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Pure in Heart Talk: Overview of the Theology of the Body and Each Person's Need for Communion

Pure in Heart Talk: Overview of the Theology of the Body and Each Person's Need for Communion

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The second talk given at the Pure in Heart Retreat in Carlingford, Ireland, Ocober 19-21, 2012.
The second talk given at the Pure in Heart Retreat in Carlingford, Ireland, Ocober 19-21, 2012.

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Categories:Types, Speeches
Published by: Fr Samuel Medley SOLT on Oct 21, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The Most Holy Trinity: Communio,Friendship, Family, and Community Life
 Foundational Principles of the Theology of the Body
 What is the Theology of the Body?
The TOB is a series of 129 Wednesday Audiences given during the first six yearsof his pontificate. He said that it is biblical reflection on the theological meaning of the human body.
Corrected Translation
When it was originally delivered there were a total of six different intermittenttranslators and the was a lack of consistency in the use of key terms. For example,the pivotal term, “Spousal Meaning of the Body” was translated 7 different ways:nuptial meaning, nuptial significance, matrimonial significance, conjugal meaning,conjugal significance, spousal significance, and finally spousal meaning. Because it was translated piecemeal, week by week, the original titles and structure of the holy father was lost. Michael Waldstein in recent years has published a correctedtranslation in which the original Polish manuscript was consulted and matched along with the official Italian text and because the holy father was still alive at the time, he was personally consulted in the process. The best translation to use is called, “Manand Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body” translated by Michael Waldstein that came out in 2006.As we know, a “General Audience” is the genre by which the Insegnamentiseries identifies the regular Wednesday discourses of the sovereign Pontiff. Theseare catecheses, which as Vatican II in Christus Dominus stated, has “pride of place”for a bishop, especially for the bishop of Rome. Because the intended audience is theChurch universal, we must pay attention to how these teachings ought to be received by the faithful, especially by the authenticated teachers of the faith, bishops and theirco-workers, the priests. It can be said that since the Pope speaks to the universalChurch, in the form of teaching central to his office of bishop, on a topic that regardsfaith and morals, that the TOB must be received with “religious submission of mindand will.”The holy Father recognizes that “Scripture is the soul of sacred theology” andthe TOB is merely reflections or a commentary on what the scriptures mean withregard to our bodies. The holy father interpret scripture in a very full sense: in boththe literal and spiritual senses, using historical and cultural human hagiographersand their intention in writing to penetrate deeper into the allegorical, moral,anagogical senses of the Word of God. With a lively faith, the holy father tells us thatthe TOB is really a living encounter with Jesus, who has a living dialogue with eachperson about their body. It is the voice of the Master that one ought to hear whenreading the TOB, for it is the same voice that can be heard in the depths of thehuman heart making the TOB a very personal experience and encounter with God inone’s own body.
There are two major divisions of the TOB, the are divided very much like theMass. Part One: the Words of Christ and Part Two: the Sacrament. The first part isthen divided what the holy father calls a tryptych - three parts that all compose onekind of picture. The way I like to explain this part is by an analogy of a lifeexperience that happened to me when I was training boy scouts how to use a mapand compass. Three small scouts and myself were in a kind of swampy forest andthey were asked to find there way to the other side. I showed them where thestarting point and the ending point were and they began the trek. It wasn’t soon before they were lost. They began to panic when I asked them three simplequestions: Where did we come from? Where are we going? Where are we now?They began to look at the topographical signs, hills, streams, and it wasn’t long before they were able to triangulate where we were. The theology of the body is likethis. The first part shows where we come from: Christ appeals to the beginning. Thesecond part is where we are now: Christ appeals to the human heart - this is man’ssituation in history. The third part is where we are going: Christ appeals to theresurrection - the eternal destiny of our bodies in the glory of God. You could alsosay that this is a kind of trinitarian triangulation that Christ has with each person.He shows them that the Father has created them “in Christ before the world began”revealing to them the primordial meaning of the body that are revealed by our firstparents. Then Christ shows them that he knows exactly where they are right now inthe state of fallen man, battling with concupiscience and their own personal tendency toward sin calling man to fight the battle of redemption for his body. Finally heshows the distance between who the Father created them to be and exactly wherethey are at right now - to reveal the Holy Spirit filling in this gap and calling them totheir eschatological destination.The second part is really about the Great Sacrament, the Magnum Mysterium of Christ and in two parts: the dimension of the covenant of God with Man as arevelation of the dimension of the conjugal covenant of Christian marriage and thesecond part that is a discussion of the rite of holy matrimony, a kind of liturgicalexegesis on the dimension of the sacramental sign and what it means. After all this,then the very tail end the holy father is ready to talk about Humanae Vitae and thiscomposes the last part of the work.Let me share here what Cardinal Schönborn said where the three majorcontributions of Bl Pope John Paul in the Theology of the Body:1. The image of God is found in man and woman above all in the communion between them, which reflects the communion of love between the persons of the Trinity 2.In God’s design, the spousal union of man and woman is the original effectivesign through which holiness entered the world.3.This visible sign of marriage “in the beginning” is connected with the visiblesign of Christ’s spousal love for the Church and is thus the foundation of the whole sacramental order
In the Beginning
We begin with the conversation Jesus has with the Pharisees in Matthew 19, where he says that Moses permitted divorce because of our hardness of heart, but inthe beginning it was not so. Here we enter into dialogue with Jesus who walks usthrough primordial man, the first few chapters of Genesis. Here the pope gives oneof his greatest insights to the TOB and really to his papacy and our epoch we live innow: man is created in the image and likeness of God for communion not only withGod, but to live out this communion with God in communion with each other,particularly in the one-man and one-woman union. Now the old penny catechismasks the question, “Is the image and likeness of God primarily in the body or in thesoul?In the soul is the answer. This notion of man and woman’s union does notchange that but only shows that it is not only in the soul, but a communion of body and soul, primarily of the soul. I say this because some people struggleunderstanding what appears to be a redefinition or shift of Christian doctrine, whenin reality it is only a deepening. Animals live a male-female union and if we reducethis to a bodily union we might as well say that they live in the image and likeness of God the same way we do, but the holy father is referring her to the union of the wholeperson, body, soul, and spirit. Just as the Father and Son love each other and thename of that Love is called the Holy Spirit, man and woman love one another infruitful communion and bear life that becomes another human person.Then the holy father takes us on a journey through the second account of creation that shows man’s original experience of his own body first through hissolitude, elevation above visible creation, awareness of his own self-consciousnessand self-determination, and that he finds that no other creature can satisfy his needfor communion. Then when God creates for him his other self, i.e. for woman hediscovers the love of God realized in the gift woman and sees himself as a gift to her,discovers his own complimentarity, and find himself in a communion of persons.Next the holy father talks about man’s primordial experience of his body as naked without shame before God and before woman, with complete openness and vulnerability.This leads us to another key topic in the TOB: the Spousal Meaning of the Body,that the body itself is revealed as a gift to the other, man can only find this meaningand love in a disinterested gift of self to the other. The Spousal Meaning of the Body “constitutes the fundamental component of human existence in the world” and isexpressed either in the conjugal covenant of marriage or in the gift of oneself for theKingdom of heaven.
Christ Appeals to the Human Heart
The next section is based on Christ’s comments in the sermon on the mount,“You have heard it said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you, whoeverlooks at a woman to desire her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”Here Jesus shows that he “knows what is in man” and that he knows exactly whatman is going through. The value of this chapter is this: exactly as you are right now,Jesus knows and accepts where you are and if you are honest with him and yourself he is willing to take upon your misery and transform it for his glory. Jesus loves youas you are! He knows and understands you. This is of the utmost importance for what the holy father says next - to recover this interior glance of the heart so that it

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