Below is a blog entry written by Mark Lombard of Franciscan Media the parent company of St. Anthony Messenger Press. In his post he reflects on the subject and content of my new book Dating God: Live and Love in the Way of St. Francis and shares some of our interview from last month. To read more from the blog, visit


By Mark Lombard

Many of us who are married or in a committed relationship look to Valentine’s Day as a special time once a year to profess our love, our closeness, the intimacy that we share with that significant other in our lives.

That relationship is different from loving relationships with parents, siblings, other family members and friends.

But what about our relationship with God? Do we really love God? How can we describe that love? Scary, confusing questions put us face-to-face with how we understand our connection with and the presence of God our lives, and how we understand ourselves.

Franciscan Daniel P. Horan, OFM, helps us wrestle with these issues, drawing on St. Francis’ spirituality, in the newly released Dating God:Live and Love in the Way of St. Francis.

In an interview I did with the friar in the Franciscan Media offices last month, Brother Dan, who has taught at Siena College, has led retreats with young adults and who writes for the blog “Dating God: Franciscan Spirituality for the 21st Century,” stressed that the desire, the uncertainty, the passion and time set aside with those most important to us should resemble our relationship with God.

“One of the things that I want to stress from the book,” he says, “is that we become so focused on our relationship with God as different from that of other people, whether it’s our spouse, our friends, our co-workers.

“But,” Dan says, “our relationship with God is a human relationship like it is with anything else.”

He pointed to different images people use to understand their relationship with God: parent, brother, guide on a journey or, as some Christian mystics have suggested, lover. But he stressed that any image we use for God, who is so different from us, “will be helpful for some people and not for others.”

But while many Christians speak about loving God, oftentimes that love seems devoid of connection, of real relation to our lives, of intimacy, of the impossibility of anything but difference between us and the divine.

The image of dating for Brother Dan is one way to break through that. “This will allow somebody to think about God as somebody we can relate to, not unlike somebody we are dating.

“And in good relationships, dating relationships, when you’re getting to know somebody, we’re very excited and energetic about that,” he says. “The same is true about God.”

But it becomes “unnerving … to pause and think about somebody who knows all of the deep, dark secrets of our hearts and at the same time knows the joys of our lives.

“So what this book I hope does,” he says, “is get people to a good glimpse of what Francis and Clare of Assisi and their followers offer us in way of inspiration, wisdom and insight in helping us to understand our relationship to God in a contemporary way in the 21st century.”

What a special Valentine’s Day gift for us and our beloved – to enter into a fuller, a closer relationship with the source of all life and hope.


About the Author

Mark Lombard

Mark Lombard, Product Development Division director, has worked throughout his career in Catholic publishing. A marathon runner, he is the father of two and a grandfather. Mark is an avid jazz lover, traveling with his musician wife to catch jazz performances throughout the East Coast or picking up his stand-up bass to play music with her.

Photo: Mark Lombard.


  1. I just finished reading Br. Dan’s book, “Dating God” and it was a very moving and thought provoking book. I look forward to more from him!

  2. I think this article is somewhat right, you can not “date God” but you can show him love. You cant get him chocolates or roses but you can give him your heart. For valentines day no one is dating God but they are asking God to help them with there love or to help find there love.

  3. I believe your statement about us not being in a relationship with God is wrong. Isaiah 54:5 tells us, “For your Maker is your husband–the LORD Almighty is his name–the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.” This passage obviously is not implying that we are actually married to God, but God and us (should) have a relationship like that of a married couple. Our relationship should include communication, trust, respect, and, most of all, love.

    1. Hi Josh, thanks for your comment — but I’m not sure that I understand your first sentence. Nowhere do I say we are “not” in relationship with God, in fact the whole premise is quite the opposite — we are already always in relationship with God, but we need to work on it like we need to work on all of our relationships!

  4. I do not believe that we are “dating God”. I do not need to give God a Valentine’s Day gift. Everyday I help others or make others feel better, I am giving something to God.

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