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Love at the heart of the Mystery of Marriage and the Family
Never as much as during the past several decades has Christian thought so greatly deepened the theological, spiritual and anthropological dimension of human love. If the Church has dedicated much of her reflection on the natural dimension of human love, it is by reason of a profound deficiency that characterizes the two past generations, namely, that they often find themselves within the impossibility of giving a natural clear response to the fundamental questions of human existence, such as the question of love. Within this sphere, the Church today is doing that which no other institution has the capacity to do. By way of fundamental issues, we hear today the many questions at the heart of each man and woman, along with the profound aspirations that remain within them. John Paul II spoke much regarding the fundamental experiences of man, and also at times, what he described as: man’s elementary experiences, which he explained, was the most profound longing at the heart of man: the desire to love, and the desire to be loved. We are in the presence of a cultural context very much marked by a dispersion of values that drives us unmistakably toward individualism. It befits us to be sufficiently realistic in order to analyze with lucidity that which specifies such a cultural conditioning of social life and, in particular, of affective and familial life. This will comprise the first part of this article. We will then look at the impact of these ideas on marriage and the family today. Finally, in the midst of alternatives concerning the breakdown of conjugal and familial units (which has its origin on the misconception of love), I will present an exposition of the vision of John Paul II and Benedict XVI on love, to enable us to appreciate love in its true glory.