Theology of The Body

Theology of The Body is a book of complied catecheses from Blessed Pope John Paul II, delivered during his Wednesday general audiences over a period of five years. These general audiences introduced the faithful to the complete understanding of the human body and it’s significance in God’s divine plan for humanity. First written while he was archbishop of Krakow in Poland, he later revised them and delivered the series as the Bishop of Rome. The catecheses, the most important catechetical project of his pontificate began on September 5th, 1979 and ended on November 24, 1984, when he delivered the 129th and final catechesis, he gave the working title, “theology of the body.” The teachings contained within address the two key questions of “who we are?” and “how are we to live?”

In the foreword of Christopher West’s book, Theology Of The Body Explained, George Weigel, the author of the Servant of God Pope John Paul II’s official biography, Witness To Hope, in describing Theology of The Body is quoted as saying, “The great struggle of the twenty first century, like the twentieth, will be the struggle to defend and promote the dignity of the human person. John Paul II’s “theology of the body” is a tremendous resource for all those who fight that good fight.” In short, Theology of the Body is a presentation of the truth about the body and its significance in God’s divine plan for humanity.

What is the fundamental truth of Theology of the Body? That Christ fully reveals man to himself through the revelation, in his body, the mystery of divine love. The body demonstrates its full God given capability of “making visible what is invisible, the spiritual and the divine.” The Servant of God Pope John Paul II observed that the human body, “has been created to transfer into the visible reality of the world, the mystery hidden from eternity in God, and thus to be a sign of it.” This “hidden mystery in God” is the glory of the trinitarian love and our “supreme calling” to participate in that love. God is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and he has destined us to share in that exchange.

How does the human body “transfer into the visible reality of the world” this divine mystery? It does so through the gift of sexual difference and the call to become “one flesh” (Gen 2:24). This is a great mystery as the author of Ephesians tells us. From the beginning, the male-female communion has been a kind of revelation, an echo in the created order, of trinitarian communion and our destiny to share in that communion through Christ’s spousal relationship with the Church (Eph 5:31-32). Thus, the late pontiff concluded that “man became the image of God not only through his own humanity, but also through the communion of persons, which man and woman form right from the beginning.”

The reading of the Theology of the Body, is a serious endeavour that will take the reader through approximately 650 pages. The introduction alone is 125 pages and like the rest of the works, is a compilation of dense material. The work is indexed and is accompanied by a complete bibliography. Each individual catechesis is approximately 2-5 pages and requires your complete undivided attention to absorb, retain and understand the contents. You may want to consider Christopher West’s, Theology of The Body Explained, before the reading the actual works?