In her book, Real Love, author Mary Beth Bonacci notes that there are two distinctly different definitions for the word, love; there is pizza love and real love. Pizza love says, “You exist for me.” Real love, however, says just the opposite, “I exist for you.” And there is the difference.
Regarding real love, St. Paul, in his Letter to the Philippians, asserts that, at its core, love requires kenosis; that is, an emptying of ourselves on behalf of others.
“Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” (2:7-8)
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1823) clarifies this: “…By loving his own to the end, he [Jesus] makes manifest the Father’s love which he receives. By loving one another, the disciples imitate the love of Jesus which they themselves receive.” To put this another way, our loving Creator has loved each of us (His beloved) into existence so that we might enter and experience His eternal reality of love and loving! To recall those beautiful words from the First Letter of John: “We love because he first loved us.” (4:19)
In our daily lives, is it easy to separate pizza love from real love? I believe the answer is—yes! It is true that each of us have experiences of both. We saints-in-training can recount times in our lives when we have “used” others as a means of achieving our ends. Despite our failings, real love (God’s love) always prevails and comes to visit. Through the promptings of the Holy Spirit, may we come to see these God-given moments in our lives by opening our hearts to them; for daily, God presents them fresh and anew within our circle of family and friends.
Indeed, real love changes us in ways unimaginable. In fact, the entire meaning for our lives is transformed. Others see this change in us, as well. In her book, Words to Love By, Saint Teresa of Calcutta reflects upon this:
“Just allow people to see Jesus in you: to see how you pray; to see how you lead pure life; to see how you deal with your family; to see how much peace there is in your family. Then you can look straight into their eyes and say—‘This is the way.’ You speak from life. You speak from experience.”