Fall 2006

The Redemption of Eros: Philosophical Reflections on Benedict XVI’s First Encyclical

D. C. Schindler

“God is charity, then, because the world is dear to him. It represents, in some respect, a goodness and beauty that God himself ‘desires.’”1

“By love, God has revealed himself and given himself to man. He has thus provided the definitive, superabundant answer to the questions that man asks himself about the meaning and purpose of his life” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 68). According to the text of Gaudium et spes, 22, Jesus Christ reveals man to himself—i.e., reveals the ultimate meaning of human existence—precisely by revealing the love of the Father. It is in Christ that we discover that “God is love” (1 Jn 4:16), and therefore that human beings, who are made in the image of God, are made in the image of love. But if human life finds its supernatural completion in the gift of God’s love as grace, it is only because love expresses the meaning of human nature. In the prologue to his first encyclical, Deus caritas est, Pope Benedict XVI explains that one of his primary intentions in this letter is to clarify the “link” between the supernatural Love offered gratuitously to man and the human love that constitutes as it were the very substance of existence.


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1. A version of this essay was delivered as the inaugural lecture of the “Faith & Reason” series sponsored by the Humanities Department at Villanova University, March 2006.