“DEUS CARITAS EST”
A. What is it?
“Deus Caritas Est” is an Encyclical by Pope Benedict XVI released on Jan 25, 2006 (Feast Day of St Paul).
The title “Deus Caritas Est” means “God is Love”. It is sub-titled “De Christiano Amore” (Of Christian Love)
The title is derived from the First Letter of St John: “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (I Jn 4:16).
B. What does it speak of?
The Encyclical can be seen as a progression with two major portions:
I. The first part presents a theological and philosophical reflection on the different dimensions of “love” – expressed in the Greek words for love: Eros, Philia, Agape. It explains some essential facts concerning God’s Love and the intrinsic connection of this Love with human love.
II. The second part speaks of the charitable activities of the Church as an expression of Love which draws its power from contemplative union with God. It also refers to the Church’s threefold responsibility: (1) Proclaiming the Word of GOD (Kerygma-Martyria) (2) Celebrating the Sacraments (Leitourgia) (3) Exercising the Ministry of Charity (Diakonia).
C. Pointers for Reflections
- The deep meaning of “Love” is called to be reflected up
The term “Love”, one of the most used and abused words in today’s world.
Sometimes the term “Eros” is completely rejected as being negative, in favour of “Agape”
The Encyclical, however, says that “Eros” – Ascending Love – and “Agape” – Descending Love – can never be separated. The more the two find the correct equilibrium in their different dimensions, the more the true nature of love is realized.
Even if “Eros” is at first mainly desire, in drawing near to the other person it becomes less and less concerned with itself, increasingly seeks the happiness of the other, bestows itself and wants to “be there for” the other. It is then that the element of “Agape” enters into this love.
In Jesus Christ, the “Eros-Agape” reaches its most radical form and this is today to be experienced in the Holy Eucharist
If one wishes to give love, they must also be able to receive love. Yet to become such a source, one must constantly drink anew from the original source – Which is Jesus Christ – from whose pierced heart flows the love of God..
- The Church must display the Love of God through charitable works
The Church is called to proclaim the Word of God, celebrate the Sacraments, and practice the Ministry of Charity – all of which are equally important.
For the Church, charity is not a kind of welfare activity… but is a part of her nature, an indispensable expression of her very being.”
D. What virtues/points can we pick up from “Deus Caritas Est” for this Season of Lent?
- Deepen the conviction of one of the most fundamental truth of our life: God is Love and This Love is lavished upon us, at ALL times and in ALL situations of our life
- All our actions – big or small, duties or volunteering – all should be done “with love and for love”
E. Tips to practice these virtues
- Contemplating more on the powerful aspect that “God is Love and He Loves me just as I am”, so as to do away with a “fearful/punishing” image of God that we have often created in our lives.
- In all the works that we do, consciously offer it to the Lord and say a simple prayer like: “Lord, I do this action for you, with Love. Let all glory be to you!”
May this Lent and the familiarity with the Encyclical “Deus Caritas Est” help us to grow in our acclamation: “Eureka – I have found the Lord”
God Bless! Live Jesus!
Click the following link to read the full text of DEUS CARITAS EST: