Once, love was too heavy a word to be uttered casually at random people and objects. Once, love was the object of contemplation by the wisest and keenest philosophers. Once, the subject of love was tread upon very carefully lest it would catch fire.
Nowadays the word and the concept of love have been reduced dramatically to mean a silly, fleeting feeling of infatuation that produces nothing more than giggling girls and expensive boxes of Valentine’s Day chocolate.
Yet the true Christian love is not so trivial. It is really rather frightening.
Love is the power that created the universe, the world, you and me. Love is the strength that encouraged the ancient patriarchs and prophets to proclaim the truth; it is the shield that preserved a Jewish girl from sin and thus made her the enemy of Satan. Love is the unfathomable mystery of the Lord’s Passion, Crucifixion, and Resurrection; and love is the terrible final chastisement that will befall Satan and his angels and that will renew heaven and earth.
Love is also the beautiful ideal that pours forth those ugly, boring, stiff, orthodox laws and doctrines of the Church. Love chains souls close to her so that they may not fall over the tall cliff. And it is love too that gives birth to the dark chamber of confession, the Sacrament of Penance. Love is stern in truth and merciful in forgiving. If only my soul isn’t so pained by the infernal darkness of my own sins as to embrace the uterine darkness of the confessional!
If we were able to perceive love as it is, we would die immediately. Man cannot contain the fullness of Love while he’s on earth. The love he encounters in his life is but a dim reflection of that Original Love, a thousand times more brilliant and a thousand times more overpowering.
The most terrifying character of love, though, lies not in its stubborn faithfulness or its piercing radiance, but in its transforming power. When we love, we risk ourselves being transformed, changed, by the one who is now integral to our being, identity, and existence. When we love, we empty ourselves and take on the identity of the beloved. In essence, by loving we become the beloved.
By loving we dare to die to our old selves and resurrect in a new birth, a new self. God became man out of love, and died out of love, and out of this given love we now strive to live for Him and die for Him, so we may be perfect just as He is perfect.
And there is a point of no return in this: a point where, losing the beloved will not mean returning to the state before the union, just like the husband without the wife is not a bachelor, but a widower. Likewise, I can give many intellectual reasons why I stay Christian, just like I can enumerate some favourite traits of the person I love, but here’s the terrifying truth: I stay Christian because love has transplanted me into Christ and Christ into me. If I cease believing, I cease existing, for there is no me without Christ anymore.