Synopsis for “Eros and Agape: Expressions of Love in Sacramental Marriage”
Pope Benedict’s first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, restores a positive connection between
eros and agape, and sets out a beautiful vision for the expression of love in sacramental
marriage. The purpose of this essay is to explore some ways that sacramental couples unite eros
and agape in their expression of love.
Sacramental couples are invited to see everything as gift, and to embody God’s life,
which unites eros and agape in a unique way. Sacramental marriage is a school where couples
learn what it means to be followers of Christ. In pursuing the vocation of active love, in yielding
to one another, in being bread for each other, in healing each others’ wounds and helping each
other grow, couples conform more closely to the mind and heart of Christ (Phil. 2:5) This sort of
love expresses concretely the union of eros and agape, and, as Benedict puts it, perceives the
needs of the world with a “heart that sees where love is needed and acts accordingly.” (Deus
Caritas Est, no. 31.)
Sharing of self with others is at the heart of sacramental marriage, where couples in so
many unsung ways manifest the vision that eros and agape can be one in human relationships.
Our expression of love is an expression of God’s love – combining eros and agape in a life-
giving relationship that fulfills the individual person and enriches the world. Deus Caritas Est
can be a reminder of the deeper meaning of sacramental marriage for all who read it.
Eros and Agape: Expressions of Love in Sacramental Marriage
Joann Heaney-Hunter, Ph.D.
…Eros and agape – ascending love and
descending love – can never be separated.
The more the two, in their different aspects,
find a proper unity in the one reality of love,
the more the true nature of love in general is
The Catholic Church has traditionally presented eros, the passionate expression of love
often turned i