Slide 15 Slide 2 Foto di Filippo Maria Gianfelice

EROS AND AGAPE Christ’s redemption of love and beauty

Christ’s redemption of love and beauty
International Leaders Forum,
Roma, Augustginianum, 7 Novembre 2014

1. A pearl between two valves

There is an area in which secularisation acts in a particularly widespread and ominous manner, and that is the area of love. The secularisation of love consists in separating human love, in all its forms, from God, reducing it to something purely “profane”, where God is “in the way”, or is even a nuisance.

The theme of love is crucial, first of all, for the inner life of the Church, for the sanctification of its members. This is the perspective in which Benedict XVI’s encyclical Deus caritas est lies and in which I am placing these reflections, too. To my analysis of love, I will add some considerations about beauty which is inseparable from love, trying to show how Christ has redeemed both eros and beauty.

Love suffers from a tragic separation not just in the mindset of the secularised world, but also, on the opposite side, among believers. In very simplistic terms, we can express the situation thus: in the world we find eros without agape; among believers we often find agape without eros.

Eros without agape is a romantic love, more often passionate, even to the point of violence. A love of conquest which fatally reduces the other person to an object of one’s own pleasure and ignores every dimension of sacrifice, faithfulness and self-giving. There is no need keep on describing this love because it is a reality which is in front of our eyes every day, advertised in a pounding way by novels, films, TV fiction, the internet, and gossip magazines. It is what common language now means by the word “love”.

For us it is more useful to understand what is meant by agape without eros. Agape without eros seems to us to be like “cold love”, loving “with the tips of your hair”, more by the dictation of will than the intimate impulse of the heart; a falling into a pre-constituted mould, rather than creating one’s own unique one, just as every human being is unique before God. The actions of love addressed to God are similar, in this case, to those of innocent people in love who write love letters copied from a special handbook.

If worldly love is a body without a soul, religious love practised in this way is a soul without a body. The human being is not an angel, that is, a pure spirit; it is the soul and body essentially united. Everything it does, including loving, must reflect its structure. If the element linked to affectivity and the heart is systematically denied or repressed, the outcome will be twofold: either one carries on wearily, out of a sense of duty and to defend one’s own image, or one seeks more or less legitimate compensations, to the point of the very sad cases which we know well. At the root of many of the moral deviances of consecrated souls, the fact that there is a distorted and twisted concept of love cannot be ignored.

So we have a dual reason and urgency to rediscover love in its original unity. True and integral love is a pearl closed within two valves which are eros and agape. These two dimensions of love cannot be separated without destroying it, just as hydrogen and oxygen cannot be separated without depriving oneself of water.

2. Incompatibility of the two loves?

The most important reconciliation between the two dimensions of love is that practical one which happens in people’s lives, but precisely for it to be made possible it is necessary to begin by reconciling eros and agape between them even theoretically, in doctrine. Inter alia, this will enable us to know at last what is meant by these two terms which are so often used and misunderstood.

The importance of this question arises from the fact there is a book which made the opposite thesis, the incompatibility between the two forms of love, popular throughout the Christian world. It is the book by the Swedish Lutheran theologian Anders Nygren, entitled Agape and Eros. We can summarise his thought in these terms. Eros and agape describe two opposite movements: the former, the human person’s ascent and climb to God, as to one’s good and origin; the latter, God’s descent to humanity in the incarnation and the cross of Christ: therefore, the salvation offered to humanity without merit and response on its part, which is not faith alone. The New Testament made a precise choice, using, to express love, the term agape and systematically rejecting the term eros.

Saint Paul is the one who with the greatest purity drew together and expressed this doctrine of love. After him, again according to Nygren’s theory, such a radical antithesis was lost almost immediately to give way to attempts at some sort of synthesis. As soon as Christianity came into cultural contact with the Greek world and the Platonic vision, already with Origen, there was a re-assessment of eros, as upward movement of the soul towards the good, as universal attraction exercised by beauty and the divine. It was along these lines that Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite was to write that “God is eros”, replacing the agape in John’s famous phrase (1 Jn. 4:16) with this term.

In the West a similar synthesis was carried out by Augustine with his doctrine of caritas understood as doctrine of the descending and gratuitous love of God for humanity (no one has spoken of “grace” in a more decisive way than him!), but also as the human person’s longing for the good and for God. His is the statement: “You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you”; his is also the image of love as a weight which attracts the soul, like the force of gravity, towards God, as the place of one’s rest and pleasure. For Nygren, all of this introduces an element of self-love, of one’s own good, therefore of egoism, which destroys the pure gratuitousness of grace; it is a relapse into the pagan illusion of seeing salvation consisting in an ascent to God, rather than the gratuitous and unmotivated descent of God to us.

Prisoners of this impossible synthesis between eros and agape, between love of God and of self, are, for Nygren, Saint Bernard in defining the supreme degree of God’s love as “loving God for himself” and a “loving oneself for God”, Saint Bonaventure with his ascensional The Soul’s Journey into God, and Saint Thomas Aquinas himself who described the love of God poured out into the heart of the baptised (cf. Rom 5:5) as “the love by which he loves us and which makes us love him”. This, in fact, is like saying that the human person, loved by God, can in turn love God, give him something of him/herself, which destroys, still according to Nygren, the absolute gratuitousness of God’s love. The same deviation happens, according to him, with Catholic mysticism. The love of the mystics, with its very strong emphasis on eros, is, for him, none other than sublimated sensual love, an attempt to establish a relationship of presumptuous reciprocity in love with God.

It was Luther who broke the ambiguity and highlighted the clear Pauline antithesis. Basing justification on faith alone, according to the Lutheran theologian he did not exclude charity from the foundational moment of the Christian life, as Catholic theology reproaches him: rather, he liberated charity, agape, from the spurious element of eros. To the formula of “faith alone”, with the exclusion of works, would correspond, in Luther, the formula of “agape alone”, with the exclusion of eros.

It is not my task here to ascertain whether the author correctly interpreted the thought of Luther on this matter. It must be said that Luther never set out the problem in terms of the contrast between eros and agape, as he did instead for faith and works. Significant, however, is the fact that Karl Barth, too, in a chapter of his Church Dogmatics, reaches the same conclusion as Nygren of the incompatibility between eros and agape: “Where Christian love enters, there always begins at once the unceasing controversy between itself and every other love”. We are completely in the realm of dialectical theology, the theology of the aut-aut (either-or), of the antithesis at all costs.

The repercussion of this operation is the radical worldliness and secularisation of eros. While in fact a certain theology excluded eros from agape, secular culture, for its part, was more than happy to do the opposite, excluding agape from eros, that is, every reference to God and to the grace of human love. Freud went to the extreme in this line of thought, reducing love to eros and eros to libido, to pure sexual drive. It is the stage to which love is reduced today in many manifestations of life and culture, especially in the world of entertainment, to sex appeal, the attraction of the sexes.

A few years ago I was in Madrid and the newspapers were making a great fuss about a certain art exhibition being held in the city, entitled “The tears of eros”. It was an exhibition of works of art with an erotic background – pictures, drawings, sculptures – intending to highlight the inseparable link, in the experience of the modern person, between eros and thanatos, between love and death. The same conclusion can be reached reading Baudelaire’s poetry Les fleurs du mal or Rimbaud’s Une Saison en Enfer. The love which by its nature should lead to life, now leads instead to death.

3. Return to the synthesis

If we are unable to suddenly change the world’s idea of love, we can, however, correct the theological vision which – of course without wanting to – encourages and legitimises it. This is what Benedict XVI has done in exemplary fashion in the encyclical Deus caritas est. He reaffirms the traditional Catholic synthesis expressing it in modern terminology:

“Yet eros and agape – ascending love and descending love – can never be completely separated. [...] biblical faith does not set up a parallel universe, or one opposed to that primordial human phenomenon which is love, but rather accepts the whole man; it intervenes in his search for love in order to purify it and to reveal new dimensions of it” (nos. 7-8).

Eros and agape are united to the source itself of love which is God: “God loves”, the Encyclical continues, “and his love may certainly be called eros, yet it is also totally agape” (n. 9).

Thus one understands the unusually favourable reception this papal document received in the more open and responsible secular quarters, too. It gives hope to the world. It corrects the image of a faith which touches the world at a tangent, without penetrating right into it, with the gospel image of the leaven which makes the dough ferment; to replace the idea of a kingdom of God come to “judge” the world, with that of a kingdom of God come to “save” the world, starting from the eros which is its dominating force.

I believe that the Catholic vision, which on this point coincides with the Orthodox vision, can be confirmed from an exegetical point of view, too. Those who support the idea of the incompatibility between eros and agape base their view on the fact that the New Testament carefully avoids – and, it seems, deliberately – the term eros, always and only using in its place agape, apart from some rare use of the term philia, indicating the love of friendship.
This may be true, but the conclusions drawn from it are not. It is supposed that the New Testament authors remember both the meaning that the term eros had in common usage – the so-called “vulgar” eros – and the elevated and philosophical meaning which the so-called “noble” eros had, for example, in Plato. In the popular meaning, eros indicated more or less what it means today, too, when one speaks of eroticism or erotic films, that is, the satisfaction of the sexual instinct, a debasement rather than enhancement. In the noble meaning, it indicated love for beauty, the strength which holds the world together and drives all human beings to unity, that is, that movement of ascent towards the divine which the dialectical theologians believe to be incompatible with the movement of the descent of the divine towards humanity.

It is difficult to believe that the New Testament authors, addressing simple people and of no culture, intended to warn them about the eros of Plato. They avoided the term eros for the same reason why a preacher today avoids the term erotic or, if they use it, does so only in a negative sense. The reason is that, then as now, the word calls to mind love in its most selfish and sensual expression.

The meaning which the first Christians gave to the word eros is deduced clearly from the well-known text of Saint Ignatius of Antioch: “My love (eros) has been crucified, and there is no fire in me desiring to be fed…I have no delight in corruptible food, nor in the pleasures of this life”. Contrary to what was believed, the expression “My love (eros) has been crucified” does not mean the crucified Jesus, but the “love of myself”, the attachment to earthly pleasures. We are along the Pauline line of “I have been crucified with Christ and I live now not with my own life” (Gal 2:19 f.).

The feeling of the first Christians about eros was further compounded by the role it played in the unbridled Dionysiac cults. As soon as Christianity came into contact and dialogue with Greek philosophical culture, then every inhibition about eros fell away, as we have already seen. In Greek authors, the term was often used as synonymous with agape and to indicate God’s love for humanity, humanity’s love for God, as well as love for virtues and all things beautiful. To convince ourselves of this, a quick glance at Lampe’s A Patristic Greek Lexicon is sufficient. That of Nygren and Barth is therefore a system built on a false application of the so-called argument “of silence” (ex silentio).

4. Christ, primary object of the human eros
The liberation of eros helps first of all human beings in love and Christian spouses, showing the beauty and dignity of the love which unites them. It helps young people to experience the allure of the other sex not as something dark, to be lived sheltered from God, but on the contrary as a gift of the Creator for their joy, if lived in the order desired by him. The Pope also alludes in his Encyclical to this positive role of eros on human love when he speaks of the path of purification of eros which leads from momentary attraction to the “forever” of matrimony” (nos. 4-5).

But the liberation of eros must help everyone, even those who are not married, the celibate and consecrated virgins. At the start I hinted at the risk run by religious souls, which is that of a cold love, which never descends from the mind to the heart. A winter sun which gives light but no warmth. If eros means impulse, desire, attraction, we must not be afraid of feelings, much less despise and repress them. When it is love of God – wrote William of Saint-Thierry – the feeling of affection (affectio) is grace, too; it is not in fact nature which can instil in us such a sentiment.

The Psalms are full of this yearning of the heart for God: “To you, Lord, I lift up my soul…”, “My soul is thirsting for God, the living God”. In The Cloud of Unknowing, a classic of Medieval spiritual literature, one reads: “So pay attention to this marvellous work of grace within your soul. It is always a sudden impulse and comes without warning, springing up to God like some spark from the fire…Strike that thick cloud of unknowing with the sharp dart of longing love, and on no account whatever think of giving up”.

To do that a thought, an impulse of the heart, an aspiration is sufficient. But all of that is not enough for us, and God knows that better than us. We are creatures, we live in time and in a body; we need a screen on which to project our love which is not just “the cloud of unknowing”, that is the veil of obscurity behind which is hiding the God whom no one has ever seen and who lives in inaccessible light.

We know full well the response given to this question: precisely for this reason God has given us a neighbour to love! “No one has ever seen God; but as long as we love one another God will live in us and his love will be complete in us…A man who does not love the brother that he can see cannot love God, whom he has never seen” (1 Jn 4:12, 20). But we must be careful to not miss out a decisive link. Before the brother one sees there is another who can be seen and touched: the God made flesh, Jesus Christ! Between God and the neighbour there is now the Word made flesh who has re-united the two extremes in one person. And now in him is to be found the foundation of the same love of neighbour: “You did it to me”.

What does all this mean for the love of God? That the primary object of our eros, of our search, desire, attraction, passion, must be the Christ,

“Human love is pre-ordained to the Saviour from the beginning, as its model and end, almost like a casket so large and wide as to be able to receive God [...]. The desire of the soul goes only to Christ. Here is the place of its rest, since he alone is the good, the truth and everything which inspires love”.

Resounding clearly throughout the whole of Western monastic spirituality is Saint Benedict’s maxim: “Prefer nothing whatsoever to the love of Christ”. This does not mean limiting the horizon of Christian love from God to Christ; it means loving God in the manner in which he wants to be loved. “The Father himself loves you for loving me” (Jn 16:27). This is not a mediated love, almost by proxy, by which whoever loves Jesus “it is as if” they love the Father. No, Jesus is an immediate mediator; loving him then ipso facto one loves the Father, too. “To see me is to see the Father”, who loves me loves the Father.

The beauty and fullness of the Christian life depend on the quality of our love for Christ. Jesus is the perfect man; at an infinitely superior level are found in him all those qualities and concerns which a man seeks in a woman and a woman in a man. His love does not necessarily subtract us from the allure of creatures and in particular the attraction of the other sex (this is part of our nature which God himself has created and does not want to destroy); however, it gives us the strength to overcome these attractions with a stronger attraction. “Chaste”, writes Saint John Climacus, “is the one who drives out eros with Eros”.

5. Christ’s Love redeems Beauty
We can now see how redeeming eros, Christ has also redeemed beauty, the two realities being closely connected. In the Greek Platonic thought eros is inseparable from kalòs, beauty. In this line, Dionysius the Aeropagite writes:
God, who is beautiful beyond being, is said to be Beauty—for it gives Beauty from itself in a manner appropriate to each …[He is] the productive cause which makes and conserves the whole by its love (eros!) of the beauty which is proper for each being; the final cause—for all beings merge for the sake of the beautiful; the paradigmatic cause [for] all are determined according to it.
God is the author of all the beauty of the world. He wanted beauty (together with goodness) to be a ladder on which we ascend to him, the “one who attracts,” the magnet. But if this is the case, why does beauty so often lead to destruction, and why do we read such words in the Scripture as “beauty is vain” (Proverbs 31:30), “beauty has deceived you” (Daniel 13:5), and “Your heart was proud because of your beauty” (Ezekiel 28:17)?
I do not want to deal with the theme of beauty from the essential and metaphysical point of view—what beauty is in itself, what its relationship to truth and goodness is—but from an existential point of view. In other words, I would like to reflect on our experience of beauty. I would also like to highlight a very specific and limited aspect of that experience: not the beauty of seas and sunsets but of the human body, male and female.
This is the beauty that generates eros, one of the great forces, as we have seen, that moves the world—and perhaps the most powerful. The beauty of seas and sunsets and of ideas, is not erotic, but the beauty of the body is, with all that we know it entails. To the extent in which advertising or entertainment reflect the spirit, the tastes, and expectations of an age, this type of beauty that I referred to as erotic seems to be the most sought-after value, the great “object of worship” in affluent societies. Modern man “doubts the truth, resists the good, but is fascinated by beauty.”
This is a new challenge for believers. It is first of all a human problem whose solution will determine the very future of culture and life. For believers, it is also a problem of evangelization. How do we evangelize by means of beauty a world that has such a debased idea of it? The words that the Idiot, one of Dostoevsky’s favorite characters, says are well known and often repeated: “. . . beauty will save the world”; however, that affirmation is followed immediately in Dostoevsky by a question: “What kind of beauty will save the world?” It is clear—for him as well—that not every beauty will save the world. There is a beauty that can save the world, and a beauty that can lead it to perdition.
One sign of the ambiguity about beauty is that we find in modern culture, along with its exaltation, an explicit refusal of beauty, a real “insult to beauty,” so much so that we can speak of the death of beauty as we did in the past about the death of God. Since those in the past who expressed themselves about beauty were almost exclusively men, the disdain for beauty was transferred to a disdain for woman. In the works of the fathers of the so-called modern poetry we find such terrible verses as “O sweet merciful Woman—but a heap of entrails . . . .” In a painting an artist depicts monstrous birds rushing toward a female body as if it were a corpse. Someone has described some of the famous women of abstract art as “corpses of beauty.”
It is beauty itself (and not just that of woman) that becomes “demystified” and violated in this way. The beginning of a collection of poems by Arthur Rimbaud is famous: “One night I settled Beauty on my knee and found her bitter.—And I insulted her.” In art this attitude leads to the controversial depiction of anti-aesthetic objects like urinals and other similar things that have ended up in some museums.
What causes this ambiguity? The traditional answer is “sin.” But there is an anterior cause to sin itself. The ambiguity of beauty finds its roots in the composite nature of human beings who have both a material and an immaterial element, something that draws them to multiplicity and something that inclines them instead to unity. It is the same God who created both together in a profound “substantial” unity because, with the exercise of free will guided by the word of God, people choose the direction in which they will develop, i.e., whether “upward” toward that which is “above” them or “downward” toward that which is “below” them, toward unity or multiplicity.
The dignity of human beings and the privileged exercise of their freedom consist precisely in this capacity for self-determination. This explains the struggle between flesh and the Spirit as well as the dramatic element that characterizes the existence of human beings in the world and their relationship to beauty.
Created beauty can become the tomb instead of the occasion of exercising freedom because, as we know, it enslaves people. To possess and enjoy that beauty some people do exactly what others do to get drugs: steal, kill, or kill themselves. In crimes of passion we take into account the extenuating circumstances precisely because we realize that the person is operating with reduced freedom. Disordered love of beauty leads to “beastly conduct” because it deprives people of the very things that make them “human”—reason and freedom.
Literature offers us famous symbols of these two kinds of feminine beauty; beauty that elevates – like that of Beatrice in Dante’s Divine Comedy – and beauty that destroys —like that of Helen in Homer’s Iliad. The ambiguity of beauty also finds memorable expression in the Bible. On one hand, there is the beauty in the Song of Songs of the two lovers trying to outdo each other in celebrating one another; on the other hand, there is the beauty of a woman that drew David into adultery and crime (see 2 Samuel 11:2). “Beauty has deceived you,” says Daniel to one of the two elders who wanted the chaste Susanna put to death (see Daniel 13:56).
Stopping at created beauty is seen by the Bible as the very essence of idolatry, insofar as it puts the creature in the place of the Creator:
For all men who were ignorant of GOD were foolish by nature; and they were unable from the good things that are seen to know him who exists, nor did they recognize the craftsman while paying heed to his works. . . . If through delight in the beauty of these things men assumed them to be gods, let them know how much better than these is their LORD, for the author of beauty created them. (Wisdom 13:1-3; see Romans 1:20-23)
The downward move from the level of spiritual beauty to purely material beauty also tends to be reflected within the creature and in particular the woman. The representation of female beauty does not usually focus on the face in which the feelings and thoughts—in a word, the soul—of the woman are so clearly manifested, but focuses instead on other parts of the body, always the same parts. There are no more “Mona Lisa’s” in art, and at this point it seems doubtful that there will be any in the future.
Feminine beauty is entirely reduced to a means of seduction (sex appeal), to the grave detriment of women themselves who end up seen only in relationship to men as objects and not as persons.

6. Christ Has Redeemed Beauty
Let us now see how Christ has redeemed beauty from its vanity and ambiguity. St. Paul wrote, “the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; . . . the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:20-21). We could substitute the word “beauty” for “creation” in this text without changing the meaning of this affirmation in any way: “Beauty has been subjected to futility and waits to be set free.” To save the world, beauty itself first needs to be redeemed. The redemption of Christ does, in fact, extend to beauty. Let us see how that happened.
A contrast between two statements about Christ is quite striking. On one hand, he is seen as “the fairest of the sons of men” (Psalm 45:2), and “He reflects the glory of God” (Hebrews 1:3). On the other hand, the words of the Fourth Servant Song are applied to him in his passion: “He had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him . . . . [He was] as one from whom men hide their faces” (Isaiah 53:2-3). The explanation of this contrast is simple: Jesus redeemed beauty by depriving himself of it out of love. “Because he took flesh, he took, as it were, your hideousness, that is, your mortality, that he might adapt himself to you and correspond to you and arouse you to loving the beauty within . . . . ‘He did not have attractiveness or comeliness’ [cf. Isaiah 53:2], in order that he might give you attractiveness and comeliness.”
To understand this paradox we need to go back to the principle that Paul formulated at the beginning of 1 Corinthians: “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe” (1:21). Applied to beauty, this means that since man is not capable of lifting himself up to the beauty of the Creator through the beauty of creatures, God changed his method, so to speak, and decided to reveal his beauty through the ignominy and the deformity of the cross and suffering, thus revealing his beauty through its opposite (sub contraria specie), as Luther might say. The attainment of beauty now comes about through the paschal mystery of death and resurrection.
The model and source of redeemed beauty is “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). Beauty is no longer the abstract “splendor of truth,” as Plato defined it, but is, concretely, the splendor of Christ (even if the two coincide since he himself is the Truth). Even Beauty was incarnated!
What differentiates this redeemed beauty from every other type of beauty including bodily beauty? It is that this beauty comes from within, that it has its expression—but not its origin—in the body. The human body becomes the “sacrament” of beauty, i.e., its sign, its manifestation, its transparent expression, but not its ultimate source. It is not an opaque screen on which the light shines, but a window that lets light through.

7. Participating in the Redemption of Beauty
How can we actively participate in this redemption of beauty? Christ, as I said, has redeemed beauty in the paschal mystery through its opposite, allowing himself to be stripped of every beauty. He has proclaimed that there is something superior to the very love of beauty, and it is the beauty of love!
What does all this mean for us? Should we renounce seeking and enjoying created beauty in this world, and most of all the beauty of the human body, as we await the transfiguration of our bodies in the final resurrection? No, created beauty is meant to embellish this life and not the future life, which will have its own beauty. A text from Vatican II speaks of the need for all human acts and values to “be purified and perfected by the power of Christ’s cross” and concludes,
For, redeemed by Christ and made a new creature in the Holy Spirit, man is able to love the things themselves created by God, and ought to do so. He can receive them from God, and respect and reverence them as flowing constantly from the hand of God.
Grateful to his Benefactor for these creatures, using and enjoying them in detachment and liberty of spirit, man is led forward into a true possession of the world, as having nothing, yet possessing all things. [See 2 Corinthians 6:10]
Francis of Assisi is the most successful role model of this way of relating to creation. The saint of radical poverty is also the one who sang the beauty of creation in the most rapturous way. In his “Canticle” Brother Sun is “beautiful,” the stars are “precious and beautiful,” Brother Fire is “beautiful.” The most extraordinary thing is that Francis sang of the beauty of creatures when he could no longer see them, since by then he was almost blind, and the very light of the sun caused unspeakable pain to his eyes. Having renounced everything, he was able to rejoice in everything.
We can, then, enjoy created beauty if we also accept the cross that redeems it. And the cross of beauty does not entail some kind of strange suffering: it is love, and all that love requires in faithfulness, respect for others, submission to God, and the meaning of life, in other words, sacrifice and renunciation.
The redemption of beauty inevitably happens through a choice now. The move from one category of beauty to the next higher one—from external beauty to internal beauty and then to the transcendent beauty of grace—does not occur in a spontaneous and easy way. It requires an ascesis (“discipline”) and, with regard to beauty in particular, an asceticism of the eyes. Ludwig Feuerbach said that people are what they eat; in our current culture wholly dominated by images, perhaps we need to say that people are what they look at.
More important, however, than closing one’s eyes to false beauty is opening them to true beauty: contemplating Christ crucified and risen. St. John Climacus writes, “A chaste man is someone who has driven out bodily love by means of divine love, who has used heavenly fire to quench the fires of the flesh,” that is, the attraction to created things is driven out by attraction to Christ.
A different mode, but a very important one, of participating in the paschal mystery of the redemption of beauty is, lastly, to turn our attention to those who, like Christ in his passion, “have no form or comeliness that we should look at them”—the poor, the crucified, the rejected of our day. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, holding in her arms, with infinite tenderness, a sick child or a dying person who was abandoned, took part—despite all her wrinkles—in this redeemed beauty which also redeems. It will not be, I repeat, the love of beauty that will save the world but the beauty of love.

1.The Swedish original was published in Stockholm 1930; English translation, Agape and Eros, London, SPCK, 1982.
2.Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, The Divine Names, IV, 12 (PG 3, 709ff.).
3.Saint Augustine, Confessions, I, 1.
4. Commentary on St John’s Gospel, 26, 4-5.
5.Cf. Saint Bernard, De diligendo Deo, IX, 26 – X, 27.
6.Saint Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on the Letter to the Romans, chap. V, Lecture 1., nn. 392-393; cf. Saint Augustine, Homilies on the First Epistle of John, 9, 9.
7.K Barth, Church Dogmatics, IV, 2, 727-840 [quote from page 736], T & T Clark, Edinburgh, 1958.
8.Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Romans, 7, 2.
9.Cf. G W H Lampe, A Patristic Greek Lexicon, Oxford 1961, pg. 550.
10.William of Saint-Thierry, Meditations, XII, 29 (SCh 324, pg. 210).
11.The Cloud of Unknowing, Penguin Books Ltd., Middlesex, 1967, pgs. 57, 60.
12. N Cabasilas, Vita in Cristo, II, 9 (PG 150, 560-561).
13. Saint John Climacus, Stairway to Paradise, XV, 98 (PG 88, 880).
14.Psuedo-Dionysius Areopagite, The Divine Names, IV, 7, in The Divine Names and Mystical Theology, trans. and intro. by John D. Jones (Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press, 1980), pp. 139-40. He considers the word “beauty” (kalos) to be a derivation of “to call” (kaleo) insofar as it is something that beckons, that draws.
15. Cardinal Godfried Danneels, in his intervention to the extraordinary Consistory, May 2001.
16.Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Idiot, III, 5, trans. by Henry and Olga Carlisle (New York: The New American Library, 199), p. 402.
17.Arthur Rimbaud, “Sisters of Charity” [“Soeurs de charité”], in Rimbaud Complete, trans. and intro. by Wyatt Mason (New York: Modern Library, 2002), p. 70; cf. also Charles Baudelaire, “The Vampire,” trans. by George Dillon, in The Flowers of Evil [Les fleurs du mal] (Franklin Center, PA: The Franklin Library, 1977), pp. 50-1.
18.Fr. Serge Bulgakov, qtd. in Evdokimov, p. 88.
19.“Un soir, j’ai assis la Beauté sur mes genoux.—Et je l’ai trouvée amère.—Et je l’ai injuriée.” Arthur Rimbaud, “A Season in Hell” [“Une saison en enfer”], Arthur Rimbaud: Selected Poems and Letters, trans. by Jeremy Harding and John Sturrock (New York: Penguin Books, 2004), p. 139.
20. St. Augustine, Tractates on the First Epistle of John, 9, 9, trans. by John W. Rettig, vol. 92 in The Fathers of the Church (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1995), pp. 258-59.
21.Plato, The Republic, trans. by Richard W. Sterling and William C. Scott (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1966), p. 198.
22.Gaudium et spes [Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World], 37, in The Documents of Vatican II, gen. ed. Walter M. Abbott, SJ, intro. by Cardinal Lawrence Shehan, trans. by Joseph Gallagher (New York: Herder and Herder Association Press, 1966), p. 235.
23.Francis of Assisi, “The Canticle of Brother Sun,” in Frances and Clare: The Complete Works, pref. by John Vaughn, OFM, trans and intro. by Regis J. Armstrong, OFM CAP, and Ignatius C. Brady, OFM (New York: Paulist Press, 1982), pp. 38-39.
24. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, Step 15, trans. by Kallistos Ware, trans. by Colm Luibheid and Norman Russel (New York: Paulist Press, 1982), p. 171.