11 saintly quotes on love to examine this Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday

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Saintly quotes
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When they speak about love, the saints and popes point, first and foremost, to the cross.

Love, they agree, means self-sacrifice for the good of another. They echo Jesus Christ’s own words in John 15:12-13: “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

This year, the convergence of Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday — the beginning of the penitential season of Lent leading up to Jesus’ death on the cross for all of humanity and his resurrection — presents the opportunity to contemplate authentic love.

Here are 11 quotes about self-sacrificial love from the saints and popes to reflect on this Feb. 14.

Quotes about authentic love

1. “When one loves, one does not calculate.”

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

2. “Since the Cross of Christ is the sign of love and salvation, we should not be surprised that all true love requires sacrifice. Do not be afraid, then, when love makes demands. Do not be afraid when love requires sacrifice. Do not be afraid of the Cross of Christ.”

Pope St. John Paul II, in his address to young people of New Zealand, 1986

3. “What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see the misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.”

St. Augustine

4. “Remember that when your heart feels restless, when your heart feels hurt, when your heart feels like breaking … ‘I am precious to him. He loves me. He has called me by my name. I am his. He loves me. God loves me.’ And to prove that love he died on the cross.”

St. Teresa of Calcutta

5. “My dear young friends, I want to invite you to ‘dare to love.’ Do not desire anything less for your life than a love that is strong and beautiful and that is capable of making the whole of your existence a joyful undertaking of giving yourselves as a gift to God and your brothers and sisters, in imitation of the One who vanquished hatred and death forever through love.”

Pope Benedict XVI at World Youth Day, 2007

6. “The cross is the school of love.”

St. Maximilian Kolbe

7. “Love him totally who gave himself totally for your love.”

St. Clare of Assisi

8. “Love and sacrifice are closely linked, like the sun and the light. We cannot love without suffering, and we cannot suffer without love.”

St. Gianna Beretta Molla

9. “Love is a marvelous and heavenly thing. It never tires and never thinks that it has done enough.”

St. Robert Bellarmine

10. “There is no true love without the cross, that is, without a personal price to pay. Many mothers, many fathers who sacrifice a great deal for their children, and bear true sacrifices, crosses, because they love them, say this. And the cross is not frightening when borne with Jesus, because he is always at our side to support us in the hour of the most difficult trial, to give us strength and courage.”

Pope Francis, Angelus address on June 28, 2020

11. “No one should follow what he considers to be good for himself, but rather what seems good for another. … Let them put Christ before all else; and may he lead us all to everlasting life.”

St. Benedict of Nursia

Katie Yoder

Katie Yoder is a contributing editor for Our Sunday Visitor.