I'm a little troubled to read all of the posts on Facebook and Twitter lately from those lamenting the fact that they are really not looking forward to Valentine's Day. I know this is a difficult time for those who feel alone, but it seems to me the dread is at an all time high this year. People have written everything from hating the marketing surrounding the holiday to threats of not leaving the house on the 14th. I cannot understand why people allow a secular celebration of love to define their status. Even if you are alone, someone loves you. And I'm going to take a wild guess and say that you love somebody too. The problem lies in the fact that we've allowed February 14th to represent only romantic love. Romance is not real love. It's pretense... a facade... a mating dance similar to a peacock fanning his feathers. It's pretty to look at, but when push comes to shove it won't protect you and the feelings fade quickly.
Pope Benedict XVI's first encyclical letter was entitled, God is Love. In it, he describes three different kinds of love as defined in Greek as: eros, philia and agape. I strongly encourage everyone to read the entire letter. (Click on the title above.) It is well worth your time and effort. The simplest way to explain is Eros = erotic or physical love as between husband and wife. Philia = brotherly love as between friends and neighbors. And Agape = sacrificial love as in the love of a parent to a child.
Is it possible to have all three kinds of love? Yes, of course. A good marriage is the perfect mixture of all three. But it's important to realize that all of these are LOVE and should be celebrated every day, not just February 14th. There is so much more to love than just what the media portrays. If we open ourselves up to the experience, we can find love all around us. Sometimes we're the the ones being loved, and sometimes we're the one reaching out to others in love. This is what we should recognize, and this is what we should celebrate.