Ontological foundation of Theology of the Body
The call to love is stamped in our body. There is an intimate connection between human love (eros) and divine love (agape). In order to restore erotic love’s true grandeur, we must experience the purification of eros by agape. This therefore means that love is indeed ecstasy, in the sense of going out of oneself. It is a liberation through self giving (both body and soul), and thus towards authentic self discovery.
On the unitive aspect
1. The human person is both spirit and body. Not pure spirit (Plato’s vision of the soul chained to the body) or pure body (Epicurean and Hedonist vision).
2. The body is a gateway to the spirit. Man knows through the senses, but man’s knowledge is not on only sensitive, but intellectual/spiritual. Through the material, we reach the immaterial, the spiritual.
3. The body has a nuptial meaning.
Theology of the Body as language
Our bodies “speak a language” precisely by the fact that our bodies are gendered. It is the language of “gift.” Being able to read the “language of our bodies” helps men and women to understand “why” they are male and female which in turn allows them to know “how” to be male and female and therefore how to truly be for each other.
Theology of the Body and marriage
Both man and woman are active in marriage. Woman reveals to man what it means to be a human being. The role of woman, quoting Mulieris Dignitatem, is to reveal to man what it is to be truly human. The breakdown of a family begins with the breakdown of the plan in the male-female relationship.
Following the words of Genesis that establish marriage as a union of the two “in one flesh” (Gn 2:24), we read that the first man and woman were both naked yet “felt no shame” (Gn 2:25) [The Sistine Chapel is a Shrine of Theology of the Body which instead of making one ashamed, helps a person to look up to God].
The structure of a woman’s body is made for union, for connection. The act of intercourse happens within a woman’s body as does the union of egg and sperm. The rapidly forming embryo unites itself to the lining of the womb and remains connected through the umbilical cord. In breastfeeding, the woman and her child are connected heart to heart and flesh to flesh for love and nourishment.
There is no shame in being a woman. Only women can receive new life into the empty space within. Only women can make a gift of self so that others can receive the gift of their very lives. A woman’s body “speaks” the language of receptivity and relationship.
In his apostolic letter, On The Dignity and Vocation of Women, Pope John Paul II described this feminine gift of self: “Motherhood implies from the beginning [from creation] a special openness to the new person….In this openness…the woman discovers herself through a sincere gift of self.'” A few lines later he adds: “Motherhood (within a family and the spiritual sense) is linked to the personal structure of the woman and to the personal dimension of the gift.”
Eschatology of Theology of the Body
God’s eternal plan is to marry us (The Church; the Bride). The original union explained in Genesis, was a virginal union. Experience of unity is a foreshadowing of the unity in heaven. “Ephesians 5 is a compendium of everything that we can say of the mystery of God and humanity fulfilled in Christ”.
2 “The body thus becomes a sign of the eternal mystery hidden in the Triune God” (JPII)- The Theology of the Body
1. Theology of the Body: http://www.theologyofthebody.net/
2. Pope John Paul II, Mulieris Dignitatem:
Theology of the Body Seminar given by Fr. Conor on 12th May, 2012 in Satima Study Centre