Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love (Sri, 2007)In 2010 I purchased Dr. Edward Sri's book subtitled, Practical Insights from John Paul II's Love and Responsibility. I was intrigued by the book after listening to Dr. Sri speak about it during an interview on Catholic Answers Live with host Patrick Coffin. What intrigued me specifically was the availability within the book for me to grow in understanding [and therefore in ability of explanation] of what love is.
But You are Married and Have A Daughter... Don't You Already KNOW what Love is?
Interestingly enough ~ this is the point that my wife made as well. There were many instances when I would find the book mysteriously replaced on the bookshelf rather than on the coffee table where I had left it after completing a section or chapter. My wife's concern was that she perceived the text as informational on what a marriage should be ~ and why would her happily married husband be reading it?
Two Thoughts on this:
1. I Have a Daughter:
In today's secular society that has succumbed to a tyranny of relativism and the belief that, "if it feels good, it must be good [and right] for me to do" that has lead to an almost entire termination of understanding of what constitutes modesty & chastity, and knowledge on why both are virtuous, I fear for my daughter. Dr. Sri's (2007) text provided an avenue from which to engage my daughter in teaching her about the dynamics that exist between a man and woman. This text provided a solid background from which to begin teaching her about the virtues of friendship and love, and the role that modesty and chastity play in the protection of the dignity of human beings.
2. Knowledge of Love [as it relates to the longing for truth]:
If one were to Google search the phrase /greatest commandment/ inevitably some version or take on Mathew 22:34-40 or Mark 12:28-34 would generate an overwhelming list of results. These New Testament versus echo the immensely powerful verses from the book of Deuteronomy 6:4-8:
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord;[a] 5 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. 6 And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; 7 and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
With love identified as the greatest commandment from which we are to engage in ~ as taught by our Father, I believe it prudent to learn as much about it as possible. Hence, in my search for truth and with the goal of transition from consideration to action, where better to start than with love; And who better to benefit from my inquiry than my wife and daughter.
What I Learned
The truth of what love is, is typically disoriented as the result of two phenomena: Confusion regarding types [or levels] of friendship, and the Effects of Concupiscence (lust). One introduces ideas of people being BFFs (Best Friends Forever), dating, and romance. The other confuses attraction with the idea of "love at first sight," lust, and the objectification of human beings for personal gratification. To assist in navigating through this maze of disorientation, Dr. Sri's (2007) text recapitulated Aristotle's posit regarding the three types of friendship: Friendship of Utility, Pleasant Friendship, and Virtuous Friendship.
What I Learned
- Friendship of Utility:
Affection is based on the benefit or use the friends derive from the relationship. Each person gets something out of the friendship that is to his/her advantage, and the mutual benefit of the relationship is what unites the two people.
- Pleasant Friendship:
The basis of affection is the pleasure that one gets out of the relationship. One sees the friend as a cause of some pleasure for himself/herself
- Virtuous Friendship:
The basis of affection is based not on the pursuit of self interest, rather it is on the pursuit of a common goal - the moral life found in a virtueI have already found these definitions to be instrumental in discussion with my daughter - as she recently asked me if I knew why she loved 'me and mom.' I was able to answer with confidence that I did in fact know why she loved 'me and mom' and shared with her why her mother and I love her.
[Of course at 5 yrs. old she insisted that she loved us because we had family movie night and pulled the queen mattress out of our guest room, laid it on the family room floor in front of roaring fire, and 'nuggled' with snacks as we watched the movie]
There is an abundance of information to be found in Dr. Sri's (2007) text - and I do not mean for this to be a book review [as at times the book seems to read like an ongoing college lecture]. However, having read it I have grown in my understanding of what love is, of why we need to uphold the dignity of human beings, and how chastity and modesty coordinates with both. Further, I have been able to incorporate these understandings through discussion and in action with my wife and daughter.
Sri, E. (2007). Men, women, and the mystery of love: Practical insights from John Paul II's Love and Responsibility. Cincinnati, OH:Servant Books