It is both a religious truth and fact of human experience that love gives meaning to life! However, many people suffer from love-deprivation, which is living without giving and receiving love. Being without it is one of the greatest tragedies in life. Persons deprived of love experience a loss of meaning and, therefore, cannot really experience human fulfillment or happiness. Pope John Paul II rightly observes,
“Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it.”
In other words, human beings do not really live, rather they merely exist, without love. The tragedy about that is stones, trees and houses exist, but humans are meant to live and they do that, making their lives complete, by experiencing love.
Viktor Frankl, the eminent psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, discovers that love givev meaning to life, while imagining his wife’s beauty in the very midst of suffering in a concentration camp. He writes,
“A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that love is the ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love.”
Therefore, the greatest virtue, that which makes life worth living, is love. In the words of Scripture, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (I Corinthians 13:13, NIV).
Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, 3rd ed. (New York, N.Y.: Simon and Schuster, 1984), pp. 48-49.