Presvytera Vassi Makris Haros is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Art, Architecture & Planning and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. She is the owner, designer and photographer of V’s Cardbox, In Service and Love. a greeting card company featuring cards with an Orthodox voice. She strongly feels that experiencing the Orthodox Faith through the church’s cyclical calendar of feasts and fasts is a gift that is too often overlooked.
Love is definitely in the air. It can really be overwhelming. The jewelry commercials and the marketers suggestions on how love is best expressed are completely off target. Love isn’t expressed through expensive bobbles and revealing undergarments. That’s a whole other thing. Love is a sacred gift from God.
I recently read an interesting article on love from Andrew Estocin, on his blog Orthodox Outpost. He mentioned three Orthodox lessons about love to remember this Valentine’s Day. I found them to be a very honest and insightful way to explain the Orthodox understanding of love. He wrote:
Real Love Does Not Use – It Gives
…Real love in Orthodox Christianity is never about using people to feel good about ourselves. Men and women are not designed to use each other, but to empty themselves and give to each other. This is the foundation of healthy love and part of being created in the image and likeness of God. St. Basil the Great tells us that real love is “ …not to seek what is for your own benefit, but what is for the benefit of the one loved, both in body and in soul.”
Real Love Practices Chastity
…Chastity says that we find real freedom and real love when we give up the notion of unrestrained sexual freedom for the greater good of the one we love in an eternal commitment. For this reason, chastity says no to any sex outside of sacramental marriage as well as no to unhealthy sex in marriage because real love strives for something more beautiful than pleasure alone. St. Augustine of Hippo reminds us that “Chastity, or cleanness of heart, holds a glorious and distinguished place among the virtues, because she, alone, enables man to see God; hence Truth itself said, ‘Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.’”
Real Love Makes Us Vulnerable
Real love is never safe. It never hides the broken reality of the world. Loving people does not make us perfect, nor does it conceal our flaws. Real love makes us vulnerable and exposes our deepest weaknesses so as to transform them into something beautiful. C.S. Lewis wrote the following:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one. . . Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”
CLICK HERE to read the full article.
May the pure love of God fill you with comfort and an honest relationship with those you hold dear.
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