In the opening words of his first encyclical, God Is Love, Pope Benedict XVI quotes words from the First Letter of John, which he says are a kind of summary of the Christian life: "We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us" (4:16). Coming to believe in God’s love, says the pope, describes the fundamental decision of our life.
This is not as easy as it sounds. There is love, and there is love. Someone has said that love is divided into three types: “because of” love, “if” love, and “in spite of” love. The first of these says something like “I love you because you are so beautiful” or “because you have done something for me.” The second says, “I love you in the hope of what you can do for me or be for me.” Many marriages are founded on one of these two types of love or a combination. These kinds of love are obviously very fragile and can fade when the circumstances change: you are no longer so beautiful, or you are not what I hoped you would be.
The third type of love says, “I love you for yourself, and this will not change…
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