries. And when I think of them I believe my prayer is able to touch them even now, either living or dead.
We think often think we know all about love but Love is an Art and a Discipline to be learned and acquired by trial and error. Or perhaps unlearn what we have learned in abusive homes or families and find people who can teach us well. I am profoundly grateful for the people who allowed my soul to unfold and blossom because of their love.
When I taught high school seniors (51 years ago!) I had them read two books, Erich Fromm’s Art of Loving and Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. I still would recommend both books to anyone who wants to become a whole and healed human person.
Many of us keep focusing on finding the right object of our love. Fromm–and Jesus– tell us that being a person who is capable of loving the stranger in the checkout line at the 7-11 or your sibling whose guts you can’t stand is the way we will learn to love.
Love is being free to love the one you’re with so you can be with the one you love.
It is just not possible to love some and hate others. St. John says, “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer.”
Love is being able to see and respond to the loving energy of the universe and spread it around instead of trying to possess it for oneself.
Love is faithfully loving whomever God puts in our life at every turn of our life’s journey. A hard task sometimes. I know.
St. Paul’s Ode to Love (1 Corinthians 13) is about the awesome love that transforms.
But many of us don’t know how to love in a way that transforms because we’re more interested in getting love than giving it.
So, let’s think about that for a moment.
Many young folks in our society have not experienced the love that transforms, even from their own parents or their spouses. Very often, their relationships center on their own needs, even when they’re “giving” to their significant other.
But in order to love in a transforming way, we have to be loved in a way that frees us.
So I ask you ~
Who are the people in your life who were able to recognize the YOU inside you?
Who-knew-who-you-were behind the mask you present to the world each day?
Who are the people who recognized-your-gifts and called-them-forth-from-the-deep-within-you?
Who-drew-forth-the-goodness-they-saw-in-you when what you were presenting to the world you a self thought wasn’t very good at all?
That’s love that transforms! That heals. That gets us going again. That moves us down the road a bit.
At this moment I want to name one such person who has had an enormous influence on my life. He is Father Eugene Walsh–God rest him. We used to call him Gino. He was the rector of my seminary the year I was preparing for ordination. He was a Father-figure for me and a mentor; I learned most of what I know about the sacred liturgy from him.
I had the good fortunate to get on his short list to have him as my spiritual director. He had a way of listening deeply below the level of my words.
I remember one night in his study. We were sitting across from each other in two easy chairs. I was always intrigued that the wall behind him was bright orange with a large abstract painting on it. I was struggling that night about whether I would proceed toward ordination.
Of a sudden, he came over to me, hugged me and whispered in my ear my name ~ Bob ~ and I heard it resonate for the longest time. His voice found me ~ some place deep within and called me forth.
I can still hear him calling me–as I write. At that moment, his deep, resonating love ~ transformed me. Affirmed me, confirmed me. (I hope to write one day about my priesthood and my bipolar journey and tell the story of this wonderful man and the many others who influenced and shaped my life over the years; there are many; and I am grateful to each and every one.)
But more than any other person, there is Jesus; I try to be like him. He was so human. He teaches me how to be a human being, above all. To be a simple, decent, human being. And to be human, most of all, is to be capable of loving and receiving love. The same was true of Father Walsh.
And that’s what I’ve always taught: Sin is the refusal Of love, the refusal To love, the refusal to grow and the refusal to give thanks.
So ask yourself: Who are the people who really knew who you were on the inside, accepted you as you are–the good and the bad–and called you forth to be the best person you could be?
Why don’t you reflect on this through the day — while you’re driving, sitting on the john or doing the dishes. Give thanks for them. And maybe give them a call. Not an email; a phone call.
And finally, I’m thinking of a married couple who celebrated 67 Valentine’s Days together and I still talk with her years after her husband passed and she cared for him with years of Alzheimer’s disease. And maybe you, this day, are thinking of someone close to you, perhaps your own spouse, whom you have lost and still preciously remember this Valentine’s day.
let us love one another because love is of God;
everyone who is begotten of God has knowledge of God.
No one has ever seen God.
Yet if we love one another
God dwells in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us. (1 Jn 4:7, 12)
Dear Friends, see if you can make this prayer er your own ~
Good and gracious God,
You are the One most of all who has loved me into wholeness,
who is calling me forth to be the best person I can be,
calling me not so much to want to be loved as to love.
I thank you for sending people into my life who, even for a brief moment,
have touched me deep within and helped to transform me into a more deeply loving person.
Help me always to be a person who is capable of transforming love.
And now, before you go, here’s a hymn based on St. Paul’s Ode to Love: Click Here. It’s soft and lovely, so be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen. And if you’d like to know a bit about St. Valentine (who was bumped from the new liturgical calendar) . . .
St. Valentine, (died 3rd century, Rome; feast day February 14), name of one or two legendary Christian martyrs whose lives seem to be historically based. Although the Roman Catholic Church continues to recognize St. Valentine as a saint of the church, he was removed from the General Roman Calendar in 1969 because of the lack of reliable information about him. He is the patron saint of lovers, epileptics, and beekeepers.
By some accounts, St. Valentine was a Roman priest and physician who suffered martyrdom during the persecution of Christians by the emperor Claudius II Gothicus about 270. He was buried on the Via Flaminia, and Pope Julius I reportedly built a basilica over his grave. Other narratives identify him as the bishop of Terni, Italy, who was martyred, apparently also in Rome, and whose relics were later taken to Terni. It is possible these are different versions of the same original account and refer to only one person.
According to legend, St. Valentine signed a letter “from your Valentine” to his jailer’s daughter, whom he had befriended and healed from blindness. Another common legend states that he defied the emperor’s orders and secretly married couples to spare the husbands from war.
Valentine’s Day as a lovers’ festival dates at least from the 14th century. Encycopaedia Britannica