When a person says I love this woman, I love this man; do they wish to say the same thing as when they say they love this object?
What is my deepest desire? Do I take pleasure in the disfiguration of love that is lust, reducing the other person into an object destined to assure my personal satisfaction? Or do I wish to live a true love that is the gift of self, which puts the happiness of the other person first?
We consume an object; we do not consume a person. We give our lives to a person; we do not give our life to an object. Do I reduce the other who is there for me into an object for my personal needs?
Even when faced with the fear of being alone, we should not make the other person into an instrument to gratify our solitude but want to fulfill the other. Even in the face of the aspiration to love, we should not be in love with love but instead should love the other.
In an egocentric love, we certainly do not want true love from the other person; this carries the risk of being too demanding. We want to be able to be free, which means we wish to keep open the possibility of being with another person. When we treat a person as an object that is available whenever we wish, we can simply leave as soon as we have exhausted the satisfaction that he or she brings to us, or once we meet another person who promises more contentment.
In this perspective the couple does not become a place where one gives oneself to the other but becomes he or she who takes from each other, which means they become a place where one consumes the other. In this context, to love means to find a person who satisfies the needs of the moment. When this moment has passed, be it long or short, a separation is negotiated that we wish to be without suffering. Each one is supposed to be able to leave and search for another person that will satisfy the needs for this new step in their life.
In true love, the person does not want to manipulate the other but to serve; this is why they wish to give of themselves. In wanting to give, they wish to give everything that they are, because in its movement love always wishes to be greater, to be more absolute, and to give of itself. And because time is at our disposal, to give means also to give all his or her life.
Fidelity is more than an intrinsic part of all true love, to the point which all adolescents can say: “fidelity to the person that I wish to marry starts now, even before I know him or her.” Virginity becomes not what one asks of the other, but what we want to give the other as the expression of a radical gift of self.
Love that is a gift of self hopes to be loved in return and alludes to a union that will be rendered possible by a mutual gift and for that communion to be possible there must be a continual exchange of communication. This is why to love is to give and show oneself. To show means to unveil, to depict oneself with ones gifts and limitations, ones riches and one’s weaknesses.
To show oneself is to say gently that we are wounded. To show oneself is to effectively say what makes us fulfilled. To show oneself says to the other how much his or her love makes us live, how much the mystery of the person constantly overwhelms us.
When a couple give and show themselves to each other, they can then say in all truth not only your love for me and my love for you but they can say our love.
Is this an idyllic vision? Is it a shallow dream that has no hope of being realized? Is it a dream that was possible yesterday but is impossible today? Here we touch one of the fundamental aspects of the problem: in order to love like this, it is not sufficient to simply want to love but one must also believe in this love. A person does not give their life for a doubt; they give their life for a certainty.
Today trust such as this is attacked on every side, the heroes and heroines presented by the media seem often to find happiness in transitory love, in adventures without a future.
In society, we are faced with an increasing number of broken couples. Perhaps in our own families we are a witness to painful separations. Perhaps I myself, despite having believed in true love, find myself used and left behind, put aside because I was considered inadequate for another person.
A suspicion is then sown in our spirits and hearts. Doubt contributes to the growth of this suspicion and makes a path, bringing us little by little to the certainty that true love does not exist.
The young man does not dare to believe that he can meet a woman who will love him and give herself to him for life. The young woman does not dare believe that she can meet a man who will want to love her and give himself to her for life.
Couples who live difficult moments do not dare to believe that they can forgive and grow in their communication and mutual gift to each other.
To destroy trust is to destroy love.
To save the couple and the family, we must save true love. To save true love, we must save the faith in the possibility to love.
We must believe that man and woman are made to love each other and that they are inhabited with the capacity to give themselves to each other in love.
We must then believe that the person that I married has, deep with herself or himself, a desire to love me and the strength to surpass herself or himself.
I must believe that I have within myself all that is necessary to love the person that I married freely, totally and unreservedly.
So when social media promotes doubt, when the sentiment of love that I have experienced so intensely seems to have vanished and cannot return, when communication seems impossible; it is faith in Christ that saves everything.
We are called to see in Jesus the salvation of God. To believe in Jesus Christ and the salvation He brings, means to change our outlook about people, it means to be able to see the capacity for good that is inside them, it is to inspire works of grace that aid in the capacity to give freely which makes a person grow and be fortified.
Through faith in Christ, Christ Himself comes to save the confidence inside me that true love exists and is possible. He makes me able to believe that the other person can love me, to believe that I can love this person with an ever-growing love.
Through faith, do not be afraid to believe in love and the gift of self. Through faith, do not be afraid to throw yourself in the adventure of true love, even if that means that we do not know where we are going (uncertainty in the face of what can happen in the future on the social, political, economic, ecologic level, etc.).
Through faith, may the person who could have been dominated by egocentrism, who could have been unfaithful in different ways, turn to the mercy of Jesus Christ who pardons and renews hearts.
Through faith, may the people who are alone in their exercise of parental responsibilities know that Jesus Christ is eternally faithful, able to give the support that goes beyond anything we could imagine.
Through faith, may the adolescent undertake in trust the battle of chastity and virginity. Through faith, may the couple never become discouraged and persevere with truth in fidelity, mutual self-giving and communication.
Let us pray to the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, so that all youth and couples search for the Lord and His power, He who came to save us, Who comes to save in us the faith in love and may He render us capable of loving.
Most Rev. Christian Lepine
Born in Montreal on September 18, 1951, Most Rev. Christian Lepine was ordained a priest on September 7, 1983. He studied theology at the University of Montreal and philosophy in Rome. He began his ministry at the parishes of Saint Joseph of Mont Royal and at Notre Dame des Neiges (Our Lady of Snows), afterwards leaving to work at the Vatican from 1998 to 2000.
Upon his return to Canada, he was the director of the Major Seminary in Montreal and in 2006, he was named pastor of two parishes in Repentigny: Notre Dame des Champs (Our Lady of the Fields) and Purification de la Bienheureuse Vierge Marie (Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary). He was nominated Archbishop of Montreal on March 20, 2012. Archbishop Lepine is a champion of Bl. Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and is encouraging this teaching to his new diocese. This homily was given on January 28th, February 4th and 11th, 2007 – during which time Most Rev. Lepine was residing as pastor in Repentigny.