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Love is...

Blue Lovers, Marc Chagall, 1914
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous 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. (1Cor 13: 4-7)

I know you have heard this. It is a favorite for weddings. Yet as beautiful as this description of love is, it is incomplete. When you are patient and kind and all the rest, it is not because you are “in love” but because you choose to love. You choose to be patient and kind when you don’t feel like being patient and kind. You hold your temper in check when you want to explode. You bite your tongue when you have the perfect snarky little barb that is oh so clever but also oh so hurtful.

And sometimes it is not your beloved who is the object of your patience and kindness. Because you choose to love, you will be patient and kind and forbearing to his or her mother, father, brother, sister, or best friend even though they drive you crazy.

When you choose to love, you love both body and soul. You want your beloved to be healthy both physically and spiritually. If someone you love has a drinking problem, you do not invite them out for a pub crawl. You do not give them wine and whiskey as gifts. You enjoy a glass of lemonade with no resentment that you are missing out on your favorite cocktail. If your sweetheart wants to lose weight, you do not shower them with chocolates and cupcakes. You enjoy healthy foods with them and look for exercises you can do together. You do not start out asking them to run a marathon with you. You invite them for a walk around the neighborhood. In time, that walk may turn into a hike or a run, but you are patient because you have chosen to love.

Similarly, if your beloved is lagging in the will to get to Mass on Sundays or to engage in prayer, you are doing no favors if you stand idly by and are indifferent to such spiritual sloth. You smile and offer the spark that gets you both up and moving for Mass. You ask for something small like praying before meals or saying a Hail Mary with you for a special intention. Because you love, you are rejoicing in the truth and sharing that truth with them. Sometimes sharing the truth feels awkward and unnatural. But if you have chosen to love, you will seek and share the truth, even when it is not easy to do so. True love overcomes embarrassment, fear, envy, self-centeredness, and all your other foibles. Because when you have chosen to love, you can endure all things.

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