Valentine’s Day comes and goes but love is an everyday part of our lives. It takes many shapes depending on the relationships that we share with others. In English we use the blanket term “love”, but every relationship is different. This February, recognize and spread the love in these different ways:

  1. Affection for Family

Family bonds run deep, and they are the first types of relationships individuals have. It is a natural love that develops between the parents and their child and then grows into the wider family dynamic. Siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles all share this most basic of loves reflected in feelings of belonging, security and duty. This love is also the source of our sense of community and culture.

Action: Send an affectionate message to a family member, or visit the burial place of a grandparent or parent and offer a prayer of gratitude.

  1. Friendship

It is often said the friends are the family you choose. We tend to gravitate towards people who share our interests, attitudes and values. Strong friendships endure through difficulties and disagreements and indicate emotional well-being. It is good and natural to have many friendships and for them to vary in closeness.

Action: Contact a friend and tell him or her one of your favorite memories together.

  1. Romantic Love

Romantic love begins as an attraction to another person. When this attraction grows and becomes mutual it is the basis for a romantic relationship. These relationships call for self-sacrifice and compromise which becomes the joy of shared life together. They are marked by exclusivity and a sense of enduring love, hence the marriage vows are made “’til death do us part.”

Action: Let go of any bitterness related to sacrifices made and reflect on the joys of your relationship, or, look through photos of your relationship throughout the years.

  1. Unconditional Love

This is the highest kind of love, called “agape” in Greek. It is a love that is completely free of selfishness, always desiring the good of the beloved. Affection, friendship, and romantic love find their fulfillment in unconditional love. Yet we are called by Christ to love more than just our family, friends, and spouse. We are called to imitate God who loves each person unconditionally and always works towards his or her good.

Action: Ask yourself if there is anyone in your life whom you love unconditionally, and if there is, tell that person, or, respond with love to someone who seems frustrating or hurtful to you.