know that I have a tendency to “discover” those things that are already obvious and known to all others. Nevertheless, better that I “discover” them late than not at all.
There are all sorts of details common to any love relationship—tender new love, loving marriage, a healthy family, or a healthy, loving parish. In the marriage or budding relationship, we may speak of love expressed by “special little things” done by each for the other. Such things bring a special gratitude to the moment as they convey one’s devotion and love. For example, perhaps one buys the other flowers for no particular special occasion, or opens the door for the other at every opportunity. And there are certainly counterparts to these in the family and the parish.
Yet, ultimately, enduring and genuine love is not communicated through these acts. As nice as flowers or a card may be, they can never, by themselves, convince another of unflagging devotion. Genuine love, the sort that is self-sacrificial, enduring, genuine, and rises above our own reward, is conveyed moment by moment, in our every-day interaction. The tone of voice we speak in, the look in our eyes and upon our face, the timbre of our voice in common communication, our deportment in every instance of interaction—these all communicate far more than truckloads of flowers come special delivery. If we do not communicate love at this level where we live, all the “special little things” are unconvincing. This applies to the parish community as much as the marriage. Such self-sacrificial love is uncommon.
“Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things,” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
I I I
Private notes of a priest, October 2001