On Love

What is love? Next, to the meaning of life, that has been the most profound question asked by men since time immemorial. As I pass another milestone (birthday) I find myself ever closer to the grave, so what follows are my thoughts regarding this inevitable event.

Because this is so, it begs an important question; indeed, it proves the existence of God Himself. For God is love. And not just any god, but the Triune God of the Christian faith. For love can only exist among those three Persons, co-eternal and ever-existing. Anything short of that is a god who is only juridical, a covenant-keeper.

To be sure, God is those things as well. He is not only merciful but just as well. But always loving.

It is a profound blessing to be loved. But more especially to love. Speaking for myself, being a father has allowed me to approach (however dimly) the type of love that God has for His children. I think it’s true that the more we empty ourselves, the more we have to give. I believe that is what I am writing about here.

It shouldn’t stop there, however. It should radiate outward to others as well. If possible, to the whole world. This I believe is the essence of monasticism. Most of us are not capable of such an all-encompassing love and so the Lord, in His mercy allows us to experience this love for another person. And if it transpires within a Christian context, it can be truly wonderful.

To experience such love is a blessing beyond measure. I pray that each and every one of you will be blessed to do so. We need it, I need it, the world needs it.



  1. Greatly Saddened says

    Belated Happy Birthday and thank you so much for sharing your beautiful thoughts on love.

    May the good Lord above continue to bless you and your family, as well as the commentators and their families on this Monomakhos blog.

  2. I cannot think of one person ever on your blog that I do not love or pray for.
    Sometimes my love comes with a pinch, sometimes with a sting, but nonetheless it is love. A pinch to awaken my brothers and sisters, and at other times to ask my brothers and sisters to awaken me. God knows I deserve more of kick than pinch! Love and forgiveness in the end, is all that matter. Now and to our last breathe.

    Xronnia polla George. Happy Birthday!I love you brother.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Thank you, Dino! Someday we need to hoist a tankard of ale (or too) and figure out which one of us is the more handsome fellow!

      • Would love to put a few down with you. How bout invite Michael Stankovich to judge our beauty, thoughts, pick the songs from the jukebox, keep us away from the stoagies, and save us Greeks from starting any trouble.

        Better yet how bout a Monomakhos convention. Imagine all of us there with those corny stickers on our shirts that read, “Hi! My name is.”

        Heck arrange one of those I’ll spring for the Irish whiskey, and for Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald’s flight, sorry coach only, Bishop or not.

        • George Michalopulos says

          I’m open to all these ideas! Of course Dr S should be present at the very least.

      • M. Stankovich says

        Not to purposely point out your “too/two error,” Mr. M., but as one who is seriously dyslexic and sees that a simple missed closing “>” renders an entire paragraph in italics, the editing/proof-reading capability is sorely missed! LOVE to have it back…

  3. jimofolym says

    Khalil Gibran was certainly a Christian! A Maronite Catholic but far beyond that. I knew people in my youth who knew him personally. He still speaks today to those who read his works. I treasure his work, being married to the same nice person for 29 years.

  4. Billy Jack Sunday says

    Happy Birthday, George

    Or as you guys say

    Corny Pollock!

    • George Michalopulos says

      Heh heh heh!

      • Billy Jack Sunday says

        Yeah, it’s funny now, George

        But imagine being relatively new at an all Greek Church

        You tell a few Greeks that it’s your birthday

        And instead of well wishes

        They take you by the ear and call you a “Corny Pollock”

        Besides, I’m not even Polish. They can’t tell us apart

        Insular ethnocentric racist jerks!

        Or so I thought for a moment

  5. M. Stankovich says

    Many years to you, Mr. M. Having recently “celebrated” a birthday” as well, I appreciate the sentiment. Click your heels three times and say, “Benjamin Button…”

    There is one truth about love: it is nothing but fraudulent, empty, self-serving, vain, and manipulative unless it is reciprocal. It is one of my greatest struggles on this earth to not take this for granted, and from my knees to be thankful.

  6. Fr. David Hovik says

    Xronnia polla George and Happy Birthday! I appreciate your blog very much. I will be turning 64 in 9 days and I would like to encourage you to take the Tape Measure Test: Open the tape measure to the average age of the American Male (79 years). Then put your finger on your age and look back…then look forward. It is a pretty sobering dose of reality. May God grant you many more years.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Thank you Fr!

    • Michael Bauman says

      Father David, while our time is shorter it is not quite as statistically short as you indicate. I am in life insurance business and for a male of your age you have somewhere around 18 years on average. Almost a third of your life. If you maintain yourself you can expect a few more, God willing.

      Me, I just turned 70 and entropy is winning. I have 12-13 on average. But, a male at birth only has a life expectancy of 75 years or there about. Women still tend to outlive us although the gap is narrowing.

  7. Capable people have written quite convincingly about knowledge being the most important thing, with love coming perhaps second. It’s occurred to me however that knowledge or understanding is nothing, not even for these people, unless they love it first.

    Further, if I’m not mistaken (and someone please correct me if I am) life, in its deepest sense, is the same as love, making it possible to mean the same thing when we say that God is Life or God is Love. Now, without life/love coming first, how would it be possible to pursue knowledge?

  8. You know, a well-known and respected Zen Buddhist once wrote that the difference between Buddhism and Christianity could be gauged by comparing what he saw as the beautiful serenity of Buddha at the end of his life to that of Christ, broken, bloody and beaten, on the cross – the latter representing, for the author, an image of disgrace.

    From one perspective – namely, a criminally superficial one – it isn’t hard to see where the Buddhist was coming from; but from another, it absolutely fails to address the key weaknesses in man of arrogance and disobedience, and how Christ trampled on them all, as only God could.

    But then what more can be expected from a tradition which doesn’t seek life/love but only freedom from pain? – being, at its core, nothing other than a more complex or ‘sophisticated’ form of euthanasia. And if this needs bearing out, let’s note the parallels between Buddhism and modern society:

    Nobody in their right mind could fail to see that modernism is diseased, with one of the main symptoms of this illness being a preoccupation with comfort. Taken to its extreme (and logical) end, this preoccupation leads to suicide and/or euthanasia; and that the movement is gaining momentum is clear to see. Anything, then, which shares important similarities with modern, satanic characteristics* can only be regarded with horror, and yet this is precisely what we see happening with Buddhism.

    So much, then, for the perceived ‘beauty’ and ‘disgrace’ of this Buddhist and his friends; their eyes shut so fast** as to hold on to the tears of love belonging to the cross.

    *Although many means exist for accepting the claim that Orthodox Christianity is the one, true faith, this one can be more than useful: No other ‘system’, ‘school’ or ‘tradition’ has so little in common with modern characteristics as Orthodox Christianity. Yes, some ‘schools’ or ‘traditions’ talk of love and asceticism etc. and yet none of them – bar none – have the level of submission and dependence on grace as ours; meaning, in the end, that all of them – without exception – can find some common ground with the modern world.

    *see traditional shut eyed images of Buddha

  9. Quite right Fr George.
    Our thanks go out to you for pointing people directly to the source of our nourishment

  10. If I could take up again the tangent from above about love/life v knowledge or Orthodox Christianity v Buddhism, I’d start by changing the footnote ‘see traditional shut eyed images of Buddha’ to ‘see traditional shut eyed images of Buddha, compared to the wide-eyed portrayal of Christ etc. in Orthodox iconography’.

    Then I’d move on to discussing the difference between what Orthodoxy and Buddhism (and anything comparable to it) perceive as the root cause of man’s woe. The former has it that a lack of love/life is the problem, while the latter has taught us that it’s ignorance. Thus, an Orthodox hopes for love/life, and the Buddhist will go after knowledge, all of which recounts, all over again, the tree of life v tree of knowledge drama.

    Now, notwithstanding what was said in another post about love philosophically/theologically/or practically needing to come first (thus heaping suspicion on anything which fails to acknowledge this order), it seems a good question to ask how knowledge in itself could be an end, and thus how ignorance could be the root problem. What I’m saying is, knowledge seems always to be relative to something, with no-one ever having known knowledge alone. At most, knowledge can lead to an understanding of something, but it can never lead to knowledge of itself. What, then, is this Buddhist knowledge of?

    The Buddhist will respond by saying that it’s knowledge of nothing, and yet problems exist with this solution; for how is it possible that something should exist in order to know 1). that all is nothing 2). that nothing is real and something is illusion? In order to escape this contradiction, Buddhism would need to explain why knowledge (i.e. something/illusory/and ignorant) is able to perceive the supposed reality and enlightenment of nothing; for if nothing really was the answer, then we should imagine that the answer could never be known. And this is analogous to the nihilism of Satre etc., whereby the latter, convinced that no meaning or answers existed, provided an answer all the same. How is that possible?

    Orthodox Christianity, on the other hand, is not divided against itself in this way; that which is, is, and that which isn’t, isn’t. Basing itself on love/life, then, the Church understands well that not only are our problems created by a lack of love/life, but that love/life form a valid goal. Unlike Buddhist or nihilistic knowledge which can neither 1). know itself 2). accept that there’s something, or 3). know nothing, love/life is able to be and to know love/life, starting with that which is between the Holy Trinity.

    This for me , in terms of denying the love/life of Orthodox Christianity, highlights the two biggest tricks played by the devil: firstly, the one of teaching that the world doesn’t really exist, but is merely a painful illusion to be overcome; and secondly, that the world is all there is, with all that that implies. Whatever the case, the results of this lack of love/life are virtually the same, given the nihilists’ disguised hatred for humanity.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Stefan, to complete your analysis requires the fact of the Incarnation of God and the reality of the Theanthropos. Only though that is the suffering transformed and transfigured and death conquered in the Resurrection. They are the proof of both Life and Love. The portion of Matthew 6 that was the Gospel reading in my jurisdiction yesterday presents an even deeper revelation that touches on our conversation regarding nihilism. That is, despite the Incarnation and the victory over death, it is still possible for our entire body to become Darkness. That is exactly what Buddhism and Hinduism practice. It is exactly why Blessed Seraphim was so concerned about his prior participation in those spiritually deceptive paths. Especially when he saw how they were cleaned up and marketed to the west. Islam does much the same thing BTW.

      The Birth-Death-Resurrection of God are revealed because they are supra-rational. They are not of this world.

      Modernity is an amalgam of practically every Christian heresy ever known. But you are spot on as to the two ways that Satan attempts to deceive us. There is a third way: that God is an angry God bent on destruction and death is the only answer in any case, surely God would not save us.

      We are already dead due to our sins. Suicide is an adamant refusal of the mercy and grace and transformative power of the Incarnate God.

  11. Michael, thanks so much for your important additions

  12. G Sheppard says

    From this cowgirl in the sand, happy belated birthday, G.