We often hear the statement that “God is love.” It appears in Scripture and in descriptions of God, and rightly so, for God truly is love; however, that idea does very little to help us understand God. I mean, we all appreciate the concept of love; but we usually associate love with a feeling of peace and contentment, happiness and joy. In reality, those are the after effects of love. Those are the feelings we receive from love. They are not love, itself.
So what is love? Fortunately, St. Paul spoke to the Corinthians about love. He named love’s characteristics. He helped them, and us, to recognize love as it appears in the world. He shared the truth about love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
“Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, 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. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
Now we can look at the individual characteristics of love. We can see the truth about love – patience, kindness, no jealousy, no arrogance, no exaggeration, no rudeness, no self-centeredness, slow to anger, no brooding, no happiness about wrongs, happiness in truth, tolerant, faith-filled, hopeful, enduring. Those are things we can look for and recognize. Those are traits we can emulate. Those are the things we appreciate in others.
When we focus on the characteristics of love to understand our God, we have a clearer picture of Him:
- He is patient. He would never force Himself into our lives, but waits for our invitation.
- He is kind, so no mean thing comes from Him. His plan was not to have illness, disasters, pain, or death. His plan was and still is paradise for all of us.
- He is not jealous. He wants the best for us.
- He is not arrogant. After all He is God, He could be demanding of our choice and behavior, but He is not.
- He is truth. Even if the information is challenging, He shares what He knows we need.
- He is not rude. He does not want us to fail or to be hurt or to be less than all we can be.
- He is not self-centered. His desire is for our happiness.
- He is slow to anger. Just imagine the number of times we would have done away with humankind if we were in charge.
The litany could go on and on.
If we understand God in this light and if we choose to be more like our Father, we have a real path to follow. In Jesus, we have a clear picture of God and how to walk that path. We can be love for one another and love our God.
God is love. There is no greater choice than to be more like our Father.
It’s October and St. Michael’s always puts on a Pre-Cana to help couples get
ready for living their marriage. Topics such as communication, finance,
in-laws and faith are covered in the day. Much time is spent putting on
a festive event. During our Pre-Cana time, we try to look at putting on a
I love weddings. I have done over 900 weddings and love every one of them.
It is nice to share in the excitement, joy, fear and commitment of the couples and their guests. It is often at these heartfelt times, in the
depth humanity, God is found. I love weddings.
Some of my best priest stories happen around weddings. With over 900
weddings that I have witnessed as a priest, there have been some very human and very Godly times. Here are a couple of stories.
I had a wedding when the 17 year locust epidemic was in full bloom in
Virginia. As the bride made her way to the church, the locusts were
attracted by a white moving object. By the time she got in church, the
dress was a moving living brown outfit.
With 5 minutes before the ceremony, bride remembered to pick up her mom at the hotel which was 45 minutes away from the church.
I got to marry a couple in the hospital two days before the groom went to
his eternal reward.
I got to be the DJ at the reception when the hired help became intoxicated.
(There was a lot of “Brick House” (my favorite dance tune) being played that night.
I especially like to talk to couples in my office to hear their stories
first-hand. My job is to talk them out of getting married. If I can talk
them out of getting married they were probably not too ready in the first
place. (There is a movie starring Robin Williams which has the same story
line.) If a couple passes my interviews, I’m ready to celebrate their vows
We have a good time in the office and the questions are fun. The youngest couple to come in to get married was 14. The oldest person I married was 92. Marriage is a lifetime in which a couple picks each other to share in the fullness of life, to share in finding the Lord. They celebrate that God has called them to share in the fullness of life as a couple.
I have lots of weddings coming up including three family weddings. The best to all of you. The best to our Pre-Cana weekend.
What advice can you give our Pre-Cana couples this weekend?
The question about having sex before Marriage is an important one to grasp. It hints at something more than a common, usual experience. It alludes to something desirous that needs to be treated in a special way. Thus it is imperative to understand the act of sex and how it can manifest love.
The union of man and woman during sexual intercourse is a unique gift of giving and a clear role in the action of creation. The sanctity of sex is reflected in the ultimate communion of two people, the complete giving and receiving of one for another. In addition, that union may be further mirrored in a new human life. The act of sex brings man and woman together as one. It continues the story of creation. It must be an action of love.
For this reason, we can not treat sex as a casual, earthly event. When we recognize the sacred nature of this union, we must surround it with the reverence and appreciation that it deserves. The Church looks to Christ to understand the complete giving of self for another and how to embrace full communion.
When we consider how Christ became a man, suffered, died and rose for us, we have the truth about love. He is what love looks like. His witness shows that love is given totally, freely, faithfully, and fruitfully. He gave Himself without holding anything back. He did so freely, not forced. He remained faithful to us throughout his entire life on earth and continues to be with us in the Eucharist. The fruits of His action of love are mercy and the opening of Heaven.
By using this lens to look at having sex before Marriage, we can see the shortcomings of that action. Pre-marital sex is not a total and faithful giving of oneself because it lacks a complete commitment, no witnessed pledge or vow. Pre-marital sex is not often given freely, but rather coerced as a ‘show of love’ or ‘just something that two people do next.’ Pre-marital sex does not strengthen the family unit that children need.
With this truth of Christ before us, we see why sex is an action of love between husband and wife. Through the Sacrament of Marriage they have answered the questions that most identify a loving relationship:
- “Have you come here freely to give yourself to one another without reservation?”
- “Do you promise to be faithful until death?”
- “Do you promise to receive children lovingly from God?”
Their vows to one another are a witness to us that they desire to love one another as Christ loves his Church – TOTALLY, FREELY, FAITHFULLY, FRUITFULLY – and every time they unite in sex, it is a renewal of those vows.