“What was that?” she asks. “I don’t know,” he responds.

Branches crack. Leaves rustle. Bushes shake.

“Turn around,” he says.

“Why?” his son says. “What is it?” his daughter asks. His wife stays silent.

Louder, he says, “Go, now.”

Out of the woods, a large being begins striding towards them.

“Run. Leave. Go. Now. Take the kids and get out of here. Now!”

Picking up its pace, the beast streaks towards them, opening its jaws of death and roaring its spine-tingling growl.

They run. He stays.

He fights to the death. They run for their lives. They’re saved. He sacrificed his life.

The world believes love makes you feel good. Love is whatever gives you joy. Love is happy, always. Love is a romantic story filled with nothing but smiles and candle-lit dinners. And, when the happiness disappears, so does the love. When danger presents itself, this love runs. When sacrifice is required, this love is nowhere to be found.

This is the same love that results in 50% of marriages ending in divorce. This is the same love that brings about the abortions of 73 millions babies per year. This is the same love that says, “If it doesn’t give you what you want, stop loving.”

We take this “love” and we apply it to God. We go to mass, but don’t feel happy. We pray to Him, but sparks don’t fly. We follow His laws, but joy isn’t felt. We try to love Him, but give up because we don’t feel good. For some of us, that means we’re done. We drift off and attempt to love other things. For others, we stay practicing, but we do not try to love anymore. Our faith is dry, arid, devoid of emotion, and but only a rule-following nuisance that we do just because that’s what we do.

Catholicism is love, true love.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” ~ Corinthians 13:13

Yet, do we love?

Actually, love?

Do we love Him more than ourselves?

Do we think of Him more than ourselves?

He did.

What is love?

Love is sweating blood in the Garden of Gethsemane while everyone else sleeps. Love is being tied to a rough stone and being pelted with scourges. Love is being pierced with the sharp thorns of a rose bush. Love is being nailed hands and feet to the stiff wood of the cross and being left to hang.

Love is the cross. Love is sacrifice. That’s what the cross is, the ultimate and complete definition of true love, giving up everything, keeping nothing, totally.

And that’s what Christ did for us.

That’s how he loves us.

And how our His children repaying that love? What do we do?

We sin daily. We give Him little. We barely think of Him. We do the bare minimum. We settle for just enough.

Did He settle? Did He stop at good enough?

Love is hard. Love stays consistent through the dull moments of life. It perseveres when times are hard. It sacrifices for the sake of the other. It boldly faces ridicule from others and does not relent. It stays strong in the face of real temptation. It confronts the bear head-on thinking only of protecting others. It sticks around when life is falling apart, when money is scarce, when work is overwhelming, when loved ones are dying, when it seems like there is no love.

It understands, accepts, and continues on. This the love we are called to. This is the love God demands and so badly desires from us.

“Let us love, since that’s what our hearts were made for” ~ St. Therese of Lisieux

And we can have so much more. We have the opportunity to develop a relationship above all other relationships. There is an all-perfect suitor throwing rocks at our window. God loves us more than anything else has ever been loved and is just begging for us to return it.

And what if we did? What if we dared to love God? How our lives would change! What an incredible adventure, a love story like none other. The Creator of the world loving you, personally, and you, loving Him, the All-Loving, for eternity. Both of you loving each other more than anything else. What a life! Every sacrifice, every hardship, every struggle in life could be offered with deep filial affection to the definition of perfection. We could add bouquet after bouquet daily. We could talk to Him at all times. He would be there for us in all moments.

We would have a love that never cheats, never falters, is never jealous, a love that is forever present, all-consuming, and greater than any other. We would have the utmost trust and confidence in this love.

Think of the love you have for your parents, spouse, kids, friends. Think of the joy you felt on your wedding day, the happiest memory of your parents, the feeling when you first held your new-born baby. And yet how much more is God’s love! How much more love should we have for the Creator of everything we love!

If we were to love, truly love, who knows what we could achieve for the kingdom of God. Who knows what kind of impact we could have on the world around us! Who knows how much more lively our lives would be! Infused with passion, stricken with absolute devotion, and changed beyond measure.

May we, like a faithful husband to his family, love God. May we confront the bear, face evil, attack it fearlessly, fight it to the death. May we save other souls through our efforts. May we be willing to give up everything we have, everything we are, our entire being, for God.

May we love Him above all else.

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” ~ Mark 12:30