February is a month for love. In Ontario this past weekend, we were lucky to celebrate both Valentine’s Day and Family Day – a holiday dedicated to family life and community. The value of giving and receiving love and the importance of supporting and caring for family, friends, and all members of our communities, is a central part of our faith and an integral part of a civilized society. But what does the Church say about love? And how can we work to love and respect all those in our lives? The Bishop Farrell Library & Archives has some fantastic resources to help us reflect on the significance of love.
Resources about love from the Bishop Farrell Library (with publisher notes)
Deus Caritas Est: On Christian Love, Pope Benedict XVI: In this encyclical the essential place of love in the life of the Church is explored. The first part of the discussion focuses on the distinction between the various dimensions of love and examines God’s love for us. The second part of the encyclical, focuses on the Church’s charitable work, noting how the Church can express love through acts of justice and charity.
A Civilization of Love: What Every Catholic Can Do to Transform the World, Carl Anderson: In this text, the author Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, hopes to inspire Christians to work toward creating a civilization of love, in which we are all intrinsically valuable. Anderson pushes aside religious differences in order to spread a message of hope to those who are weary of the constant turmoil of modern society. By embracing the culture of life and standing with those most marginalized and deemed “useless” or a “burden” on modern society, we can change the tone and direction of our culture. Anderson demonstrates that regardless of our differences, we can come together on the centrality of loving and caring for others. Relying on the writings of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, Anderson brings a message of inclusion and hope and provides a road map for helping Christians understand their role in the world.
Wisdom on Love, Pope Francis: Practical Advice for Families, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops: Pope Francis brings to life the path of love in families. In his daily homilies and speeches, he gives practical, everyday tips to help each person live out his or her family relationships better with humor, personal anecdotes, and wisdom from years of pastoral work. This book has solid relationship tips for all members of the family. Whether you are married, single, or engaged; a grandparent, a father or mother, or a son or daughter, you will find plenty of tips that will meet you where you are. Each tip speaks to an accompanying quote from Pope Francis.
Beautiful Mercy: Experiencing God’s Unconditional Love So We Can Share It with Others, Matthew Kelly: Giving and receiving mercy is central to living the life God calls us to. We all need mercy at different times in our lives, and we all have an obligation to give mercy to others at different times in our lives. By focusing on the seven spiritual and seven corporal works of mercy, this book inspires readers to realize that extraordinary acts of love are possible for us all—no matter where we are in life. Author Matthew Kelly has enlisted the help of twenty-six incredible authors who witness to the power of God’s mercy, provide simple, practical tips on how to be an instrument of that mercy, and bring hope to anyone searching for deeper meaning in life. Beautiful Mercy is an invitation to rediscover God’s unconditional love so you can share it with others.
The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, Gary Chapman: Between busy schedules and long days, expressing love can fall by the wayside. We forget to compliment, to give gifts “just because,” to linger in our embrace. The things that say “I love you” seem to either not get said or not get through. This is a book about saying it—and hearing it—clearly. No gimmicks. No psychoanalyzing. Just learning to express love in your spouse’s language.
The Blessing: Giving the Gift of Unconditional Love and Acceptance, John Trent, Gary Smalley: Children of every age long for the gift of the blessing of unconditional love and approval that come from a healthy relationship with their parents. This life-changing gift, essential for instilling a deep sense of self-worth and unshakable emotional well-being, contains five essential elements: meaningful touch, a spoken message, attaching high value, picturing a special future, and an active commitment. Offering solid, practical advice and a fresh perspective on making this gift a bigger part of our families, The Blessing powerfully communicates these biblically based elements as necessary to prepare children for positive future relationships, including their relationship with a loving God.
Love: A Guide for Prayer, Jacqueline Syrup Bergan, Sister Marie Schwan, C.S.J.: Hailed as a classic in the Ignation prayer tradition, this book uses the theme of love to provide an opportunity for people to grow deeper in their relationship with God through prayer. Covering 36 days over a six-week period, each day offers scriptural passages with commentary, followed by a suggested approach to prayer for that day.
Facing Forgiveness: A Catholic’s Guide to Letting Go of Anger and Welcoming Reconciliation, Loughlan Sofield, Carroll Juliano, Bishop Gregory Aymond: Out of the wealth of their shared experience, authors Sofield, Juliano, and Aymond have fashioned an inviting exploration of the process of forgiveness that blends compelling personal narrative, wise spiritual guidance, and sound practical suggestions. This simple primer is designed to encourage the first steps in the process of forgiving with over twenty-five stories of real people who found their way to forgiveness or sometimes who choose not to forgive. As readers look into the faces of the wounded people profiled in this book they recognize forgiveness is indeed possible.
The Love Dare, Stephen and Alex Kendrick: Unconditional love is eagerly promised at weddings, but rarely practiced in real life. As a result, romantic hopes are often replaced with disappointment in the home. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. The Love Dare, as featured in the popular movie Fireproof, is a 40-day challenge for husbands and wives to understand and practice unconditional love.
The DNA of Relationships, Gary and Michael Smalley: In this six-part DVD series, relationship experts Gary and Michael Smalley show how we are designed for three satisfying relationships: with others, with ourselves, and with God. It’s part of our relational DNA. When our relationships are weak, we suffer in many ways: health, addictions, and life fulfillment. Gary and Michael will show you how to control all of your own emotions, lower your stress, become a magnet for others to genuinely love you, join others on a loving team, and end angry arguments.
The Second Half of Marriage, David and Claudia Arp: The second half of marriage can be a time of incredible fulfillment, no matter what challenges you’ve previously faced. Couples can rediscover each other and build a more personal, satisfying and romantic life together. This small group DVD resource is designed to facilitate this rediscovery and rebuilding for the empty nest years. Sessions include: Getting Ready for the Second Half; Creating a Partner-focused Marriage; Using Anger and Conflict in a Creative Way; Renewing Romance and Intimacy; Growing Together Spiritually; Letting Go and Moving On; Upgrading Communication Skills; Building a Deeper Friendship; Adjusting to Aging Parents and Adult Children.