I explored Eros in the physical sexual love in marriage in the first part of this article on Eros. Now I want to turn to the concept of Eros in the spiritual romantic love
Part Two: Eros in the Single Life
This concept of a ManHusbandDad sacrificially (Agape) offering of himself in prayer to Jesus, can also be connected to single life. There are situations when a man is not supposed to marry the woman he loves, because God is calling the man and the woman to living a vocation that does not include their marriage together. For example, the woman that a man loves romantically, may not desire to marry the man who is interested in her, not because she is against a romantic relationship, but because she feels Christ is calling her to consecrated life (consecrated virgin single life, or consecrated virgin religious life), putting a “monkey wrench” in the man’s desires to marry his beloved. The man may, after being “rejected” by his beloved, discern and discover that God’s will for him is to remain a layperson, and be a celibate too, despite his own desires to be married to the woman who joined consecrated life (consecrated virgin single life, or consecrated virgin religious life). Although the man in my following example may not be sacramentally married to the woman he loves, even in single life, he can still live out this romantic love (Eros) for the woman he wished he could have married, but in a spiritual, non-physical way. The vocation of single life can still be a vocation of Eros- but in indirect ways, if it is centered on Agape. It is important to mention, that the spiritual form of Eros would be inappropriate if it is used for a man who is ordained a priest, or a religious brother. The spiritual form of Eros is only appropriate for a man who is a layperson. It must also be stressed, that the spiritual form of Eros in single life, should always be guided by a spiritual director, in order to guarantee that one’s desires do not turn into lust, and that there are proper boundaries which protect the individual vocations between the single celibate man, and woman in consecrated life (consecrated virgin single life, or consecrated virgin religious life).
Scripture shows us the importance of sacrificial love, by declaring in John 15: 13, that: “No one has greater love than this to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” We usually think of a bloody martyrdom, maybe taking a bullet, when we hear this quote; but it also has a second meaning, which is the concept of offering yourself as a living sacrifice for another to God, through prayer, good deeds, and virtuous living. Romans 12:1 expands upon this concept, by declaring: “I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.“
In the service vocation of marriage, there are two aspects of romantic love; physical and spiritual. The physical dimension of Eros is the sexual realm, and the spiritual aspect deals in the area of sacrificial love (Agape). Those men who are called to remain single, and were not called to experience the physical aspect of Eros (physical love making) in marriage, can still live out romantic love, but in a spiritual way. By doing things, such as prayer and service, a single man is living out the spiritual form of Eros, and joining deeply into the physical sacrificial passion of Christ.
The concept of a ManHusbandDad remaining single because his beloved was called to a different vocation, is rife throughout history, such as Dolores Hart, and her fiancé Don Robinson. Dolores, a famous 20th Century actress, discerned God’s calling for her to leave her acting career, becoming a Benedictine nun, and by doing so, ended her engagement to Don, an architect. Don was understandably heartbroken over the news that Dolores would not marry him, and took a while to handle the reality that Dolores would never be his wife. Don eventually accepted Dolores’ discernment, that God had called her to the consecrated virgin religious life vocation (i.e., a nun). As the years went by, Don remained single, and devoted his time and energy to helping out Dolores’ monastery, and the projects of his former fiancée, now Mother Dolores Hart. We do not know if Don prayed for his beloved, but we do know that he did live out the spiritual form of romantic love, by serving the Lord through serving the monastery.
Since all love comes from God, and we are made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1: 27), we must always look to the source of where true romantic love comes from. For a ManHusbandDad to be a holy instrument of sacrificial romantic love, he must love Jesus Christ first. If a ManHusbandDad loves his beloved first over Christ, that relationship (physical or spiritual) will most certainly not be what it should be and can be, and most likely will fail. The more a layman loves Jesus, the more he will love his beloved. Also, a layman (married or single) needs to always remember, that romantic love is more than just a sexual feeling towards a beautiful woman, but is a decision to remain faithful to one’s beloved; in good times, and in bad times. A great way for a ManHusbandDad to make sure that his Eros is properly ordered to Christ, and is a sacrificial offering that will sanctify his beloved, and produce fruit (children [physical] or [spiritual]), is to look to the Eucharist. It is at the Mass where we encounter true intimacy this side of Heaven, and have the capabilities to give our hearts and desires to Christ in a powerful way. Additionally, Eucharistic Adoration purifies a ManHusbandDad, and enables him to offer his beloved in loving prayer that is sacrificial, even more, to Jesus Christ.
[Editor’s note: As a compendium to this article, Nick has provided some prayer ideas here.]
May every ManHusbandDad live out Eros by centering his desires to the crucified Christ.