The Heart of the Matter: Life and Love Are One ~ BENEATH THE SURFACE with PAUL MURANO
By: Paul Murano – Feb. 2017
Each February St. Valentine’s Day confronts us with the notion of love with hearts abounding everywhere. Have you ever wondered why the heart is the symbol of love? Let us ponder the fact that, from time immemorial, the symbol of love has been an image of the heart – the vital organ that pumps life-giving blood to keep a person alive. Why such an odd symbol? There is a mystery here beneath the surface worth exploring.
What is it about the heart that fits the notion of love? The heart itself points to both love and life. This makes sense since, ultimately, they are the same thing. At the highest level of reality Love IS Life.
Let’s first take a quick look at this Truth at the highest level. There is no distinction in God between love and life; in the divine nature they are one. As we hear in Scripture, God is described as both love and life: “God is Love” (1 Jn 4:1); and, “I am…the Life” (John 11:25; 14:6). This is who God is – He loves the world into existence and gives it life. Hence, this hidden mystery in the divine essence can be summed up thusly: love is life-giving and life is love-giving.
Further, most people can understand that life without love is not really living; however, the converse is also true, that love without life is not really loving. Ponder that. False love seeks to take pleasure without giving life, a surefire way of inflicting pain. Yet, today, we not only routinely and intentionally rupture the heart by separating life from love, we promote that separation and glorify it – creating a dearth of life-love that blinds us from the wisdom to realize it.
How? Aquinas taught that in human nature there are four basic dimensions of life that must be loved (i.e. fostered and cared for): biological life, family life, social life, and intellectual life. We separate love from biological life when we don’t take care of ourselves, gradually allowing ourselves to fall into illness or addiction. We separate love from family life by divorce and promiscuous behavior before marriage that leads to the weakening of future marriage bonds. We separate love from social life when we don’t develop our talents to better give ourselves to the community. And we separate love from intellectual life when we don’t seek truth; for one does not really live without having a love of truth.
There is one particular way that the separation of life from love permeates all the categories of human life, reverberating through individuals, families, and society with grave implications. This is the act of contraception. With its widespread use taking root in the 1970’s, American society became the first in history regularly to contracept women who were not prostitutes. In essence, that’s what we have become: a society that exchanges sex for affection to the detriment of life, marriage, and the family.
In case you think this sounds too dramatic, let us look at some of the consequences of widespread contraception use and how its rupture of love affects the four dimensions of life. With biological and family life, it has whittled the average American family from around six children to 1.4. The unnatural attempt at seizing personal pleasure while thwarting natural purpose takes its toll on marriage. Additionally, contraception opened up a bigamous culture of temporary serial “relationships,” inevitably causing heartbreak, cynicism, countless STD’s, the killing of hope, and the killing of every third preborn child through abortion. The latter is a clear illustration of separating love from life. The de-linking of sex from babies (love from life) has created a mentality that rationalizes perverted behaviors such as homosexual acts and has inaugurated a pornography culture where untold people suffer from silent addiction.
Social life has also suffered greatly as evident in countries now begging couples to have more children because of massive depopulation crises. Illegal immigration has been seen as one quick fix to fill the void, while social security and elderly care will soon see drastic ‘reform’ due to not having enough young workers to subsidize them. And finally, intellectual life: How does contraception affect the mind? This is something wisdom sees but science cannot. Nothing blinds the intellect more than sexual sin and obsession. It stagnates the mind and its natural curiosity and keeps it from soaring to new heights, chaining it to the ground by the passions.
Therefore, the heart, the source of life, is the symbol of love for profound reasons. In human nature, love and life are intrinsically linked as one, a oneness that cannot be separated without deleterious widespread ramifications. By its very nature, love is life-giving and life is love-giving. This is the most important truth lost to modern man.