by Theresa Notare
March 29, 2002
Capture the romance! What does it mean? Walking hand-in-hand with the one you love? Candlelight and roses? Sexual attraction?
If that's what you thought, you're missing the best. I'm talking about Christian romance--a far cry from what generally passes for love and romance today. Christian romance rests on recognition, selflessness, faithfulness and "forever." Comparing Christian romance to the everyday, run-of-the-mill variety is like comparing fine dining to fast food. The real thing is ever so much more satisfying.
This is because the work of Christ has changed everything. And each of us is caught up in His love. That includes our relationships--even our romantic relationships. After all, God is the author of life and the author of romance. Who else thought to create "a suitable partner" for his creation?
Physical, social and emotional attraction between a woman and a man is a start--only a start. When you "recognize" the one you love, who loves you in return, you begin to understand Adam's exclamation: "At last, this is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh." You are aware not only of shared interests, but shared beliefs and values. You see the whole person, and like what you see. But more importantly you appreciate all that she or he is. One another's strengths and weaknesses fall into perspective. You are drawn out of yourself and direct your energies toward the other.
True Christian love is giving and offering. The other's welfare comes before your own. St. Paul tells us that this is like Christ's love for the Church--an all-encompassing and generous love. The kind that shatters the hardened boundaries of the human heart. It's a love that also implies sacrifice, and even suffering--not the "I'm going to be miserable" kind of suffering, but the "I'm going to go the extra mile for you" kind.
Christian love is generous and inclusive. A generous love is not limiting but seeks to be shared with children and others. Some would find a child pictured with a couple in a romantic setting something of an oxymoron. How sad. As a popular song says, "you know you love a woman when you can see your unborn children in her eyes." Or, as Pope John Paul II expresses it, "There is a deep connection between the mystery of creation...[and the] truth of communion between two persons." Christian love embraces family.
Christian love and romance is part of forever. It accepts the whole person, it is selfless and generous, it gives hope to the future. It is the "I know I can't get to Heaven without you" kind of love. As Scripture reminds us: "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cling to his wife, and the two shall be made into one."
Anything less is not the real thing.
Theresa Notare is the Assistant Director of the Diocesan Development Program for Natural Family Planning, Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.