Called to Love : Approaching John Paul II's Theology of the Body

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2009-04-14
  • Publisher: Doubleday Religion

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A thoughtful, accessible work on the beauty of love and the splendor of the body, inspired by Pope John Paul II. Christianity has long been regarded as viewing the body as a threat to a person's spiritual nature and of denying its sexual dimension. In 1979, Pope John Paul II departed from this traditional dichotomy and offered an integrated vision of the human body and soul. In a series of talks that came to be known as "the theology of the body," he explained the divine meaning of human sexuality and why the body provides answers to fundamental questions about our lives. InCalled to Love, Carl Anderson, chairman of the world's largest catholic service organization, and Fr. Jose Granados discuss the philosophical and religious significance of "the theology of the body" in language at once poetic and profound. As they explain, the body speaks of God, it reveals His goodness, and it also speaks of men and women and their vocation to love.Called to Lovebrings to life the tremendous gift John Paul II bestowed on humanity and gives readers a new understanding of the Christian way of love and how to embrace it fully in their lives.

Author Biography

CARL ANDERSON, New York Times bestselling author, is the chief executive officer and chairman of the board of the Knights of Columbus. He held various positions of the Executive Office of the President from 1983 to 1987, was a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and has taught at the Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Rome. FR. JOSE GRANADOS is Assistant Professor of Patrology and Sytematic Theology at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. vii
Abbreviationsp. xi
Introductionp. 1
Encountering Love: The Experience of The Body And The Revelation of Love
The Body Manifests The Personp. 19
Sexual Difference: The Vocation to Lovep. 39
The Nuptial Mystery: From The Original Gift To The Gift of Selfp. 61
The Communion of Persons As An Image of The Trinityp. 80
The Redemption of The Heart
A Wounded Heart: The Fragility of Lovep. 101
Christ: The Redeemer of The Heart And The Fullness of Lovep. 125
Maturing In The Fullness of Lovep. 145
The Beauty of Love: The Splendor of the Body
Loving with the Love of Christ: The Sacrament of Marriagep. 167
Witnessing To The Fullness of Love: Christian Virginity And The Destiny of The Bodyp. 199
The Family and The Civilization of Lovep. 226
Notesp. 245
Bibliographyp. 257
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.


Chapter I
The Body Manifests the Person
WE BEGAN OUR JOURNEY OF REFLECTION IN THIS BOOK with John Paul II's identification of the key difference between man and the rest of the visible creation: "The rushing stream cannot wonder... but man can wonder!" (RT, 8). This wonder, we went on to see, is called forth by the richness of our experience of life-especially by the experience of love. Our task now is to ponder the indispensable role the body plays in this many-faceted experience of wonder.

Experience and Meaning

We all face the temptation to let life's current carry us along-to "go with the flow" without any resistance. But if we simply let a flood of experiences wash over us, we are in danger of losing the meaning of our lives. A recent survey of teenagers in Southampton, United Kingdom, revealed that this danger is anything but purely theoretical. The respondents, it turned out, possessed only a limited vocabulary to express the emotional quality of their response to the world. These teens suffered from what has been called "affective illiteracy": the inability to grasp and express the meaning of the experiences generated in us by our encounter with the world around us.
It isn't enough, then, simply to let our experiences wash over us. We need to plumb their depth. This exploration isn't a matter of "sampling" as many possibilities as we can, or of ratcheting up the volume of our existence, but requires us to ask ourselves questions such as these: Are we capable of distinguishing between experiences that build up our happiness and experiences that tear it down? Are we able to discern in our experiences something like a compass for our life's journey? In a word: Are we capable of perceiving the meaning of our experiences?
We tend to put experience and meaning in separate boxes. We have already seen why this won't work. When man experiences the world, he necessarily experiences himself in the process. For the same reason, man's experience of the world always involves an at least minimal search for the meaning of his life. The sight of a majestic mountainscape doesn't just reveal the wonder of creation; it also affords us an opportunity to lay hold of our innate capacity for beauty and wonder. Since the question of man emerges from our contact with the world, experience always goes together with a search for meaning. Even the refusal to embark on this search is an answer to the question of meaning.
We had the experience, we missed the meaning
And approach to the meaning restores the experience
In a different form.
These lines from T. S. Eliot's poem "The Dry Salvages" underscore the point that meaning is not foreign to experience. Quite the contrary, meaning is an integral part of experience. So much so, in fact, that meaning makes our experience properly human in the first place. John Paul II's insight into this unity of meaning and experience guided his reflection on the theology of the body, which begins with an effort to recollect the authentic "feel" of man's experience in light of its deepest meaning. In a word, the pope guides us through the labyrinth of our lives using the golden thread of what he calls "original experiences." So what is an "original experience"?

The Original Experience

John Paul II invites us to seek the true depth of our experience. Actually, it is Christ himself who first entrusted this task to us. When the Pharisees asked him, "Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?" (Matt. 19:3), he didn't list minimum sufficient grounds for divorce, but went instead to the heart of the matter: Is it really possible to love another person forever? The Pharisees clearly assumed that the answer was no. This assumption reflects their (and our) hardness of heart, and it speaks volumes about man's alienation from the root of his experience of

Excerpted from Called to Love: Approaching John Paul II's Theology of the Body by Carl Anderson, Jose Granados
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