Last night I was able to talk with an old friend who I hadn't seen in a while. He and his wife have been struggling with faith issues and, being newlyweds, are also trying to figure out what marriage is all about.
One thing I shared with him was something brought up at the retreat. I forgot to mention it before.
Fr. Theodore used the phrase, "intentionality does not mean insincerity." In other words, doing loving actions without already having the corresponding feelings is not hypocrisy; in fact it is what love is really all about (at least for us fallen humans, and especially for Christians).
So many in our culture have romanticized "love" and turned it into "feelings" or "lust"....the idea of love as an action has been mostly lost on our generation. What Fr. Theodore pointed out, was that in marriage actually DOING love is more important than FEELING love. Now, of course, feelings may be there from the start. And, usually, doing loving actions produces loving feelings naturally. But some days it doesn't. And that is where the virtues of patience, courage, and perseverance step in.
I've only been married for 14 months. (ah, the youthful joy of still counting it by months rather than years!) But I have already seen the fruits of understanding love as an action, first and foremost. Like so many things in the Christian life, you have to actually practice the faith and not just talk about it (see the whole book of James!).