Orthodox Byzantine Chants
Holy Mount Athos
Love begins when there’s a man in front of me and I see his depths, his essence. Of course when I say `I see` this doesn’t mean `I fathom with my mind` or `see with my eyes` only I deepen that with my entire being. If we could make a comparison we could say in the same way that I deepen for instance the beauty of music, of nature, of a work of art, when I stand before it amazed, mute, not doing anything else but perceiving what is there, without being able to express this in other words than: God! How wonderful it is!`
The mystery of love for man begins when we look at him without any desire to possess him, without the desire to control or dominate him, without any desire to use his gifts or personality only to look at him and be amazed of the beauty that’s revealing to us.
When I am face to face with a man I see with the eyes of love, not with the eyes of indifference or hate, only with the eyes of love, then I commune with him, between us begins something common, a common life.
The perception of man takes place at a depth that’s beyond words, beyond emotions. A believer would say: When I see the man in this light, in the light of pure love, I see in him the image of God, an icon.
Once a man saw another one not only with his eyes, but also with a certain insight of the heart and mind. And that man who was one from the crowd becomes unique. He appears then with a new beauty, a new profoundness, a new significance.
A vision like this may last for years even for a lifetime. But sometimes, after time passes, the vision fades away (as it happens with the sun that vanishes from the window and the brightness of the house fades)
And then in that moment faith comes on the stage – here’s in what meaning: faith as confidence that what was seen once and now it became invisible is still there without any doubt. We all live by this faith more or less.
Talking about marriage, about the relationships between husband and wife I said that beside love, meaning the tender passionate smooth attraction a man feels for another, these relationships also need faith.
At the beginning of the engagement service we pray that God may send to those who are ready to wed not only a perfect mutual love, peace and His help but also a communion of thought and a strong faith.
One of the holy fathers of the Church said that the world cannot exist without mysteries, meaning that certain conditions, certain relationships between people would be supernatural, heavenly, splendid; and the same elder goes on saying that marriage as an union of two people in a disunited world represents such a mystery, of wonder that overshadows all the natural relationships between men, all the natural conditions.
How often it happens to the one who loves to hear : `What did you find at him /her? And that person gives the absolutely hallucinating answer: `Don’t you see how wonderful she/he is?` And it turns out that is true, that person is wonderful because anyone who is in love sees the beauty and who doesn’t love is indifferent or hates, seeing only the flaws. We should not forget this thing. It is extremely important to remember that love is realistic till its end, it covers the man entirely and it sees deeply, but instead of condemning, instead of denying the man, it cries for his mutilation and is ready to give its own life so that everything is sick, everything is broken to be healed.
This is what is called the attitude of entire wisdom towards man, this is the true principle of love, the first true vision.
Love is a deep pain and suffering because the man is imperfect but it is in the same time wonderment because he is so amazing, so unrepeatably beautiful. And if you look at least once at a man in this way you can love him despite everything is conspicuous for the others.
We’ve already said that love is a contemplative state when the man looking at someone else sees in that person beyond his/her exterior features, despite his voice and anything else a certain depth that represents for him an icon, a kind of beauty. This beauty was in part harmed by life, by the past, by circumstances but it’s still there and only that beauty has significance in that man – although what’s harmed must be taken into account as well.
Source: Metropolitan Anthony of Suroj, The mystery of love