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Human Love in the Divine Plan

As well as being a philosopher and theologian, Saint John Paul II was a prophet, and from the beginning of his pontificate he had great vision into the reality and depth of the crisis that man was undergoing. He understood that in rejecting Jesus Christ, man was not just in a spiritual, theological crisis but was experiencing a profound crisis as to his own identity. As he wrote in his first encyclical, Redeemer of Man: "Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it. This, as has already been said, is why Christ the Redeemer "fully reveals man to himself"... The man who wishes to understand himself thoroughly - and not just in accordance with immediate, partial, often superficial, and even illusory standards and measures of his being - he must with his unrest, uncertainty and even his weakness and sinfulness, with his life and death, draw near to Christ."

Hence within a year of his papacy Pope St John Paul II had begun a series of catechesis on man, male and female, and their identity, nature and vocation in the love of God. John Paul II understood how great was the need (especially in the Western world) for this teaching on human love in the divine plan, teaching that has been coined 'Theology of the Body'.

The 129 catecheses were given in the Wednesday General Audiences between September 1979 - February 1983, a pause during the Jubilee of the Redemption, then from May - November 1984.

Catechesis on the Book of Genesis
The original unity of man and woman

  1.    Of the unity and indissolubility of marriage
  2.    The Biblical account of creation analysed
  3.    The second account of creation: the subjective definition of man
  4.    The boundary between original innocence and redemption
  5.    Man in search of the definition of himself
  6.    Man's awareness of being a person
  7.    In the definition of man, the alternative between death and immortality
  8.    The original unity of man and woman in humanity
  9.    Through the communion of persons man becomes the image of God
 10    Marriage one and indissoluble in the first chapters of Genesis
 11    The meaning of man's primordial experiences
 12    The personalistic fullness of original innocence
 13    Creation as the fundamental and original gift
 14    Revelation and the discovery of the spousal meaning of the body
 15    The man-person becomes gift in the freedom of love
 16    Awareness of the meaning of the body and original innocence
 17    The gift of the body creates an authentic communion
 18    Original innocence and man's historical state
 19    With "the sacrament of the body" man feels himself the subject of holiness
 20    The biblical meaning of knowledge in married life
 21    The mystery of woman revealed in motherhood
 22    The cycle of knowledge-generation and the perspective of death
 23    Questions about marriage in the integral vision of man

Catechesis on the Sermon on the Mount
Blessed are the Pure in Heart

 24    Christ appeals to the heart of man
 25    The ethical and anthropological content of the commandment: You shall not commit adultery
 26    Lust is the fruit of the breach of the covenant with God
 27    The radical change in the meaning of original nakedness
 28    A fundamental disquiet in all human existence
 29    The meaning of original shame in man-woman interpersonal relationships
 30    Dominion "over" the other in the interpersonal relationship
 31    The threefold concupiscence limits the nuptial meaning of the body
 32    The concupiscence of the body deforms the man-woman relationship
 33    The communion of persons in the will of the reciprocal gift
 34    The Sermon on the Mount to the men of our time
 35    The content of the commandment: You shall not commit adultery
 36    Adultery according to the Law and in the language of the Prophets
 37    Adultery according to Christ: falsification of the sign and break of the personal covenant
 38    The meaning of adultery transferred from the body to the heart
 39    Concupiscence as detachment from the spousal meaning of the body
 40    Desire, the intentional reduction of the horizon of the mind and heart
 41    Concupiscence distances man and woman from personal perspecitives and communion
 42    Building a new ethical sense through the rediscovery of values
 43    The psychological and theological interpretation of the concept of concupiscence
 44    Gospel values and duties of the human heart
 45    The realization of the value of the body according to the plan of the Creator
 46    The original force of creation becomes for man the force of redemption
 47    'Eros' and 'Ethos' meet and bear fruit in the human heart
 48    Spontaneity is truly human when it is the mature fruit of conscience
 49    Christ calls us to rediscover the living forces of the new man
 50    The Old Testament tradition and the new mean of "purity"

The Sacramentality of Marriage

 87    Marital Love Reflects God's Love for His People
 88    The Call to Be Imitators of God and to Walk in Love
 89    Reverence for Christ the Basis of Relationship Between Spouses
 90    A Deeper Understanding of the Church and Marriage
 91    St Paul's Analogy of the Union of Head and Body
 92    Sacredness of the Human Body and Marriage
 93    Christ's Redemptive Love Has Spousal Nature
 94    Moral Aspects of the Christian's Vocation
 95    Relationship of Christ to the Church Connected With the Tradition of the Prophets
 96    Analogy of Spousal Love Indicates the Radical Character of Grace
 97    Marriage Is the Central Point of the Sacrament of Creation
 98    Loss of Original Sacrament Restored with Redemption in Marriage Sacrament
 99    Marriage an Integral Part of New Sacramental Economy
100   Indissolubility of Sacrament of Marriage in Mystery of the Redemption of the Body
101   Christ Opened Marriage to the Saving Action of God
102   Marriage Sacrament an Effective Sign of God's Saving Power
103   The Redemptive and Spousal Dimensions of Love
104   The Substratum and Content of the Sacramental Sign of Spousal Communion
105   The Language of the Body in the Structure of Marriage
106   The Sacramental Covenant in the Dimension of Sign
107   Language of the Body Strengthens the Marriage Covenant
108   Man Called to Overcome Concupiscence
109   Return to the Subject of Human Love in the Divine Plan
110   Truth and Freedom the Foundation of True Love
111   Love Is Ever Seeking and Never Satisfied
112   Love Is Victorious in the Struggle Between Good and Evil
113   The Language of the Body: Actions and Duties Forming the Spirituality of Marriage

Mike, from England       

Mike puts his conversion down to learning about Pope St John Paul II's Theology of the Body on a retreat.

His John Paul II quote is: "I can only respond to an abyss of evil with an abyss of love."