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The Theology of the Body

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 John Paul II began 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, teaching on the 'Theology of the Body'.

The catecheses were given in the Wednesday General Audiences between September 1979 - February 1983, pause then during the Jubilee of the Redemption, and from May - November 1984. The series went as follows:
(links included to the texts in French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish on the Vatican website)

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"

Catechesis on St Paul's teaching on the human body
Life according to the Spirit

 51    Justification in Christ
 52    Opposition Between the Flesh and the Spirit
 53    Life in the Spirit Based on True Freedom
 54    St Paul's Teaching on the Sanctity and Respect of the Human Body
 55    St Paul's Description of the Body and Teaching on Purity
 56    The Virtue of Purity Is the Expression and Fruit of Life According to the Spirit
 57    The Pauline Doctrine of Purity as Life According to the Spirit 
 58    Positive Function of Purity of Heart
 59    Pronouncements of Magisterium Apply Christ's Words Today
 60    The Human Body, Subject of Works of Art
 61    Reflections on the Ethos of the Human Body in Works of Artistic Culture
 62    Art Must Not Violate the Right to Privacy
 63    Ethical Responsibilities in Art

[Pause in JPII's weekly catecheses as a result of the assassination attempt on 13 May 1981]

The Resurrection of the body

 64    Marriage and Celibacy in the Light of the Resurrection of the Body
 65    The Living God Continually Renews the Very Reality of Life
 66    The Resurrection and Theological Anthropology
 67    The Resurrection Perfects the Person
 68    Christ's Words on the Resurrection Complete the Revelation of the Body
 69    New Threshold of Complete Truth About Man
 70    Doctrine of the Resurrection according to St Paul
 71    The Risen Body Will Be Incorruptible, Glorious, Dynamic, and Spiritual
 72    Body's Spiritualization Will Be Source of Its Power and Incorruptibility

Virginity for the sake of the Kingdom

 73    Virginity or Celibacy for the Sake of the Kingdom
 74    The Vocation to Continence in This Earthly Life
 75    Continence for the Sake of the Kingdom Meant to Have Spiritual Fulfillment
 76    The Effective and Privileged Way of Continence
 77    Superiority of Continence Does Not Devalue Marriage
 78    Marriage and Continence Complement Each Other
 79    The Value of Continence Is Found in Love
 80    Celibacy Is a Particular Response to the Love of the Divine Spouse
 81    Celibacy for the Kingdom Affirms Marriage
 82    Voluntary Continence Derives From a Counsel, Not From a Command
 83    The Unmarried Person Is Anxious to Please the Lord
 84    Everyone Has His Own Gift from God, Suited to His Vocation
 85    The Kingdom of God, Not the World, Is Man's Eternal Destiny
 86    Mystery of the Body's Redemption Basis of Teaching on Marriage and Voluntary Continence

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

Reflections on Humanae Vitae

114   Morality of Marriage Act Determined by Nature of the Act and of the Subjects
115   The Norm of Humanae Vitae Arises from the Natural Law and the Revealed Order
116   Importance of Harmonizing Human Love with Respect for Life
117   Responsible Parenthood
118   Faithfulness to the Divine Plan in the Transmission of Life
119   Church's Position on Transmission of Life
120   A Discipline That Ennobles Human Love
121   Responsible Parenthood Linked to Moral Maturity
122   Prayer, Penance and the Eucharist: Principal Sources of Spirituality for Married Couples
123   The Power of Love Is Given to Man and Woman as a Share in God's Love
124   Continence Protects the Dignity of the Conjugal Act
125   Continence Frees One from Inner Tension
126   Continence Deepens Personal Communion
127   Christian Spirituality of Marriage by Living According to the Spirit
128   Respect for the Work of God
129   Redemption of the Body and Sacramentality 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."