Writtten by Roger Carr-Jones MFL Coordinator
“Will you marry me” is perhaps the best way of celebrating St Valentine’s Day as it is not until we share those words that we truly understand the depth of our love for each other and what authentic love requires.
In Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) Pope Francis reminds us that the journey of love in marriage is an apprenticeship (AL.136,232,284), a journey that is taken each day as a couple and one that is sustained by God’s Love. Journeys require an element of preparation before stepping out into the adventure and a willingness to adapt to changing circumstances along the way. Perhaps we have vivid memories of a journey, or just a walk where unexpected obstacles occurred, where we had to revise the route and in doing so discovered another new yet exciting path? Marriage is not unlike a journey as it involves preparation, discernment, commitment and the need for adaptability. It is a great adventure. Taking the first step requires courage and trust.
Perhaps we can recall when we first met the person that we love, just how eager we were to learn more about them and gradually to learn more about their inner landscape? Dating has its own specific landscape, yet there comes a point when we need to decide, as a couple, whether we are seeking to cultivate a shared landscape through the commitment of marriage.
Being-in-love is a lovely feeling. Yet it differs from the intensity of a love founded on the commitment in marriage, where we learn to love each other afresh in a shared journey. That first encounter, dating and complementarity is part of the journey into love, but not its end point. God has a beautiful plan for each of us: “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—says the LORD—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope” (Jerimiah 29:11). For many that plan is the vocation of marriage and realising this can be a moment of profound life-long change.
When the desire to visit a far-flung place comes it requires making a decision. It forces us to think about whether this is the place we wish to travel to, or whether the itinerary is based on illusions and dreams. Similarly, when dating there is a moment when we need to discern whether our relationship is leading to marriage, to a life-long commitment and a new way of being.
If we choose this St Valentine’s Day we can reflect on the true nature and source of love, God. Love is not a commodity, or a fleeting moment, it is a time when two “I”s need to discover the call to be “we”.
Why not take the opportunity this St Valentine’s Day to think a little bit more deeply about the real nature of love? Love as God intended has a long-lasting character and remains after the fire of first-love gives way to the deeper love that marriage runs on.
If not, we might find that we have spent our life dreaming about where we might wish to go, yet fail to take that first step. The same applies to the vocation of marriage, a vocation to love. We might be comfortable living with the illusion, but later we may well find that we have missed the joy and excitement of the real thing. Falling in love is perfectly natural as we are created out of love by God and therefore made for love.