Not only are divine love and human passion not incompatible; there is no truly Christian faith and experience that does not have passionate love at its center.
For the Christian, married eros itself must imitate Christ's divine eros which equates love and self-oblation; it must share Christ's highest and ultimate intentions, so that husbands and wives must love each other with a view to sanctity and their common union with God. It is this obedience and fidelity required by marriage that keeps eros from becoming a supreme deity, which in its blindness is what it would like to make itself; but then it would become a demon, destroying both itself and everything around it.
Even better perhaps it would be to say that, in both Christian marriage and consecrated celibacy, natural human eros is redeemed by being united with the divine eros, which both created the world to rejoice in its beauty and recreated it in Christ once it had fallen, in order again to embrace it. Can either of these events really be explained in purely rational terms?
Not only are divine love and human passion not incompatible; there is no truly Christian faith and experience that does not have passionate love at its center, love in the image of Christ's own. Christianity, therefore is not primarily a set of philosophical propositions appealing to the mind and looking there for assent, or a social project to realize an earthly utopia. All Christian truth (whether intellectual or social) ultimately derives from the Heart of God as a burning furnace of love; "I came to cast fire upon the earth' and would that it were already kindled!"
Father Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis. "Christian Marriage" from Love's Sacred Order: Four Meditations (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000).
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Ignatius Press.
Painting: "Pearl of Great Price" is by Michael O'Brien.
Artist's reflection: A newly married couple unwraps the mystery of their sacrament. As they offer the mutual gift of self, layers of love are opened. The pearl of great price, the Kingdom of God, is within them, waiting to be opened. Visit Studio O'Brien here.
Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and Theology from Emory University. His areas of interest include liturgy and liturgical texts, Georg Trakl's poetry, the Gospel of Matthew, French and German poetry of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Greek and Roman classics, and Dante. He is the author of Fire of Mercy: Heart of the Word, a two-volume commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Love's Sacred Order: The Four Loves Revisited, and The Way of the Disciple. He has also translated numerous works for Ignatius Press.Copyright © 2000 Ignatius Press
back to top