Secular Franciscan Order

Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis

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PRESIDENCY OF THE OFS INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL

 

ONGOING FORMATION PROJECT

 

MONTHLY DOSSIER

FEBRUARY 2013 – YEAR 4 – No.37

DOC)

 

THEOLOGY OF THE BODY

 

by Blessed Pope John Paul II

 

Dossier prepared by the CIOFS Ongoing Formation Team

Ewald Kreuzer, OFS, Coordinator

Lucy Almiranez, OFS

Mike and Jenny Harrington, OFS

 

One of the General Conclusions of the General Chapter in Sao Paulo, Brasil in November 2011, states:

"Young people who are concerned, and rightly so, about the important issue of sexuality, need help from Secular Franciscans. In response, Secular Franciscans must begin by offering a concrete witness to these young people by their way of life. The Chapter suggests that Blessed John Paul II’s writings on The Theology of the Body be included in the formation programs of the OFS and YouFra in order to enable its members to rediscover the beauty of sexuality, marriage, and family, and the living of these gifts according to God's plan."

 

What is the Theology of the Body?

 

The 'Theology of the Body' is Pope John Paul II's integrated vision of the human person - body, soul, and spirit. As he explains, the physical human body has a specific meaning and is capable of revealing answers regarding fundamental questions about us and our lives:

  • Is there a real purpose to life and if so, what is it?
  • Why were we created male and female? Does it really matter if we are one sex or another?
  • Why were man and woman called to communion from the beginning? What does the marital union of a man and woman say to us about God and his plan for our lives?
  • What is the purpose of the married and celibate vocations?
  • What exactly is "Love"?
  • Is it truly possible to be pure of heart?

All of these questions and many more are answered in Pope John Paul II's 129 Wednesday audiences, which were given between the years 1979 and 1984. His reflections are based on Scripture (especially the Gospels, St. Paul and the Book of Genesis), and contain a vision of the human person truly worthy of man. John Paul II discusses who man was in the beginning, who he is now (after original sin), and who he will be in the age to come. He then applies this message to the vocations of marriage and celibacy, in preparation for the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Pope's revolutionary and life-transforming message of hope counteracts societal trends which urge us to view the body as an object of pleasure or as a machine for manipulation. John Paul II portrays a beautiful vision of sexuality in his Theology of the Body and other earlier works including Love and Responsibility. He encourages a true reverence for the gift of our sexuality and challenges us to live it in a way worthy of our great dignity as human persons. His theology is not only for young adults or married couples, but for all ages and vocations since it sums up the true meaning of the human person.

"Brace yourself! If we take in what the Holy Father is saying in his Theology of the Body, we will never view ourselves, view others, view the Church, the Sacraments, grace, God, heaven, marriage, the celibate vocation...we will never view the world the same way again." (Christopher West)

Here we present you the themes of our formation dossiers in this year 2013 (prepared with kind collaboration of Jenny and Mike Harrington, OFS South Africa). We invite you to use these dossiers for your formation work in your frater-nities at all levels. And we will be very pleased if you let us know your experiences with working with our formation dossiers.

 

THEOLOGY OF THE BODY

 

1. Introduction (Pope John Paul 11, Dignity of Human Person, Relationship with Christ - in and through his

body on earth - Incarnation)

2. Back to the beginning – Our Creation (Original Solitude, Original Unity, Original Nakedness, Sincere Gift

of self / Spousal meaning of the Body, Knowledge)

3. The human heart (Original Sin, Concupiscence / lust / shame, Tension / Conflict – human relationships and

created universe, Sermon on the Mount)

4. The Redemption of the Body (Truth and freedom, Self mastery / Purity)

5. The Resurrection of the Body (Our destiny, The Beatific Vision, Communion of saints)

6. Celibacy and Religious life (Vocations)

7. The Sacrament of Marriage

8. Sacramental Sign (Language of the body, Song of Songs, Free, Total, Faithful, Fruitful)

9. Ethics (Humanae Vitae and NFP)

10. Conclusion(s) (Culture of Life, Evangelium Vitae)

 

 

BLESSED JOHN PAUL II

 

Long before he was Pope, Karol Wojtyla was friends with and counselled  hundreds of married couples. He dealt with almost every human struggle in the confessional. His personal experience during the Second World War and Nazism in his youth and early priesthood had a profound influence on his life. Much of his time was spent in thinking writing and reflecting philosophically on the meaning of the human person, the body, love and sexuality. In his book "Love and Responsibility", he says "Man must reconcile  himself to his natural greatness, he must not forget that he is a person". He also states that if love is to be beautiful, if it is to be whole and complete, it must be "fully integrated," meaning it must incorporate incorrect order of priority all the elements of a true love". . "love in the full sense of the word is a virtue, not just an emotion, and still less a mere excitement of the senses".

 

The writings of THEOLOGY OF THE BODY are a fresh and profoundly original approach to the Church’s teaching on love, sex and marriage. This message is countercultural. If we look at the world around us: The philosophy “I can do what I want with my body”,  has led to broken families, a loss of human dignity, lonely individuals and deep moral confusion. We are living in a world saturated with information about sex, it is difficult not to be affected by the barrage of sexual innuendos, messages and images, which are communicated through movies, magazines, TV, billboards and the Internet.

From September 1979 through to November 1984

Pope John Paul II gave a remarkable series of

129 Wednesday audiences devoted to the

THEOLOGY OF THE BODY”,

marriage, and human sexuality.

 

A study of how God reveals his mystery through the human body. A biblical reflection on the meaning of human embodiment as male and female, particularly as it concerns the call of the two to become “one flesh”.

The first targets of the culture of death are the human person, marriage and the family. John Paul II's teachings are a response  that affirm our dignity as a human person and the splendour of  marriage and family. In EVANGELIUM VITAE, he spells out the work of education and the formation of conscience which helps  individuals to be more human, leading them ever more fully to the  truth, with a respect for life and right interpersonal relationships. he says

It is an illusion to think we can build a true culture of human life if we do not help the young to accept and experience sexuality and love and whole of life according to their true meaning and their close inter-connection. (Evangelium Vitae 97)

If we want to discover the real meaning of man and woman, and the reasons why we relate to one another as we do, we need to look,  not only at our psychological makeup or typical behaviour but, what God has revealed about our ultimate origin.

Blessed John Paul has  responded  to society’s chronic confusion about the identity and meaning of the human person, he has  emphasized that the identity and vocation of the human person are fulfilled in and through the total gift of self in love. Gods plan for life and love is so profound and beautiful that once it is revealed to us, we'll never look the same way at a relationship between a man and a woman.

 

 

Questions for reflection:

1. Why do you think Pope John Paul II devoted so much of his energy in writings and teaching on the person,

sexuality, marriage and the family?

2. How could you describe the view of our world today on sexuality and marriage?

3. Why do you think the human person, marriage, and the family are the first targets of the culture of death?

4. How open are you to discussing our sexuality and marital relations within our families?

5. Reflect on your relationship with Jesus Christ in your life and with others.

 

 

References :

'Love and Responsibility' - Fr Karol Wotjyla,  'Man and Woman He Created them' - John Paul II,  www.theologyofthebody.net

'Letter to the familie's - John Paul II, 'Evangelium Vitae' - John Paul II,  'Ubicumque et semper' - Pope Benedict,: -