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Catholic Dictionary




The most distinctively Christian form of love. Used by Christ to describe the love among the persons of the Trinity, it is also the love he commanded his followers to have for one another (John 13:34-35). It is totally selfless love, which seeks not one' own advantage but only to benefit or share with another.

As a proper noun, Agape is the so-called love feast celebrated in the early Church (I Corinthians 11:20-22, 33-34). At first these were often joined with the Eucharistic liturgy but in time were separated from the Mass because of the disorder and scandal they provoked. Legislation against the Agape was passed by the Council of Carthage (397), and by the eighth century the practice disappeared. Since the Second Vatican Council a limited use of the Agape had been encouraged (Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People, 8). (Etym. Greek agap_, love.)