After several months, I have finally finished reading Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body (663 Pages). In this post I am going to give a brief summary using quotes from JPII himself, and encourage you all to read Theology of the Body when you get the chance. If you do not have the time to read the entire book, I highly encourage you to at least read Christoper West's commentary on the pope's masterpiece: Theology of the Body Explained and if you have teenage children I highly recommend that you have them watch the EWTN series Theology of the Body For Teens.
Pope JPII started these talks back in 1980 in large part as a commentary on Pope Paul VI's Humane Vitae. Humane Vitae was met with outrage by many who found it to be working against progress, but Pope Paul VI confirmed the truth consistently taught by the Church about the human person and human sexuality. I have not yet read Humane Vitae, but it is on my short list of things to read next. I will probably take a short brake from reading, but I plan on starting my next book soon. My dad says that he likes to read one fiction book during the summer. I think that is a good idea. It is good to read important non-fiction books, but it is also good to let your mind wonder in a fictional book occasionally. The fictional book I have in mind does still contain spiritual content however. I will unveil my next book reading very soon. I will also be reading the pope's newly released encyclical: Charity in Truth. I have started reading it and read some summaries of the encyclical and I am VERY excited about what I read. I think this encyclical is exactly what the world needs to reflect on in this present day. I think it should provide many answers to some of the toughest questions we face today.
Below are some quotes from Theology of the Body that conclude Pope JPII's reflections. He can sum it up much better than I ever could. May we never forget the wisdom JPII shed in Theology of the Body. This message of Truth is not reserved for theologians and ministers, it is a message for all of us. It is a response to the questions of the lay faithful and modern civilization. I believe that the fact that JPII spoke to a general audience in his talks on the theology of the body speaks volumes about the widespread importance of the message and to his outreach and effort to spread the Truth to all people. He knows that an ignorant lay faithful would destroy the Church family and damage the Church as a whole. May we all proclaim and share the message of Truth to all whether they are willing to listen or not. God bless you all!
General Audience of November 28, 1984
"THE WHOLE OF THE CATECHESES that I began more than four years ago...are divided into two parts. The first part is devoted to the analysis of the words of Christ. We analyzed these words at length in the wholeness of the Gospel text. There is first of all the text in which Christ appeals 'to the beginning' in the dialogue with the Parisees about the unity and indissolubility of marriage (see Mt 19:8; Mk 10:6-9). Continuing on, there are the words Christ spoke in the Sermon on the Mount about 'concupiscence' as 'adultery committed in the heart' (see Mt 5:28). Finally, there are the words transmitted by all the Synoptics in which Christ appeals to the resurrection of the body in the 'other world' (see Mt 22:30; Mk 12:25; Lk 20:35-36). The second part of the catechesis is devoted to the analysis of the sacrament based on Ephesians (Eph 5:22-33), which goes back to the biblical 'beginning' of marriage expressed in the words of Genesis, 'a man will leave his father an his mother and unite with his wife, and the two will be one flesh' (Gen 2:24)."
"We continually went back to the reflections on the theology of the body that were linked with the key words of Christ. We went back to these reflections also by carring out, at the end of this whole cycle of cateceses, the analysis of Humane Vitae. The doctrine contained in this document of the Church's contemporaary teaching remains in organic relation both with the sacramentality of marriage and the whole biblical problematic of the theology of the body, which is centered on the 'key words' of Christ. In some sense, one can even say that all the reflections... (are) an extensive commentary on the doctrine contained precisely in Humanae Vitae. Such a commentary seems very necessary. In giving an answer to some questions of today in the sphere of conjugal and family morality, the encyclical, in fact, also raised other questions, as we know, of a bio-medical nature. However, the questions are also (and first of all) of a theological nature. The reflections carried out consist in facing the questions raised about Humane Vitae. The reaction the encyclical stirred up confirms the importance and difficulty of these questions. To take up questions raised by the encyclical means to formulate them and at the same time to seek an answer to them. The teaching contained in Familiaris Consortio, fruit of the 1980 Synod of Bishops, asks that both the formulation of the questions and the search for an appropriaate answer concentrate on the biblical and personalistic aspects." (Theology of the Body follows these guidelines)
"The rooting of the teaching proclaimed by the Church in the whole Tradition an in divine revelation itself is always open to the questions raised by people and also uses the instruments most in keeping with modern science and today's culture. The analysis of the personalistic aspects contained in this document has an existential meaning for establishing what true progress consists in, that is, the development of the human person. In contemporary civilization as a whole-especially in Western civilization- there exists, in fact, a hidden and at the same time rather explicit tendency to measure this progress with the measure of 'things,' that is, of material goods."
"The analysis of the personalistic aspects of the Church's teaching contained in Paul VI's encyclical highlights a resolute appeal to measure man's progress with the measure of the 'person,' that is, of that which is a good of man, which corresponds to his essential dignity. The analysis of the personalistic aspects leads to the conviction that the fundamental problem the encyclical presents is the viewpoint of the authentic development of the human person; such development should be measurered, as a matter of principle, by the measure of ethics and not only of 'technology."
"The most important aspect seems to be the essential aspect that, in the whole of the reflections carried out, one can specify as follows: to face the questions raised by Humanae Vitae above all in theology, to formulate these questions, and to look for an answer to them, one must find that biblical, theological sphere to which we allude when we speak about the 'redemption of the body and the sacramentality of marriage.' It is in this sphere that one finds the answers to the perennial questions of the conscience of men and women and also to the difficult questions of the conscience of our contemporary world concerning marriage and procreation.