Love has two dimensions: the mind (knowledge and logic) and the heart (emotion and feeling). Remember when you were in Third Grade, and everyone exchanged Valentine’s Day cards? What did you do when you went home that day? Did you put them in a special spot in your drawer where you could pull them out and look at them frequently? Did you think of the person who gave you the card with affection? Did you feel a sense of warmth and pleasure? Love is one of the ways humans are different from other living things. It is a form of communication between two persons, heart, heart, thinking of others, wanting to help others. It can be with two humans or groups of humans. It can be between single persons, homosexuals, heterosexuals, groups of people, with families and relatives. Love is a human phenomenon. Love does not exist between animals or between animals and humans, although we can love our pets. Animals can’t love back, but they do have affection. So, what is this love? It is one of the thresholds through which all of us must pass.

Mature love is so much more than a Valentine’s Day card. Here are Eric Fromm’s five criteria for authentic loving with some thoughts about both dimensions of the head and the heart.

Fromm says, “immature love says: ‘I love you because I need you.’ Mature love says ‘I need you because I love you.'”
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  • Love is thinking of the one you love all the time.
  • Love is anticipating the one you love and seeking to help them in whatever way that can make them better.
  • Love is having their picture on your desk and in your heart


  • Love is wanting to know as much as you can about your love.
  • Love is wanting the one you love to know as much about you as possible.


  • Love is patient with the one you love as they explore life.
  • Love is forgiving others and realizing that you are not perfect.


  • Love knows that your loved one likes A-1 sauce on their steak, and you make sure you buy it at the store.
  • Love is learning the art of receiving from your loved ones, allowing them to love you in return.


  • Respect is wanting your love to succeed and do what it takes to ensure they meet their goals in life.
  • Love is taking the time to tame your other, waiting for them to grow and mature.

It is the realization that in God speaking to you, you delude yourself into thinking you speak for God. If you say you love someone but don’t do anything to show it, there may not be love there but just your representation of what it means in your own mind. Similarly, if you receive Faith from God but hide it under a bushel basket and don’t do anything with it, there may not be Faith there but just your representation that you have made yourself into God.

A LAY CISTERCIAN AND LOVE: There are no answers needed

  • My wife asks me repeatedly, why would you go to Conyers, Georgia, to the Monastery to pray on Gathering Day every month when you can pray in Tallahassee? I can’t answer that in a two-universe reality (physical and mental). There is no answer other than love. When I say “love” here, it is not the “love” that the world knows. The ” love ” says, “We only know love because Christ has loved us first.”
  • Love in two universes is good, but it may or may not get you to Heaven. Love in two universes (physical and mental) is helping others and finding meaning for all the reasons listed above. Love in three universes (physical, mental and spiritual) is all the reasons listed by Eric Fromm, but we are conscious that we must always love others as Christ loved us. Christ is the multiplier effect, why we have reason, why love is the purpose of all life.
  • When some look at monks and nuns who leave the World to embrace love in a lifetime of contemplation in silence and solitude, they think of a waste of humanity. It makes perfect sense for those who center themselves in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5).
  • When married couples grow together physically, mentally, and spiritually, love means more than just the union of two spirits. It is the fulfillment of human nature in each person.
  • Marriage helps me grow in Christ.
  • Marriage is not the purpose of life; the purpose of marriage is life.
  • Jesus tells us that there is no marriage or giving in marriage in heaven, but there is Love. In fact, Love is all there is.
  • Love is a mystery to me that unfolds as I grow in the capacity to become more like Christ, who told us to love others as He loved us. I don’t know what love is in this sense, but I have a good idea of what it is not.

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