Catholic Quotes to Know

Gillian Weyant

10 Catholic Quotes on Love You Really Should Know

In a society that aches with man’s fallen nature, it is towards the fundamental theological virtue that we must turn: love.  Through this, we may learn to be a presence of Christ in the world to others.  Here are ten thought-provoking Catholic quotes on love from authors, thinkers, saints and popes, all of whom have had beautiful and profound insights into this virtue. 

1. “I know, my soul, that while you are loving anything, you are transformed into its likeness.”– Hugh of St. Victor

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This sentiment calls to mind the importance of what we love in our Christian lives.  Although it may seem harmless at first to dwell on insignificant pleasures, especially in terms of material goods and entertainment, Hugh of St. Victor allows us to see that loving these things excessively makes us shallow and causes apathy towards the truth of Christ.  When loving anything, it is of great importance to the state of our souls that we love things because of the image of God they possess within them.

2. “Why, then, do you wander wide, poor child of earth, in your search after goods for body and soul? Love the One Good, in whom all good things are, and it is enough. For what do you love, O my flesh? What do you desire, O my soul? There it is, there it is: whatever you love, whatever you desire.” – St. Anselm

St. Anselm here presents the idea that things on earth are truly lovable because they are intrinsically good, and what is good is good only because it is the work of God.  Consequently, all of the things we love on earth are contained in indescribable greatness in God.  Even our most basic desires and loves, such as the desire for friendship or the love of a beautiful view in nature, show us what we truly long for: perfect happiness in the Beatific Vision.

3. “Everything that is done out of Love acquires greatness and beauty.” – St. Josemaria Escriva

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In “The Way,” a conversational and thought-provoking work brimming with wisdom, St. Josemaria Escriva often advocates directing daily life and mundane activities towards the glory of God.  This particular quote of his, though it might initially appear too brief to be of great consequence, in fact describes one of the magnificent truths of the Christian life.  Although we may not stumble upon visibly extraordinary opportunities to grow in holiness in our lives, we can perform even the most banal and routine actions of our day-to-day lives with great love for God, and use these actions to grow in our own holiness and love.

4. “To maintain any thread in the novel there must be a view of the world behind it & the most important single item under this view of the world is conception of love—divine, natural, & perverted. It is probably possible to say that when a view of love is present—a broad enough view—no more need be added to make the world view.” – Flannery O’Connor

O’Connor’s discussion of the components of a good story strikes to the heart of the Christian life.  The world’s narrative is conducted entirely through love, namely the three which she addresses: divine, natural and perverted.  These three types of love correspond to three facets of humanity.  Divine love corresponds to the existence of the soul, natural love corresponds to the union of the soul and body, and perverted love corresponds to the existence of original sin, which takes what was once perfect and good and twists it away from the truth.

5. “Death and love are the two wings that bear the good man to heaven.”  – Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni

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The juxtaposition of death and love can be seen in two ways.  In the first way, love and death are opponents and represent the age-old dichotomy of Christianity: good as opposed to evil, Christ as opposed to the devil, sin as opposed to virtue.  In the second way, however, death and love work with one another to lead us closer to God.  When we consider that Christ overcame death with His Resurrection, death becomes not our opponent, but rather the way in which we can attain heaven.

6. “Once a person learns to read the signs of love and thus to believe it, love leads him into the open field wherein he himself can love. If the prodigal son had not believed that the father's love was already waiting for him, he would not have been able to make the journey home - even if his father's love welcomes him in a way he never would have dreamed of. The decisive thing is that the sinner has heard of a love that could be, and really is, there for him; he is not the one who has to bring himself into line with God; God has always already seen in him, the loveless sinner, a beloved child and has looked upon him and conferred dignity upon him in the light of this love.”― Hans Urs von Balthasar

The journey of the prodigal son shows the infusion of grace in the Christian life. Although we would not be able to reach happiness (both earthly and eternal) by our actions alone, when we are given the grace of Christ, we are brought to a level of dignity impossible without grace.  This grace illuminates our earthly lives, ennobles our human actions, and exalts them by causing them to become means of obtaining eternal life.

7. “Love—caritas—will always prove necessary, even in the most just society. There is no ordering of the State so just that it can eliminate the need for a service of love. Whoever wants to eliminate love is preparing to eliminate man as such. There will always be suffering which cries out for consolation and help. There will always be loneliness. There will always be situations of material need where help in the form of concrete love of neighbor is indispensable.  – Pope Benedict XVI

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Pope Benedict’s words in his encyclical Deus Caritas Est, though written over ten years ago, are timelessly true.  Especially in the present day, when threats of terrorism abound both globally and within the United States, how best to love our neighbor is a difficult question.  How can we remain hopeful and loving when our brothers and sisters in Christ are countries away and some of them seek only to cause hurt? Pope Benedict’s sentiment addresses the truth of the constant presence of hurt in the world—an inevitable result of the fall of Adam and Eve—yet states the beautiful and hopeful truth of the necessity of caritas.

8. “Love is not blind; that is the last thing that it is. Love is bound; and the more it is bound the less it is blind.” – G.K. Chesterton

G.K. Chesterton here addresses a central idea of the Catholic faith, which is one that often falls to the wayside in a self-seeking society.  This idea is that to be truly free, one must be anchored to something greater than the self, namely God.  Many members of secular society fundamentally disagree with this idea, as they would have us believe that being truly free necessitates being completely autonomous.  However, as Catholics, we see that we can only fulfill our end as members of creation by loving and serving the God who created us.  This love that we should have for God is not blind or self-seeking; rather, it is the love that truly sets us free and allows us to rejoice in being bound to a loving God.

9. “Man becomes an image of God not so much in the moment of solitude as in the moment of communion.” – Pope St. John Paul II

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This communion which is mentioned by Pope St. John Paul II refers specifically to the communion of husband and wife, but may also be applied to the communion of the members of the Church.  When these members join together with a foundation of love, they truly are an image of Christ in the unity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Thus, man’s final end as an image of God can only be fulfilled by a communion of love.

10. “For a long time I felt remorse when I thought of Maximilian. By allowing myself to be saved, I had signed his death warrant. But now, on reflection, I understood that a man like him could not have done otherwise. Perhaps he thought that as a priest his place was beside the condemned men to help them keep hope. In fact he was with them to the last.” – Franciszek Gajowniczek

Franciszek Gajowniczek may be an unfamiliar name initially, but as a person he is recognized by many Catholics: Gajowniczek was the man whose place in an Auschwitz execution was taken by St. Maximilian Kolbe.  This event, tragic though it was, is also a beautiful image of Christ sacrificing himself on the cross.  St. Maximilian acted out of love to the extent of laying down his life for another man, exemplifying the words of the Gospel of John: “Greater love hath no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  Though we may not come across such an intense opportunity to exhibit charity towards one another, let us be inspired by St. Maximilian’s love and selflessness, and put it to work in every instance we can in our daily lives.

What quotes on love are we missing? Leave a comment below!