REFLECTING HIS LOVE IN THE WORLD
It’s the month of love and that time when all things pink, red, heart shaped and romantic bounce off the shelves. I have zero time for the shops because I’ve been so busy and, maybe it’s me…but I haven’t seen a ton of V-Day bling in and around Los Angeles. Yup. Loveless in LA.
Single or hitched (single), I love the love and this February season. Maybe being from Boston it’s the idea of roses in winter or it’s just all the fun and flood of the woo. Maybe it’s because my parents are a Valentine couple, but I’ve never felt the crazy weird commercial pressure that some feel – totally freaked out by Valentine’s if they aren’t being romanced or create the need to associate with a “black” holiday or X it out as irrelevant.
Tangent: I’ve never had a Christmas tree in LA because of the fact that I’ve never been in this back house for more then a few days at a time and it seemed like a waste. But five years into this California dream land, I put up not one, but TWO trees and yeah, you guessed, I morphed them into Valentine trees. There’s no pink or red but I stuffed them with white roses for a little feminine romantic flare. And they might just stay up forever. Or at least until my man breaks me out of here.
I meet a lot of single ladies along the way in my travels for work and in ministry and so many feel inferior due to their single status and find it challenging and isolating as they wait, especially in a countercultural way. You know exactly what I mean. I want to encourage all you single sisters (and guys) to never give up on love. If God has planted a desire in your heart for love and marriage, keep pressing in and persevering in prayer that you be strengthened to wait for the man God has for you. And when you have identified it – ACT. The Bible says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and favor from the Lord.” Saint Valentine is an excellent saint to pray to that your man will find you. And that you will have the capacity to wait and not take it into your own hands. (and that you men, will seek and find her). Above all, the foundation for all this is that you first have an intimate relationship with God. Without Him, you are flying extra solo.
If you have been following this blog for a while, it’s no secret that one of my heroes is Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. I “met” him through the book Three to Get Married (link to read it here.) This book really changed my life because it’s the truth about what takes place between a man and woman in love and in the Sacrament of Marriage. Not for nothing, but no one is preaching this stuff from the rooftops or from pulpits or anywhere. The world is informing people in a way that encourages hook-up culture in a commitment-less haze of self pleasure that doesn’t point upward toward Heaven. And quite frankly, everyone is down right scared about the empty world “view” of modern relationships.
There is a mystery to preserving this great gift for the one called to be yours. Sheen was prolific and was also a matchmaker, so you can team him up with Saint Valentine for a nuclear explosion of love. One of my MOST favorite Sheen quotes is:
“Two glasses that are empty cannot fill up one another. There must be a fountain of water outside the glasses, in order that they may have communion with one another. It takes three to make love.”
Nuclear. Do you hear that? We might feel like we have too much of a past, or are fearful about marriage “success” or we didn’t have good examples of marriage in our own lives to pave a little vision of the goodness of marriage for us. If the marriages around us seem empty, broken and failed, it could seem like an impossibility to do something well when there is such a call. And you know that everyone is dropping like flies. Sheen says, in order to love, we have to be filled by the Lover. As we make Christ our primary source for Love and an infilling of His spirit, that Love flows outward to our spouse – it creates a Trinity of Love and then flows outward to the entire world. A love that cannot be contained. Think of Christ’s side poured out from the Cross. A love so fierce, so radical in its witness can never be contained. It gushes forth. In marriage there is sort of a Divine Mercy. The above three sentences from Sheen blow my mind. God doesn’t want us to fail in love. He came for Love. He died for Love. He wants us to take flight in love and resurrect the wounded places. He invites us to imitate His Love and give him our wounds, pasts, betrayals and be renewed by making ourselves vulnerable in sacrifice for another. In the Sacrament of Marriage, we lay down our lives and become under the mission of Christ. So men, if you are under the mission of Christ, you will have all your need. In turn, the woman is in submission to her man who is under the mission of Christ. This is not some slavish reality. Don’t you want to be under the mission of a man under the mission of Christ? Covering. Shelter. Fire. Boom boom. Life changing power. World changing power!
I love that our culture celebrates a form of love and romance, but the reality is that this sweet “holiday” is at its root in honor of Saint Valentine who was a bishop and a martyr. He was a third century Roman saint who when in prison secretly married couples and while in prison healed his jailers blind daughter. He was eventually killed for his actions. Given the fact that we live in a society where marriage is under extreme attack so much so that there is a new loneliness penetrating the earth with so many single people uncommitted to a vocation, we should really lean into Saint Valentine as a heroic helper to lead people out of fear, out of bachelorhood, our of selfishness all the way to the altar. Saint Valentine is the patron saint of engaged couples, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, and travelers. There is a nine day novena that begins TODAY and ends on February 14th. Pray the novena
As hard as it is to come together in love, there is a grace period in the waiting. The truth of the matter is that love and fidelity do not begin at the altar. It starts way earlier as you wait my ladies in waiting (and gents. sorry, I just know many more girlie girls are reading my blog, but hopefully the guys are trolling too). I know for myself that I needed to be purified from the world and reformed in a way that really stripped me of worldly thinking about marriage. We live in a fallen world that holds up many false narratives about love and relationship that are simply impossible to follow and are a set up for misery and failure. There is a throw away culture that tells you leaving is ok, that self-sufficiency is ok, that you should get your way and do it all, you should keep your options open, and that waiting is from the dark ages. If love doesn’t wait now, how can it wait inside a marriage?
Waiting teaches us to stay. Waiting teaches us sacrifice. Waiting teaches us about the exclusive personal love of God. Waiting is a supreme gift. Waiting is where we cultivate our love affair with the things of Heaven. If you have a past, it’s forgotten after Confession and should have no bearing on the good life of love you are being called to. Jesus forgave you and so will your spouse. The Sacrament will break all chains. Is there anything more powerful than the Sacrament of Love where TWO become united in one flesh in His name? Unstoppable!!
WE are not perfect and the only really perfect Love is in Jesus Christ. No husband or wife will bring perfection, but He will bring His perfection to every aspect of the union. Why be afraid when He is the Divine Matchmaker and Divine Lover in between? Rooted in Him that Perfect Love penetrates and anoints, raises up, heals, blesses and brings power and grace that you could never have on your own. Fulton Sheen gives us another love smack:
“The human heart is not shaped like a valentine heart, perfect and regular in contour it is slightly irregular in shape as if a small piece of it were missing out of its side. The missing part may very well symbolize a piece that a spear tore out of the universal heart of humanity on the Cross, but it probably symbolizes something more. It may very well mean that when God created each human heart, he kept a small sample of it in heaven, and sent the rest of it into the world, where it would each day learn the lesson that it could never be really happy, that it could never be really wholly in love, that it could never be really whole-hearted until it rested with the Risen Christ in an eternal Easter.”
May your hearts be open to receive the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and may He unite your heart to the one your soul loves.
A toast to love!