What is Love?

11 Dec

What is love? Specifically, what does it mean for one person to love another? The movie Love (a project of the band Angels and Airwaves, recently released in DVD and iTunes) emphasizes the importance of contact between individuals and the basic human need for communion with others. This basic need raises the question: How do we achieve this communion with others and what does this communion look like?

Love is the fundamental principle of the universe, and it is fair to say that even the smallest particle to the greatest star is guided by its own kind of love. The electron loves the proton; the heavy bodies in the heavens are drawn to one another in an orbital dance by the power of love (aka gravity). So also, we humans find our purpose and destiny in love. The difference between us and the subatomic particles or the planets is that they “love” in a basic and physical way only, while human love encompasses our intellect and free will. Moreover, persons can love other persons, and not merely be drawn to other objects by the force of gravity.

They say that love wills the good of the beloved, but a more basic aspect of love is that it is a unifying power. Love causes the lover to seek union with the beloved, as well as the good of the beloved. This goes for every love, not merely romantic or marital love. Love between any two or more persons, man or woman, works the same way in this regard. Not all love needs to be the romantic or spousal kind for it to be real and deep. They used to call it friendship. Maybe some still do.

The union that two lovers seek is much deeper than merely physical proximity or shared activity—it is complete interior union of the heart: personal core to personal core. How is it then that the lover can enter into the most intimate recesses of the beloved’s heart? How can lover and beloved fully dwell within the other in unending enjoyment?

Love itself makes lover and beloved (regardless of what kind of love) abide in one another’s hearts in a mysterious way. That union becomes more perfect as love is perfected, but the experience of love points to something more than can be had completely in this life. Since God is pure love itself, the more one is in union with God – the more one is filled with the divinity – the more one grows in communion with others. This adventure of love culminates in a complete union possible only if we move beyond our current condition. This perfect union of lovers is known by Catholics as the ‘Communion of Saints’, and the place of unending union of lover and beloved in perfect ecstasy is also known as ‘Heaven’.

– Cameron Thompson

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