eros love

Pax! Sometimes the saints speak loving Christ with eros love. If Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, would do so it would be strange. A mother doesn’t love a son that way, How would a theologian answer this? Has the Church been writing aboutthis?

Do you have a saint’s reference for this? Or did you stumble on it somewhere on the web. I don’t believe a saint would have used that particular word, since it is the root of “erotic” love, a sensual connotation. Agape, perhaps, would be a wiser choice.

Not sure if this will help, but “eros” and “agape” are both talked about quite a bit in the encyclical letter, Deus Caritas Est.

Not just that, St. John of the Cross framed man’s desire for God as eros.

:hmmm:As a Carmelite, I am constantly referring to St. John of the Cross’s writings, but I never saw him use that terminology. Do you have a reference?

BTW, I saw the earlier post that claimed John referred to desire as eros, but the poster did not give a solid reference, other than to post one of his poems, which did not use that phrasing.

CS Lewis’ The Four Loves explains why Eros is more appropriate in describing the love of God than say, Friendship, though he writes that Friendship is the more spiritual love of the two. We may associate ‘erotic’ with Eros, but in fact sex is a small part of Eros and can be present without the Love of Eros.

Human spousal love is an imitation of the live of God for Man, Man for God, and Christ for His Church. It is our limited capacity to understand that provokes the response that Eros cannot be divine love. If anything it should give us pause to think why we have that response.

I think that’s a misconception based on a superficial reading of his commentary on the Canticles. :slight_smile:

Eros means desire. Eros is the love which desires the other for the self, as opposed to agape which is love that gives self to the other. Eros draws the one who is loved toward the one who loves. Agape gives the one who loves outward to the one who is loved. The idea of eros or spousal love between the believer and Christ is not foreign to Christianity. Just open the Bible…

*O that you would kiss me with the kisses of your mouth!
For your love is better than wine,
your anointing oils are fragrant,
your name is oil poured out;
therefore the maidens love you.

(Song 1:2)

O that his left hand were under my head,
and that his right hand embraced me!

(Song 8:3)*

St. Bernard of Blairvaux wrote extensively about this desire and gave a very famous series of sermons about the Song of Songs on this very topic. You can read them at

Erotic love has a strong sexual connotation in our modern culture but sexual desire is actually only a small part of erotic love. Erotic love is simply the love of desire. The union spoken of is completely spiritual, not corporeal, and so it is not sexual, yet it is the desire for union as two spouses are united in matrimony. It is often expressed in terms of the passion of desire between lovers. St. Therese of Avila expressed her desire for God in these terms. Many Benedictine and Cistercian monastic women expressed this desire for union in nuptial or spousal terms. Hadewijch of Antwerep was one. Gertrude the Great was another. These women were mystics.

***Ah! O love, dulcet in your kiss, you are that fountain for which I thirst. Behold, my heart seethes for you; if only, if you, a full ocean, would absorb me, and ordinary drop, into yourself. You are my soul’s living and most dulcet entrance, through which there may be an exit for me from myself into you. **

  • Gertrude, Exercises 5.216-24 *

St. Theresa wrote…

I gave myself to Love Divine,
And lo! my lot so changed is
That my Beloved One is mine
And I at last and surely His.

When the sweet Huntsman from above
First wounded me and left me prone,
Into the very arms of Love
My stricken soul forthwith was thrown.

There was a petite little Dominican Sister at my daughter’s school who gave a talk to the second grade parents of children receiving their first communion. She stopped part way through, started to stammer, got flush and red in the face, and started fanning herself. She apologized that she sometimes gets overcome with emotion when she thinks about the Eucharist.

Most of this type of writing comes from women, for obvious reasons, who experienced strong feelings of nuptial union strongest right after receiving the Eucharist. We don’t hear it from men as much. The Benedictine and Cistercian nuns of the 13th century are famous for it.


Obviously men don’t write about loving Jesus with eros. If Jesus had been a woman then maybe.

  1. One dark night,
  fired with love's urgent longings
    -- ah, the sheer grace! -- 
  I went out unseen,
  my house being now all stilled.
  2. In darkness, and secure,
	by the secret ladder, disguised,
   -- ah, the sheer grace! -- 
  in darkness and concealment,
  my house being now all stilled.
  3. On that glad night,
	in secret, for no one saw me,
  nor did I look at anything,
  with no other light or guide
  than the one that burned in my heart.
  4. This guided me
   	more surely than the light of noon
  to where he was awaiting me
   -- him I knew so well -- 
  there in a place where no one appeared.
  5. O guiding night!
	O night more lovely than the dawn!
  O night that has united
  the Lover with his beloved,
  transforming the beloved in her Lover.
  6. Upon my flowering breast
	which I kept wholly for him alone,
  there he lay sleeping,
  and I caressing him
  there in a breeze from the fanning cedars.
  7. When the breeze blew from the turret,
	as I parted his hair,
	it wounded my neck
  with its gentle hand,
  suspending all my senses.
  8. I abandoned and forgot myself,
	laying my face on my Beloved;
  all things ceased; I went out from myself,
  leaving my cares
  forgotten among the lilies.


Could Mary experience eros for Christ even of she was the Mother of God?

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