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(meets at Pauline Books & Media, Chicago, SECOND Wednesday of the month, 6:30—8:30)
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We are using the JP2G's revised text: "Male and Female He Created Them—a Theology of the Body"
Notes will always be posted on www.hellburns.blogspot.com. Just look for post "Theology of the Body" each month.
(We're skipping the lengthy Introduction and going directly to the text. These notes cover the first 15 pages of the text.)
NB: "Man"=male and female
[Sr. Helena's superfluous comments are in brackets]
[online comments are bold]
NOW, HERE'S FATHER LOYA:
The fundamental essence of human existence is the male/female difference—JP2G.
p. 105 of the Introduction at the top is a summary of the purpose of TOB.
The Eastern Church is the feminine complement to the Western, more "masculine "Church. JP2G says we need to "breathe with both lungs," that is, we need to enrich each other: the Eastern and Western Church. [Recommended reading: "The Light of the East (Orientale Lumen)"—encyclical of JP2G]
The text of TOB is dense, spiral, phenomenological. It's not linear. It's like watching a leaf float around and then land. It lands then on the irrefutable truth after having examined everything else.
We need our "sacramental glasses" to see the world. We need to see the way Adam and Eve originally saw. Science is great, but a scientific worldview began to debase the physical and enshrine the spiritual/mental. Science was able to dominate the physical and manipulate it, so we began looking differently at the physical, including ourselves, each other.
Christ takes us back to the very beginning. Not a bunch of rules, but a vision of the human person. He took us to who we are as human beings, who we are as man and woman. [Before there were houses, cars, hospitals, X-box, etc., there was just Adam and Eve, naked.]
The first account (Elohist) of Creation is very direct: what does it mean to be human. That's what we're missing today. Paul VI knew we were missing this. In "Humanae Vitae" he said we need a total vision of man. A mystical vision. "Mystical" means the MOST real vision/truth. [Therefore, mystics are hard-core realists!] The only honest thing we can say about being human is that we are made in the image of God. Everything else is an intrusion. A lie. We always say when we mess up: "I'm only human." But the exact opposite is true! We were created to NOT sin! The second account (Yahwist) of Creation is what JP2G uses more. He uses the subjective approach because people today don't accept objective accounts of the truth.
#4, p. 135—"impossibility of reducing man to the 'world.'" Man is more than material. He is also identified with something invisible. "The truth about man refers to the male as much as to the female." Man is defined primarily as metaphysical.
Scientific mindset emphasizes the rational=what is measurable, seen.
[At the end of the movie "Expelled"—I have some philosophical problems with the movie, but it's a must-see—Ben Stein makes a very good point. The atheistic scientists keep saying "we can't see God," and Ben says, "maybe He is right in front of us, in the things science investigates (the material world) and we're missing it." This is exactly what TOB is saying—with the help of Revelation, of course.]
We're great at thinking and talking about body and soul separately. E.g., we say: "I want to save my soul." But it's the whole person, body and soul that will be saved! What has become foreign to us is body and soul TOGETHER. This is what "THEOLOGY OF THE BODY means." We are embodied spirits, not a body and a spirit. They are distinct, but inseparable. The separation of the two is DEATH, a "cosmic obscenity"—Peter Kreeft. We are a composite. Anything that separates body and soul has to do with sin. Death is a perversion, it was never meant to be. It's just the worst thing—words can't even express the horror.
[A very intelligent friend of mine, a devout Catholic who was at a think-tank at Stanford, doesn't like the term "Theology of the Body" because she says it literally means: "The Study of God of the Body." I like it precisely because that's what it means. God is certainly of the body! The WORD became FLESH. Forever! All praise to Jesus Christ!]
We think of heaven as our soul floating around. No! Body and soul together in heaven or hell, transfigured (not exactly the same as we are now). The Resurrected Jesus walked through doors, but also could let Thomas put his hand in His side. That's how our bodies will be.
Transfiguration: Jesus showed Peter, James and John what it really meant to be human. He showed them their destiny—to shine brilliantly! And the Apostles loved it. ("Can we stay here?") Our Lady, because she has no sin, went to heaven body and soul intact (as Adam and Eve would have and we would have if we had not sinned). The Eastern Church calls the end of Mary's earthly life "The Dormition," sleep, but not exactly. Like when Eve was created out of Adam—Adam was in an ecstatic state/trance.
The fact that Catholics don't understand the destiny of the body is why JP2G wrote TOB! Who the heck are we? We aren't totally Catholic in our ethos if we don't capiche who we are, body and soul! The indissoluble bond of marriage is not a rule, it's fundamental to the identity of being human. We were created as beings who unite with another being. How do we know? Because our bodies say it! The first words of Adam were this Shakespearean ode at the very sight of woman: "This at last is bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh!" Adam learned the meaning of being human by looking at the woman. They were naked and they could see that they were designed for each other. And so we do what God did to us: we enter into what the Trinity is doing—a loving union/community of persons.
"The beginning," gives us a solid basis for metaphysics, anthropology and ethics (which cover everything). [It's all there in Genesis. It has been said that if we lost the Bible and only retained Genesis 3:15, the "Proto-evangelium" or "First Gospel," we would have the essentials! The promise of a Redeemer! See footnote #7, p. 143-144]
[Recommended reading "The Beginning of Wisdom—Reading Genesis" by Jewish "saint," M.D., and bio-ethicist, U. of Chicago's Leon Kass. Check him out on Wikipedia.]
The subjective brings us to the objective. It's a different way to get to the same truth.
God goes out of Himself while staying within Himself. He is always in intimacy. We are called to intimacy, also. How do we know that? Our bodies say it: "I want intimacy! I want intimacy!" We do what God does: He unites Himself intimately with His Bride and that brings life.
We don't have to be told anything, just experience, but REALLY experience TOTALLY life in our bodies!
Let's level the playing field: we all have bodies that all speak the same language! Intimacy, union, communion! Then: life! TOB is simple! God is simple! Complexity is of the devil! [Laborious and perplexed is the face of schemer." Perplex rhymes with complex.] After the Fall, life got really, really complicated. Life had been so simple and happy: walking around "life-ing" out! They were naked. Now we have to shop, get into fashion, etc. [We love the complexity now! Eek!]
It's actually SEXUALITY THAT MAKES US MOST LIKE GOD!! Why? Because it's the fundamental way we give and receive love. Adam and Eve looked at each others' body as revealing God, as holy, as good. That's why they had no shame. [The sexual difference is only mentioned in the creation of man, not of animals, even though both are told to be fruitful and multiply.]
We call all the lies about ourselves "normal." But to be "without sin" is to be a "NORMAL human being." The Virgin Mary was normal. We're not. Why do we love JP2G so much? Because he was an ordinary human being. That's who the saints are: normal or approaching normalcy: "ordinary" human beings.
Original innocence is gone forever, but we have to reach back and regain some of the vision. Jesus has us look back and then takes us FORWARD to our destiny, a greater destiny than if we hadn't fallen.
The redemption of the person will come through the redemption of the body! Jesus took on our body and took it with Him to heaven. Through our bodies we fell, through our bodies we will be redeemed and enthroned in heaven. The body IS the person in that the BODY REVEALS THE PERSON. Even our will chooses through our bodies. TOB could really be called the "theology of the human person." Our mind/will only exists because our body exists!! We can't SEE anything but our bodies!
We are one person. Whatever we do with our spirit we do with our bodies. Whatever we do with our bodies we do with our spirits. Our whole person acts. Now we can understand Catholic moral teaching. "The one flesh union" (Christians shouldn't say "sex" because "sex" simply means "gender") says: "I give myself to you totally and I receive you totally." Follow the language of the body in honesty and you'll be happy. If we don't know who we are or what it means to be human, we'll really hurt ourselves and each other. If you don't know how to be human, listen to your body.
[If we just say the body speaks the language of "love," we don't know what "love" means any more, so we say "gift," etc., words which we still understand properly.]
"Everything depends on who he will be for her and who she will be for him." JP2G
[online comment: "We shouldn't say: 'you belong to me,' but rather 'I belong to you.'"]
[We can ask: who are we as humans? But immediately gender enters in because there are two ways to be a body, male and female, so we HAVE to say: what does it mean to be a woman or man, not just a generic "human"? We are trained to think that if something is DIFFERENT, than one is superior to the other. One has to be against the other. But this is the DYAMICS OF SIN. In TOB, ALL DIFFERENCES ARE A CALL TO COMMUNION. Can you see the implications this can have for relations among nations, racism, etc.??? Very important to understand about TOB: differences do not mean unequal, just different.]
[online comment: "If TOB was lived, there would be no conflict/competition becuz we don't compete with ourselves" (or shouldn't). Scripture tells men to "Love your wives as you love your own body"—and the same applies to wives loving their husbands. Scripture goes on to say: "No one hates their own body." ]
Gender is purposeful—right in the same breath with "image and likeness" of God. Gender is purposeful, not a preference.
A woman's body says what we must ALL do: "open yourself to God's love, receive God's love!" [As Jesus received and gave back the love of the Father that IS the Holy Spirit.]
Woman is the archetype for the whole human race [because we are all "feminine" before God in the sense that we can only receive from God, we can't give Him anything. So to answer an online comment that brought up the Aristotle/Aquinas gaffe: "Women are misbegotten males"—the truth is, science has shown us that the exact opposite is true: we're all female first and then males are differentiated. However, no antagonism of the sexes allowed in TOB!!! Women, who have historically been oppressed by men, are rightfully suspicious of anything that seems to be belittling them or stereotyping them. But trust me, that's not what TOB is doing. Just the opposite. And TOB is not about putting women on the proverbial pedestal, either. It's about reality. Being who we really are, and men being who they really are, and treating one another with the utmost respect and dignity that we all deserve. We just haven't heard anything like TOB before. In many respects it is NEW. We have only been given the extremes: woman as virgin or whore, china doll or seductress. Stick with TOB, girls, you'll see!!]
A man's body says: "be active in loving"—give love, externality, energy, man moves out to work on his environment. It reflects the initiating love of God the Father who makes the first move toward His beloved.
[This is not to say that woman is ONLY passive and man is ONLY active. Obviously this isn't so, but as we can plainly see from the design of our bodies, men and women love differently. Equally but differently.]
It is a reciprocal circuit of love.
Our bodies reveal God differently. A woman's body reveals something about God that a man's doesn't and vice versa.
[JPII cracked the code of Creation! It's all about mutuality. The pattern is everywhere in Creation. There can be no yin without the yang. The yin doesn't make sense without the yang. Each one is FOR the other, not against the other.]
The language of liturgy is conjugal. Conjugality in a sense is also liturgical. "Take, this is my body, given up for you." Isn't this the language of marriage?
[Highly recommended book from blogger, Dawn Eden: "The Thrill of the Chaste." She was living the NYC "Sex and the City" lifestyle to the hilt and describes exactly the lies that her mind and spirit were experiencing (definitely did not bring happiness). After converting to Christianity, she began listening to the real language of her body and her true desires. This is a very "subjective," "experiential" book. She mentions TOB, also!]
If you want to understand Creation, understand man who is the apex of Creation.
[Some online questions came up regarding whether or not the BODY is made in the image of God also. ANSWER: Affirmative!! See CCC #364 and #1004. We are ONE person, so ALL of us is made in the image of God, the Son now has a body forever, and we are temples of the Holy Spirit. Folks were also wondering what TOB means for celibates—that's coming! You could always jump ahead to the whole section on celibacy in TOB. The short answer is that we're all called to celibacy and we're all called to marriage. Hint: it's all about union. Also, someone asked if Father is married. No, but he comes from a line of married priests.]
NEXT MONTH: BACK TO 2ND WEDNESDAY! ASSIGNMENT: READ TO PAGE 178. We'll have prepared QUESTIONS to help with the first half hour of sharing.
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