Sunday, January 31, 2010

To the Ends of Eternity (Or Why Love is Timeless and Time Cannot Diminish Love)

Perhaps we can set the parameters so that we know what understanding of love we are operating from, and thus we can see whether it is affected by time or it affects our perception of time. Through this exercise, I might actually propose the definition that love makes time pass (sometimes irrelevant as a whole) yet time cannot make love pass.

A definition of true love is provided via M. Scott Peck, as "not a feeling by which we are overwhelmed [but] a committed, thoughtful decision." (Th 131 Sourcebook, 42). We might be going counter to the set statements in class that "love is not a conscious choice," but perhaps we can nuance it better to arrive at a reconciliation.

We say that love is not a conscious choice because more often than not, our perception of love is that which is something beyond our plans, and something that cannot be planned. Similar to that philosophical concept of bulagang heto ako (people, please help me out who actually made this concept as I have not been studying that tradition under my philosophy classes), the presence of love is something that simply manifests itself, calls you when it deems right (even if you believe it is not because of your own plans and commitments) .

Nonetheless, love is something that does not forces itself, as mentioned by the Apostle Paul in this Sunday's gospel: "Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." Despite being a non-conscious choice when you are the one being handed the loving relationship, it becomes a committed choice once you enter it. Perhaps it is no wonder that Theology professor Roberto "Bobby" Guevara (as related to me by my seniors) would characterize it this way: "Kapag dumating ka na sa puntong ang dahilan mo e BASTA, pag-ibig na yan."

True, the acts of love (or rather, those acts that make a loving relationship truly loving for reinforcing mutual growth) is bound by time and space, but how can one say that love ends at a certain point in time (unless the object of love is already in another state [i.e. DEAD], which terminates the validity of the loving relationship already)? King Solomon has made that clear in Ecclessiastes 9: 5-6 that a loving relationship perishes in our demise. But the intensity of that feeling does not die, and it may well be love despite that.

The devotion to the memory of a deceased loving husband and continuing their vocations is applauded by Paul, and loving such an abstraction is almost similar in line to the vow of chastity that our ordained brothers and sisters have chosen. They shower their love to Christ and His body, the Church: love of an abstraction that is rendered concrete each day of loving service.

Our existence in the concrete world renders us unable to measure abstractions, as the question on the proportionalist heresy on our discussion of sin has shown. To say that time has made the loving relationship cold and almost non-existent is already the responsibility of those in the relationship: they were not vigilant to keep the embers of their relationship alive.

We can, however, confuse loving feelings for some intense emotions. UP Professor Rolando Tolentino (in his book "Sipat Kultura") and Fr. Nono Alfonso, S.J. (in the homily at the end of the Vocation Seminar I attended this Sunday) both expressed our propensity to "be unable to distinguish love from hatred." It is perhaps in those conditions that we think that love can die down, because we view love as a simple emotion, something rooted in our appetites, which it is not.

Let it not be said that love is rendered cold and dissipated by long existence. A true loving relationship renders death, and the bounds of time and space, irrelevant. The presence of love in a relationship only disappears when both parties have become unable of loving, maybe through death or mutual understanding of failure. To hold on to a love that was faithful but severed by death is possible, but nonetheless should not be indulged too much lest it stymie the growth of the person left behind.

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