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"Love is also a verb"

Dr. Claudia MacMillan, curriculum consultant and founder of the MacMillan Institute, addressed the JHCA community at Monday’s opening ceremony on the theological virtue of love. She asked students to think about love as a verb, as opposed to a noun. Dr. MacMillan used examples from The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky and a poem attributed to Fr. Pedro Aruppe, SJ, to illustrate her ideas.
Although we often think of love as a noun, or at least as something passive that happens to us, Dr. MacMillan said that it is much better in many circumstances to think of love as a verb. Love is something that we do. In The Brothers Karamazov, many people seek the advice of the wise monk, Zosima. He says that “the experience of active love” is to “strive to love your neighbor actively and indefatigably,” or without ceasing. This is the Christian idea of love that Jesus constantly preaches in the Gospels. Love is a verb or action. It is something that we choose to do, and should choose constantly.

Dr. MacMillan ended by reciting a poem often attributed to the Jesuit priest Fr. Pedro Aruppe, entitled “Fall in Love.” It explains that what we choose to love will determine all of our other choices. Here is the poem in its entirety. 

Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.
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