Professor examines different types of love
Stephanie Snyder | Thursday, April 9, 2015
Tim O’Malley discussed the meaning of love in a talk at Saint Mary’s on Wednesday night hosted by the Christ’s Light group. O’Malley is the director of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy and assistant professional specialist in the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame.
Christ’s Light is a Catholic faith sharing group that was recently formed this year at Saint Mary’s that has speakers who come to lecture about theology and other aspects of faith. Junior Sofia Piecuch had invited O’Malley to give a talk for Christ’s Light after hearing him speak at Four:7, Notre Dame’s Catholic faith sharing group.
Piecuch said the goal of the group is to help each other grow.
O’Malley simplified what he described as a complicated topic of love into four different aspects. The first aspect he described as ‘pagan’ love. He defined ‘pagan’ love as basic human love; the typical idea of love that people tend to hold on to.
He said that this is the love based on sexual attraction for another.
“Sexual attraction is itself a part of love,” O’Malley said. “That form of love is real too, and whatever Christian love is, it cannot deny this form of love.
“One of the great things about being in love is having another person there to share your life with. It’s natural. It’s good. And you don’t want it to end.”
O’Malley used a section of John Donne’s Holy Sonnets to explain the power of eros, which is physical love.
“This natural desire for eros can be lifted up into divine light [through Donne’s poem],” O’Malley said. “Eros is the love that really hurts. This is the love that can destroy, this is the love that can be violent.”
He said how he discourages the typical human view of love.
“Love isn’t just feeling, affections or desires,” O’Malley said.”The first thing we imagine love to be is this huge wave of affections and desires, but that’s not it.”
He explained that the love you have for your parents does not include the wave of affections and desire when you see them; but you still love them. O’Malley explained that this is the kind of love we strive for with one another; it is similar to the love between two friends.
“Friendship is a basic form of love; you enjoy each other’s company,” O’Malley said. “Some part of life is made beautiful by that friendship.”
He said that loving someone is giving a part of yourself away; this is the second aspect of love.
“To love a person is to say, ‘I am yours;’ especially in friendship,” O’Malley said. “Friendship is real love. It’s difficult.”
O’Malley discussed how Christ is the ultimate example of giving oneself away in love. His love was so deep that he faced one of the biggest human fears, death, to save us. Christ’s love is the third aspect of love.”
The fourth aspect O’Malley spoke of was the love of God and neighbor.
“Love of God and neighbor is the redemption, the salvation of the human being in the created order,” O’Malley said.
He talked about this salvation particularly through his perspective on marriage and said that married love is a choice, not a feeling.
“Love is a choice,” he said. “I could’ve fallen in love with a million different women; I still could. My wife is not my ‘soulmate’, I fell in love with her.
“Through the love of marriage, I am being saved. No, not just saved, I am being made and remade into the image of God,”