Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Deus Caritas Est - Erotic Love Part 2

The problem of our culture today is that it sees agape love as Christian love, since it is self-sacrificial and rooted in our faith in God. Erotic love, however, because of its possessive nature, is seen as distinctively non-Christian. However, the Pope says, despite these two seemingly opposing points of view, there is a unity in these two types of love. The more these two aspects of love find their unity in the overall reality of love, the more the true nature of love is realized.

It is eros that leads us to agape. It is through eros that we begin our search for happiness, and our intentions become less and less self-centered, and thus grow gradually to a greater selflessness, thus the entering of agape. And agape itself cannot survive on its own. Man cannot constantly give, but he must receive as well. Receiving is an act of love, it is an affirmation of the love shown to you, and thus the agape love leads to the love of eros. Both types of love are totally and utterly dependent on each other. Without each other, love is not at its fullest, but is incomplete. The Pope is saying something very important here; that it is good to receive and bad to just give. Love is an act that involves two parties. Love must also be reciprocated. Thus, when one gives love, another receives, and, as a response to that reception of love, one gives back. Love is thus a communion, which is the very inner life of the Trinity. Therefore, love must contain both the love of agape and eros. This is exemplified to us through Jacob's latter and its interpretation by the Church Fathers. They saw Jacob's latter as a metaphor for love, of our seeking God (eros), and receiving God's love (agape). The ascending of the latter was the seeking of God, while descending was the reception of that love.

Thus, the Pope concludes, love is a singular reality, with various dimensions that emerge more clearly to us as we are purified by God's love. Love, however, can be mistaken when it's various dimensions are separated from each other to appear as though they are very distinct realities, and thus the true idea of love is impoverished and incomplete. The Bible speaks to the truth of the human experience of love, and this is expressed in the Song of Songs, in which the first part expresses the seeking of love and this seeking is fulfilled through the giving of self. Thus love can only be fulfilled when the twodimensions of eros and agape are seen as dimensions of the same reality of love. This now brings us to our biblical faith. We must now put these aspects of love into context of the image of God and the image of man

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