Providing a Catholic framework on the truth and meaning of sexuality, love, and family

Understanding Real Love

Family Honor - Couple with Cross and Heart

This month, as we enter into Lent and celebrate Valentine’s Day, it’s interesting to reflect on the connection between the two.

As Catholics, we know that Lent = sacrifice and penance. We ‘give up’ something we like, as a sacrifice, or we resolve to help others more, or we give sacrificially in other ways. We do all of this because we love God. We join our sufferings to His suffering, to atone for our sins and, in many cases, to ask God for mercy for others who have committed sins.

Although celebrated in the same month this year, Valentine’s Day comes to us in another way entirely.  Advertisers push gifts of material things – jewelry, flowers, candy, special dinners for two – as a way of expressing affection for the beloved.

In real life, though, as we know, real love is more than physical demonstrations of affection or a trinket bought at the flower shop or jewelry store.

Real love is Christ-like love. And real love is actually reflected more accurately in Lent than in Valentine’s Day!

In Family Honor’s Real Love & Real Life parent-child program, one of our segments explains the five qualities of Christ-like love, which is Freely (offered), Faithful (at all times), Fruitful (in creating new life or in service to others), Fully given (holding nothing back) and Forever (without end).

We then illustrate this concept with graphics that show a heart which reflects the fullness of real love and a cross beside it, which also reflects the fullness of Christ’s love for us. Typically, we ask a mom and dad from the audience to come up and repeat their wedding vows in front of these graphics so that this message is brought home to both parents and teens alike in vivid and memorable way. (See photo on this page.)

Learning to love others with a Christ-like love is foundational to becoming a mature Christian. For young people, it is critical for them to understand this teaching in order to be able to choose wisely and enter fully into whatever vocation is chosen, whether it be marriage, the single state, or as a religious sister or priest.

Likewise, it is vital for young people and adult men and women to understand the scope of Christ’s teaching, since it impacts not only how we treat family members but any other person we encounter.

I’m currently participating in a Scripture study based on the book of James and one of the most poignant lessons in a recent session had to do with practicing Christ-like love for everyone. I encourage you to read the entire book of James – it is fairly short, really – and reflect what it says about showing no partiality in loving others (James 2:1-13).

A number of years ago, Family Honor had a T-shirt that we designed and gave out to the teens who came to every session of our Real Love & Real Life program with their parents. The message said simply: Real Love. Are You Tough Enough?

That pretty much sums things up.

If you think you might like to help Family Honor bring the message of Christ-like love, virtue formation and healthy communication to young people and their parents in your area, I’d love to hear from you! Please email me at: or call our office at 803.929.0858.

In the meantime, have a blessed Lent and a Happy Valentine’s Day, and please remember Family Honor in your prayers.


God bless!

Brenda Cerkez
Executive Director
Family Honor, Inc.