Monthly Archives: May 2014

Has Olaf the Snowman Read the Summa Theologica?


As we approach the summer months it seems as though just about everyone has seen the movie “Frozen.”  Most will remember the film for its great music and its humor. However, there’s an underrated  angle to “Frozen” that some will miss and that’s the fact that this is one of the few movies that actually gets love right.

Sometimes the most profound statements come from the most unlikely sources.  The smartest thought of the movie comes from Olaf, the “bright” snowman who dreams of sunbathing on a summer beach.  As Anna lies on her death bed, waiting for an act of true love to save her, it’s Olaf who defines love.  Anna: “I don’t even know what love is.” Olaf: “That’s okay. I do. Love is putting someone else’s needs before yours.”  Where would such a dense snow sculpture get such deep insight?  Maybe he was familiar with the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas.  The thirteenth century priest defined love in his “Summa Theologica” as this: “To love is to will the good of another.”

If we are to strive for what’s best for another person, it’s true that we are in it for ourselves to the extent that the other person’s well being will give us pleasure.  However, getting to this goal requires self sacrifice.  This is something Olaf the snowman understood.  Love is more than an emotion, it is an action.  An action that requires putting aside your own needs and desires for the needs of another.  Or as Jesus put it so eloquently: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  Olaf himself practiced this: when Anna was freezing to death, he built a fire even though it would most certainly lead to his demise.  As Olaf slowly made his transformation from moving ball of snow to stagnant puddle of water,  he said “some people are worth melting for.”  That could very easily be translated to “You are my friend, I’d lay down my life for you.”

Olaf survived, but his act of self sacrifice in the movie was not an isolated one.  Eventually it is a dying Anna who jumps in front of a deadly gale to save her sister, Elsa.  Because she ‘willed the good” of her sister and put Elsa’s needs in front of her own, the curse was lifted and everyone lived.  It was an act of love that conquered death.  Jesus did this, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote about it, and even though he didn’t seem too smart at times, a little snowman understood it.