By: Pablo A. Proaño
I was caught by the article “What is true love?” by Pamela Godoy, and agreed completely that true love has to be free, full, faithful and fruitful. Nevertheless I asked myself: how can we reach the source of these conclusions? How can we recognize that true love has the elements given by the author? What if someone neither reads the Bible nor practice christian values? Would he/she reach to the same conclusions? Therefore, it is interesting to consider if there is something universal about love.
Based on Aristotle’s philosophy of ethics reflected in his book “Ethics to Nicomachus” I would like to lead the readers to some reflections regarding these topics, so that we can ask ourselves if the Tradition of the Catholic Church approaches the mystery of divine love acknowledging before a human understanding of love.
I would like to approach the search for a meaning of life as a pursuit and as a discovery in reality and everyday experiences, rather than trying to fit our experiences to an answer ‘by the book’. Aristotle writes: “the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim.” So, if we lead our lives after something, a career, personal growth, to establish a relationship, etc. we seek something we consider good, even if it’s only an illusion of good.
It is part of our experience that love is one of the goods we seek during our lives. So we can ask ourselves, why is love good in our lives? What kind of fullness do we experience or expect to experience by loving that exceeds the fullness of other goods, like being healthy, finishing a task, or reaching a goal?
After we have acknowledged the desire we have for love, it’s important to recognize that there are different types of love. Analogically, we say that we love food, we love our pets, but we also love our friends, a partner, and even God. We use the same concept in order to express different levels of attraction.
Each attraction’s object reveals the kind of love we express for each one. If we love a pet or a chocolate, the good after we are attracted is a sensible good, therefore we speak of a sensible love. If we love the idea of a beautiful honeymoon with the person we love, which as an idea is an intentional good, we may be speaking of an imaginative love, a romantic love. But there is also a love for a spiritual good, a love for a person for the sake of him or herself, not for a sensible or emotional benefit. A love borned after the encounter of the deepest part of a person, may spark in us a spiritual love.
We might experience all types of love, even at the same time, since we as humans have such a complex composition of spiritual, mental and physical attributes. That is why it’s important to recognize the different levels of love, to become lucid on what type of love I am offering to my beloved ones. It also might be important to acknowledge, for the next part of this article, that spiritual love is the only type of love that can become fully a true love, a love that is free, full, faithful and fruitful.