Who am I?
One who loves
Author: P. Walter Schu, LC | Source: http://www.regnumchristi.org/In-forme magazine 53
One who loves
Who am I?
How can we reveal the mystery of our own identity, the meaning and end of our existence in these brief and fleeting years of life on earth?
By: P. Walter Schu, LC | Source: http://www.regnumchristi.org/In-forme magazine 53
The entire drama of humanity could indeed be reduced to one single question: "Who am I?" The answer to this question is rather extensive. How can we reveal the mystery of our own identity, the meaning and goal of our existence in these brief and fleeting years of life on earth?
St. John Paul II responds with words that will resonate over time: "man cannot live without love. He remains for himself an incomprehensible being, his life is deprived of meaning if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and makes it his own, if he does not participate in it vividly. "
The pursuit of love is what continually encourages us throughout our lives. St. John Paul II strongly affirms: "Love is, therefore, the fundamental and inborn vocation of every human being." Pope Benedict XVI reiterates this fundamental truth: "Human nature, in its deepest essence, is to love. In short, every human being is entrusted with a single task: learning to love, loving in a sincere, authentic and gratuitous way».
In light of this answer to the most basic of the questions, "who am I?" immediately follows a second question: what is love? If the key to our very existence is to love — that is, to find, to experience and to make love ours — we surely need to discover the essence, the inner core of love. Would it not be the greatest tragedy to reach the end of life, thinking that we have spent our time loving, to fall to the end in the account that we have only given life for a chimera of authentic love?
So, what is love? What is this mysterious reality, "the main energy that moves the human soul"?
There is a form of love in this earthly life that is the princeps analogatum for all other forms of love. This first reference allows us to glimpse the depths of love, the hidden truth of love, the transcendent vastness of love. It is precisely the love between man and woman, between husband and wife. There is no doubt that it is so because God himself begins the Holy Scripture with the love of our first parents in the book of Genesis and concludes it in the book of Revelation with the wedding of the Lamb.
But the question does not end here. Does the love between a man and a woman consist of the flame of natural and sexual attraction that is so easily ignited? Have we found the true core of love? This natural attraction establishes one of the bases for the relationship of love, but it is so focused on the sexual interest and it is so fleeting that it is not enough to found love in its deepest essence.
On a higher level of the human person, we find love as an emotion. Sentimental love, the experience of falling in love, has been one of the literary themes since the indelible memory of written language exists. And yet this noble sentiment – in which man presents himself as a knight clad in the brilliance of his armor and woman like a lady in danger, waiting to be rescued – is not the intimate nucleus of love. Once again, emotions are so transient for them to sustain love, which, if authentic, tends to be prolonged for life.
There is also a danger camouflaged in sentimental love. The person is at risk of falling in love with a romantic and idealized vision of his beloved, instead of falling in love with the real person, with all his qualities, weaknesses and stumbles. When the bubble of romance that hides the reality of the other person bursts, as often occurs, frustration or even hatred can be sifted.
So where should we go to find authentic love between a man and a woman? We must lift our eyes to the top: towards the horizon of the person as a spiritual being, endowed with intelligence and will. Only from this horizon is it possible to truly love and authenticity. Why? because: "What is essential in love is the affirmation of the value of the person; based on this statement, the will of the subject he loves tends to the true good of the loved one, to his integral and absolute good that is identified with happiness. "
This is where we find the true core of love. Authentic love is not so much in receiving from the beloved, but in giving the person that we love. Love in its most endearing essence is a gift. St. John Paul II emphatically affirms it in his theology of the body:
It can be said that created by love, that is, endowed in his being of masculinity and femininity, both are "naked" [our first parents] because they are free with the same freedom of the gift. This freedom is precisely at the base of the marital meaning of the body. The human body, with their sex and masculinity and femininity, contemplated in the very mystery of creation, is not only a source of fecundity and procreation, as in the whole natural order, but it contains from the "beginning" the "spousal" attribute, i.e., the ability to express love: precisely that love in which man-person becomes gift and — through this gift — realizes the very meaning of his being and existence.
Therefore, if love is the gift of all our person, body and spirit, how do we grow in the ability to "exercise" that gift with greater freedom, which results in greater joy? There are two ways. The first is to live the virtue of chastity. Because we cannot give what is not ours, and it is precisely through the chastity that we possess ourselves in order to give us as a gift in love. And the second is willing to suffer. The total delivery of ourselves to another is always expensive when no rewards are sought.
In Salvifici Doloris St. John Paul II sings a hymn to the transformative power of human suffering in our lives:
Through the centuries and generations, it has been found that in the suffering a particular force is hidden that brings man closer to Christ, a special grace. To this grace, many saints owe their deep conversion, for example, Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, etc. The fruit of this conversion is not only the fact that man discovers the saving sense of suffering but above all that in suffering becomes a completely new man. It is a new dimension of his whole life and his vocation.
The self-emptying of Christ in his Incarnation is the supreme example of a complete and radical surrender of himself, who can become a gift of us in love.