On Love: Disney and the Eucharist
In our society, the concept of love is somewhat of an enigma. Either that or it’s a little bit (or a lot) twisted. From a very young age, children (girls in particular) get an impression of “love” through Disney princess movies and other fairy tales that depict falling in love as a man coming along and sweeping a young woman off her feet. I grew up on these stories, as did most of my female peers. We dressed up as Ariel, Belle, and Cinderella for Halloween (or any day of the year that we felt like it) and dreamed that “someday our prince would come.” Surely he would be handsome, strong, brave, and perfectly chivalrous—holding doors, pulling out our chairs, and giving up his princely cape (or sweatshirt) if we happened to shiver. Of course, we would instantly know beyond the shadow of a doubt that we had found our “one true love.”
There is certainly nothing wrong with chivalry; in fact, I think there should be more of it today. Daniel is very chivalrous. But it seems to me that according to most of these fairy tales, love is about a woman having warm, fuzzy feelings while batting her eyelids liberally (as Sebastian the crab so aptly demonstrates—I hope I’m not losing anyone here). Meanwhile, it is the man who is doing all the work to win the woman’s heart (or even her life). I would say Pocahontas is the exception that proves this rule.
Even if we know better, I think it is easy to sometimes slip into this mentality, at least it is for me. I want Daniel to take care of me, but I sometimes forget that I should also be taking care of him. I admittedly have a tendency towards selfishness, which I guess is part of being human. Daniel has a lot more on his plate right now than I do, since he is attending grad school with a full course load while working full time, and I still give him a hard time when he can’t do everything that I want him to do. He needs my support and my understanding, and I know that I am not giving him enough of either. This has been weighing on my mind a lot recently, especially today.
When the priest spoke the words of consecration at Mass this afternoon (I am blessed to have the opportunity to attend daily Mass right in my building) I received a nice reminder that almost made me cry. You all know how it goes: “This is my body, which will be given up for you… This is my blood…” That is true love. As the priest said those words and held up the newly consecrated host and the chalice, I was reminded that this is how I am supposed to love, too. Once Daniel and I are married, we will be symbolizing that love (if you’ve never heard of Pope John Paul II’s incredible Theology of the Body, go google it). But we should also be imaging that love right now in everything we do. For me, that means being less selfish and more selfless in my relationship with Daniel. Whatever I might “suffer” as a result is pretty insignificant anyways.
True love is often about self-sacrifice and sometimes suffering, and not just on the part of the man, as fairy tales might lead little girls to believe. Just as a disclaimer, I happen to be a pretty big fan of Disney princess movies. Something they do well is showing a girl that she should never settle for anything less than a man who is willing to fight a giant, fire-breathing dragon (think Sleeping Beauty, then think Revelation 12), risking his life to save hers. What is often left out is that a man should never settle for anything less than a woman who would do the same for him! One quick last note: if you’ve seen the new movie Enchanted, this is exactly what happens! Well done, Disney.