When Was the Last Time You Loved Forever

As promised.
A Valentines Homily on a Sunday
12 February 2006

When was the last time you loved forever? Pope Benedict XVI, in his encyclical letter, Deus Caritas Est (God is Love) on Christian Love, said that the heart and summary of Christian faith is expressed by St. John, “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. We have come to believe in God’s love. In these words the Christian can express the fundamental decision of his life. Being a Christian is not a result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but an encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. “God is love, he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16). And therefore, today, as we celebrate Valentines Day, we re-affirm the very essence of who we are, and what we should be: love. I only have two points from the encyclical.

Benedict XVI said, “There is a certain relationship between love and the Divine: love promises infinitely, eternity --- a reality far greater and totally other than our everyday existence.” (#5). One of the most beautiful songs about love is the theme from the television series, Beauty and the Beast. The song is:

The First Time I Loved Forever

Lyrics by Melanie Safka; Music by Lee Holdridge

The first time I loved forever

Was when you whispered my name

And I knew at once you loved me

For the me of who I am

The first time I loved forever

I cast all else aside

And I bid my heart to follow

Be there no more need to hide

And if wishes and dreams

Are merely for children

And if love's a tale for fools

I'll live the dream with you

For all my life and forever

There's a truth I'll always know

When my world divides and shatters

Your love is where I'll go

The second point comes with the poem that goes with that song. Benedict affirms that “Love is indeed ‘ecstasy’, not in the sense of a moment of intoxication, but rather as a journey, an ongoing exodus out of the closed inward-looking self towards its liberation through self-giving, and thus towards authentic self-discovery and indeed the discovery of God.” Thus anyone who loves finds God. Les Miserables, at the end of the story, tells us, that ‘to love another is the see the face of God.” The poem made famous by the song, The First Time I Loved Forever, is:

somewhere i have never traveled

e.e. cummings

somewhere i have never traveled, gladly beyond

any experience, your eyes have their silence:

in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,

or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me

though i have closed myself as fingers,

you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens

(touching skillfully, mysteriously) her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and

my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,

as when the heart of this flower imagines

the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals

the power of your intense fragility: whose texture

compels me with the color of its countries,

rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes

and opens; only something in me understands

the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)

nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands.

And with these two points, those who love promises forever, promises to journey with each other to eternity. Kaya, banal ang lahat ng ating mga pangako: isang simbulo na nagpapahiwatig na meron mas mahalaga sa ating buhay, maliban sa atin. Ito’y isang misteryong bumubuhay ng isang katotohanang may ibang taong bumubuhay sa ating puso, sa ating kaluluwa; nagbibigay kahulugan at kulay sa ating mga pangarap. At sa bawat pangako, tulad ng lahat ng sumpaan, mayroon itong sariling panahon, sariling dahilan, at sariling kahulugan, na ang nakakaalam lamang ay ang mga nag-iibigan, ang magkaibigan, ang magka-ibigan.

Kailan tayo nangangako? Nangangako tayo sa bawat panahon ng ating buhay. Ang salitang paalam, nangangahulugang may pinapahiwatig, pina-paalam: na ang pagkakaibigan ay hindi napapawi sa paghihiwalay. At ang bawat paalam ay isang pangakong hindi mamamatay ang pag-ibig kailanman.

At bakit tayo nangangako? Dahil hindi maliwanag ang kinabukasan. Kaya mahalaga ang lahat ng alaala: ang mga litratong tinatago natin habang lumilipas ang panahon. Ang mga alaala ng unang tagpuan, ang unang halik, ang unang yakap. Ang alaala ng unang pangako at ng unang sumpaan. Ang mga alaalang nagbibigay ng pag-asa. Kaya tayo nangangako: sa pangako nagkakaroon ng pag-asa ang kinabukasan. Sinasabi natin, “huwag kang mag-aalala, ako na ang bahala sa iyo.” With another’s promise, the journey to eternity becomes real and true.

Nagiging posible mangako dahil may nanguna nang nangako: “Sasamahan kita magpakailanman.” Ito ang pangako ni Hesus sa atin. Ang kanyang pag-ibig ay kasama natin sa ating paglalakbay, hanggang matagpuan natin ang magpakailanman, ang langit. Hindi ba ito ang dahilan ng pag-sisimba. Ang misa ay isang alaala, a memorial, na bumubuhay sa atin, nagbibigay pag-asa.

When was the last time you loved forever? Kailan ang huling panahon na minahal mo ang magpakailanman? Being a Christian means loving forever, every day, every moment of our lives. And thus, if God is love, then love is who we are.

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