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Truth and Freedom the Foundation of True Love

110 (of 129) - Catechesis by John Paul II on the Theology of the Body
General Audience, Wednesday 30 May 1984 - in Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Nel brano degli Atti degli Apostoli, testé letto, abbiamo ascoltato la narrazione dell’Ascensione di Gesù al cielo. Come è noto, domani si celebra, secondo il calendario della Chiesa universale, la solennità dell’Ascensione.

È una festa che ci invita a guardare in alto, a pensare al nostro destino ultraterreno e a pregare con insistenza e costanza affinché venga il regno di Dio.

Domani pomeriggio ordinerò settantasette nuovi sacerdoti. Vi invito a pregare perché diventino, mediante il sacramento dell’Ordine, guide al cielo, pastori di uomini che si prodigano generosamente per la gloria di Dio e il servizio dei fratelli.

1. We resume our analysis of the Song of Songs with the purpose of understanding in a more adequate and exhaustive way the sacramental sign of marriage. This is manifested by the language of the body, a singular language of love originating in the heart.

At a certain point, expressing a particular experience of values that shines upon everything that relates to the person he loves, the groom says:

"You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride;
you have ravished my heart with one glance of your eyes,
with one bead of your necklace.
How sweet are your caresses, my sister, my bride..." (Sg 4:9-10).

From these words emerges what is of essential importance for the theology of the body—and in this case for the theology of the sacramental sign of marriage—to know who the female "you" is for the male "I" and vice versa.

The groom in the Song of Songs exclaims: "You are all-beautiful, my beloved" (Sg 4:7) and calls her "my sister, my bride" (Sg 4:9). He does not call her by her name, but he uses expressions that say more.

Under a certain aspect, compared with the name "beloved," the name "sister" that is used for the bride seems to be more eloquent and rooted in the sum total of the Song, which illustrates how love reveals the other person.

2. The term "beloved" indicates what is always essential for love, which puts the second "I" beside one's own "I." Friendship—love of friendship (amor amicitiae)—signifies in the Song a particular approach felt and experienced as an interiorly unifying power. The fact that in this approach that female "I" is revealed for her groom as "sister"—and that precisely as both sister and bride—has a special eloquence. The expression "sister" speaks of the union in mankind and at the same time of her difference and feminine originality. This is not only with regard to sex, but to the very way of "being person," which means both "being subject" and "being in relationship." The term "sister" seems to express, in a more simple way, the subjectivity of the female "I" in personal relationship with the man, that is, in the openness of him toward others, who are understood and perceived as brothers. The sister in a certain sense helps man to identify himself and conceive of himself in this way, constituting for him a kind of challenge in this direction.

3. The groom in the Song accepts the challenge and seeks the common past, as though he and his woman were descended from the same family circle, as though from infancy they were united by memories of a common home. So they mutually feel as close as brother and sister who owe their existence to the same mother. From this a specific sense of common belonging follows. The fact that they feel like brother and sister allows them to live their mutual closeness in security and to manifest it, finding support in that, and not fearing the unfair judgment of other men.

Through the name "sister," the groom's words tend to reproduce, I would say, the history of the femininity of the person loved. They see her still in the time of girlhood and they embrace her entire "I," soul and body, with a disinterested tenderness. Hence there arises that peace which the bride speaks of. This is the peace of the body, which in appearance resembles sleep ("Do not arouse, do not stir up love before its own time"). This is above all the peace of the encounter in mankind as the image of God—and the encounter by means of a reciprocal and disinterested gift. ("So am I in your eyes, like one who has found peace", Sg 8:10.)

4. In relation to the preceding plot, which could be called a "fraternal" plot, another plot emerges in the loving duet of the Song of Songs, another substratum of the content. We can examine it by starting from certain sayings that seem to have a key significance in the poem. This plot never emerges explicitly, but through the whole composition, and is expressly manifested only in a few passages. So the groom says: "You are an enclosed garden, my sister, my bride,an enclosed garden, a fountain sealed" (Sg 4:12).

The metaphors just read, an "enclosed garden, a fountain sealed," reveal the presence of another vision of the same female "I," master of her own mystery. We can say that both metaphors express the personal dignity of the woman who as a spiritual subject is in possession and can decide not only on the metaphysical depth, but also on the essential truth and authenticity of the gift of herself, inclined to that union which Genesis speaks of.

The language of metaphors—poetic language—seems to be in this sphere especially appropriate and precise. The "sister bride" is for the man the master of her own mystery as a "garden enclosed" and a "fountain sealed." The language of the body reread in truth keeps pace with the discovery of the interior inviolability of the person. At the same time, this discovery expresses the authentic depth of the mutual belonging of the spouses who are aware of belonging to each other, of being destined for each other: "My lover belongs to me and I to him" (Sg 2:16; cf. 6:3).

5. This awareness of mutual belonging resounds especially on the lips of the bride. In a certain sense, with these words she responds to the groom's words with which he acknowledged her as the master of her own mystery. When the bride says, "My lover belongs to me," she means at the same time, "It is he to whom I entrust myself." Therefore she says, "and I to him" (Sg 2:16). The words "to me" and "to him" affirm here the whole depth of that entrustment, which corresponds to the interior truth of the person.

It likewise corresponds to the nuptial significance of femininity in relation to the male "I," that is, to the language of the body reread in the truth of personal dignity.

The groom states this truth with the metaphors of the "garden enclosed" and the "fountain sealed." The bride answers him with the words of the gift, that is, the entrustment of herself. As master of her own choice she says, "I belong to my lover." The Song of Songs subtly reveals the interior truth of this response. The freedom of the gift is the response to the deep awareness of the gift expressed by the groom's words. Through this truth and freedom that love is built up, which we must affirm is authentic love."

After the catechesis, Papa Giovanni Paolo II greeted the pilgrims in various languages:

Ai gruppi francesi

J’adresse un salut cordial aux membres de la Société Royale des Bibliophiles et des Iconophiles Belgique. L’Eglise s’intéresse à votre recherche et j’espère que vos visites au Vatican et dans Rome contribueront à enrichir votre culture archéologique et artistique. Et je souhaite la bienvenue à tous les autres pèlerins de Belgique, de France, de Suisse, du Canada, provenant de paroisses ou de collèges. De tout cœur je vous bénis dans la paix et la joie du temps pascal.

Ai pellegrini di lingua inglese

I offer a special word of welcome to the members of the South African Legion and to the participants in the BIPAVER World Congress. I hope that your visit to Rome will be a time of joy and spiritual renewal. May you return to your homelands with deeper faith in our Lord and greater trust in his loving providence.

May God bless all the visitors at today’s audience, in particular those coming from England, Sweden, South Africa, Japan, Australia, Canada and the United States. And my special blessing to all the Sisters of the various religious Institutes.

Al “Rotary Club” di Tokyo

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!

Dilettissimi membri del “Rotary Club” di Tokyo.

Vi ringrazio di cuore per essere venuti a visitarmi qui in Vaticano.

Vi auguro di lavorare ogni giorno di più per il bene del Giappone e per il bene del mondo.

Sia locato Gesù Cristo.

Ai pellegrini di lingua tedesca

Herzlich grüße ich mit dieser kurzen Betrachtung alle anwesenden Gruppen und Pilger aus Deutschland, Osterreich und der Schweiz; darunter namentlich die Pilgergruppe vom Auslandsekretariat in Bonn. Einen besonderen Willkommensgruß richte ich an die Mitglieder des Internationalen Paneuropa-Union und der Ludwig-Frank-Stiftung. Gern ermutige ich Sie in Ihren gemeinsamen Bemühungen mit all denen, die sich für eine geistige Erneuerung Europas aus den christlichen Wurzeln der adendländischen Kultur einsetzen. Möge die Besinnung auf das gemeinsame christliche Erbe die Völker des gesamten europäischen Kontinents zu ihrer ursprünglichen Einheit zurückführen, damit sie ihre spezifische Aufgabe in der Welt von heute wirksam zu erfüllen vermögen. Von Herzen erteile ich Ihnen und allen anwesenden deutschsprachigen Pilgern meinen besonderen Apostolischen Segen.

Ai numerosi pellegrini di lingua spagnola

Y ahora un saludo a todas las personas y grupos aquí presentes venidos de España, de Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Colombia y Argentina. En particular a las Religiosas de Jesús-María y Adoratrices del Santísimo Sacramento, con mi palabra de aliento a ser fieles a su vocación consagrada.

* * *

Un especial recuerdo a los miembros de la Asociación Latino-Mediterránea de Psiquiatría. Al expresaros mi viva estima por la generosa entrega a vuestra profesión, os animo a ejercerla con profundo sentido ético y con gran respeto a los valores de la persona humana. A todos os bendigo de corazón.

Ai pellegrini di espressione portoghese

Quero saudar, em especial, os Senhores Oficiais, Cadetes, Alunos e Tripulação do navio-escola “Custódio de Mello”, do Brasil. Aprecio a vossa grata presença; e desejo que a vinda a Roma vos seja proveitosa, para viverdes os vossos ideais e a Fé cristã. Que nas viagens pelo mundo, com as indispensáveis virtudes de coragem, disciplina, solidariedade e amizade, cresçam nos vossos corações desígnios de amor, fraternidade e paz entre os homens, como Deus quer. Com a minha Bênção Apostólica.

Ai pellegrini polacchi

Serdecznie witam wszystkich obecnych: ks. biskupa Czesława Domina z Katowic, tak bardzo zasłużonego dla duszpasterstwa charytatywnego w Polsce i dla kontaktów z całym Kościołem w tej dziedzinie; witam pielgrzymów z archidiecezji warszawskiej, Kurię Warszawską; kapłanów z archidiecezji wrocławskiej, obchodzących 25-lecie kapłaństwa; pielgrzymów z Wrocławia, z parafii św. Stanisława i Doroty; z Poznania, z parafii św. Michała Archanioła; z diecezji opolskiej, z dekanatu Kluczbork; pielgrzymkę grekokatolików z diecezji tarnowskiej i przemyskiej; z Krakowa: Bronowice, parafia św. Wojciecha; jeszcze z Poznania, z parafii Świętego Zbawiciela; z Legnicy, z parafii świętych Piotra i Pawła. Prócz tego pielgrzymkę pracowników gdańskiego biura kolejowego; pielgrzymkę z Żor - diecezja katowicka, z parafii świętych Apostołów Filipa i Jakuba oraz św. Stanisława Biskupa; pielgrzymkę kolejarzy z Katowic i Bielska-Białej oraz bardzo licznych pielgrzymów indywidualnych z całej Polski oraz emigracji: ze Szwecji, Francji i Stanów Zjednoczonych, w szczególności pielgrzymów z Chicago.

Ai gruppi italiani

Rivolgo un cordiale saluto a tutti i gruppi di lingua italiana, che sono venuti in pellegrinaggio per rinnovare la loro professione di fede sulle tombe degli Apostoli.

In particolare, desidero ricordare coloro che stanno seguendo il corso, organizzato dal Centro Internazionale della Gioventù Lavoratrice (Centro ELIS), e che provengono da parecchie Nazioni.

Nel rivolgervi un sincero augurio per lo studio che state compiendo in questo periodo, auspico che ritornando nei vostri Paesi portiate non soltanto il contributo delle specializzazioni acquisite, ma soprattutto lo spirito di unione, di solidarietà, di fraternità, che deve sempre animare i rapporti degli uomini e dei popoli.

A tutti la mia Benedizione Apostolica.

* * *

Rivolgo inoltre, il mio saluto ai numerosi gruppi di giovani, di ragazzi e di bambini, i quali sono venuti ad allietare con la loro vivace presenza questo incontro settimanale. Carissimi, sono lieto di vedervi, e vi ringrazio per la testimonianza di gioia e di fede, che voi qui portate.

La festa dell’Ascensione, che cade domani, anche se la celebrazioni è stata trasportata per l’Italia a Domenica prossima, vi insegni a sapervi elevare e a porre la vostra vita su un piano soprannaturale; vi insegni a considerare i destini ultimi che ci attendono e quindi a sapervi orientare verso i beni che non passano, senza lasciarvi impigliare nella rete dei piaceri ingannevoli, avendo sempre una visione dall’alto della vostra vita. Vi conforti la mia Benedizione.

* * *

Anche  voi, ammalati, che partecipate a questa Udienza e a quanti soffrono nelle corsie di ospedali e nelle proprie case, desidero rivolgere la mia parola di conforto, di incoraggiamento e di partecipazione alla vostra sofferenza e alla vostra solitudine.

Anche voi guardate al Signore che sale in Cielo: egli porta con sé tutta l’umanità da lui redenta; porta anche le vostre sofferenze perché siano per voi titoli di merito davanti al Padre. Sappiate elevarvi spiritualmente, per non soffrire invano. In segno di affetto e di conforto vi imparto una speciale Benedizione.

* * *

Un saluto speciale, infine, va agli sposi novelli. Carissimi, vi esprimo il mio apprezzamento per aver voluto suggellare l’inizio della vostra vita matrimoniale con la benedizione del Papa. Volentieri corrispondo al vostro proposito, esprimendovi l’augurio che la vostra vita si svolga sempre sotto il segno della gioia, dell’armonia e della grazia del Signore. La luce che si irradia dal mistero dell’Ascensione vi dia il senso vero della vita, che è fatta per salire ogni giorno verso la perfezione cristiana. Vi benedico invocando sulle vostre nascenti famiglie copiosi favori celesti.

* * *

Desidero raccomandare alle preghiere di voi qui presenti e di tutti i cattolici sparsi nel mondo, il dialogo tra la Chiesa cattolica e le Chiese ortodosse. Oggi la commissione mista incaricata di questo dialogo si incontra nell’Accademia ortodossa di Creta e tratterà il tema del rapporto tra “Fede, sacramenti e unità”. Il Concilio Vaticano II ha con vigore affermato che proprio per mezzo dei sacramenti cattolici e ortodossi restiamo ancora uniti da strettissimi vincoli (cf. Unitatis Redintegratio, 15). Possa lo studio comune, la preghiera di tutti e il dialogo, franco e leale, far superare tutte le difficoltà ancora esistenti per ristabilire la piena unità e finalmente celebrare insieme l’Eucaristia del Signore.

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