Theology of the Body Session #1

Firstly, we would like to say a huge ‘Thank you!” to everyone who made it out on Sunday we had our biggest group yet! It was a session rich with information and discussion that we hope to continue throughout the course of the year.

Group Selfie avec le puff puff
Group Selfie avec le puff puff
During our 2nd session with Mrs Itsueli, Ifeanyi and Blondie gave us a summary of what they have read on Theology of the body for beginners by Christopher West (yes we are learners lol), which is an introduction to St John Paul II’s teachings of Theology of the body. We covered the Introduction and Chapter 1: What is theology of the Body? Summary notes below:

Mrs Itsueli’s Pre-discussion on types of Love (greek words): The word ‘Love’ has been misused in society today. Since we are Body, Spirit and Soul, there are different types of love that correspond to each aspect of our being however, Love is commonly defined as a feeling which relates only to the bodys’ 5 senses. This is false.

  • Eros refers to “intimate love” or romantic love
    • Love from the body -> physical attraction
    • It has no staying power as it focuses on using the human body and owning the human body -> Utilitarianism.
  • Storge refers to familial love; Brother and sisterly love
  • Philia refers to friendship as a kind of love;
    • From the soul, mind and psychology -> more a woman’s type of love. It seeks for attachment.
  • Agape refers to “selfless love”, or “charity”
    • Constantly giving without tire and its the only type of love that God can give.
    • Comes from the Holy Spirit and is the love that clothes the other types of love in a supernatural cocoon.
      • The love from John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son and Galatians 5:22 -23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

Chapter 1:

  • What is Theology of the Body?
    • Theology of the Body (TOB) is a collection of 129 of St John Paul II’s Wednesday audiences during the first six years of his papacy that explores the meaning of our bodies and sexual desire as it relates to the purpose of our existence. In other words, it is the study of God as revealed through our bodies.
    • It is the sexual counter-revolution i.e. the answer of the church to the sexual revolution however due to its complexity if has been stalled. It has barely begun to shape the Church’s theology preaching and religious education.
    • Christopher Wests author of the version we are reading attempts to explain in simple terms what TOB means.
  • God Sex and the Meaning of Life
    • Sex is not just about sex:
      • It tells us who we are, who god is, the meaning of love, the ordering of society and even the ordering of the universe.
      • It is much more than sex and married love.
      • It highlights Gods plan for human life from origin to eschaton from a supernatural perspective.
        • Eschaton: the end times and the four last things- death, judgement, heaven and hell.
      • The mystery of the Human Body leads to -> the Mystery of sexual difference -> mystery of holy communion in ‘one flesh’ -> mystery of Christ’s Holy Communion with the Church (Ephesians 5:31 – 32) -> eternal Holy communion of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
      • Basically, understanding the mystery the Human sexual body leads to understanding the mystery of God himself is we stay the course. TOB affords “the rediscovery of the meaning of the whole of existence…. the meaning of life”.
      • The Meaning of life is to love as Christ loves (John 15:12)
        • By creating us male and female to love in ‘one flesh’. (Genesis 2:24)
        • The resurrection of the body and the redemption in Christ has implications for understanding the body and sexual relationship.
        • The mission of Christ is to restore order in the world distorted by sin. The union of the sexes lies at the basis of the human ‘order of love”. Therefore, TOB is not just for marriage but essential to understand man and who man is in the world.
      • “Union of the sexes is a ‘great mystery’ that leads us into the heart of Gods plan for the cosmos,”
        • “For this reason, a man shall leave behind his father and mother, and he shall cling to his wife; and the two shall be as one flesh.”
          This is a great Sacrament. And I am speaking in Christ and in the Church. (Ephesians 5:31-32) CPDV”
  • Christianity Does Not reject the Body
    • Spirit has priority over matter, however, the CCC 1146 says ‘in human life, signs and symbols occupy an important place. As a being at once body and spirit, man expresses and perceives spiritual realities through physical signs and symbols. As a social being, man needs signs and symbols to communicate with others, through language, gestures, and actions. The same holds true for his relationship with God.’ This is means Sprit and matter work hand in hand.
    • The Incarnation of Jesus Christ is an example of what CCC says above as it is God who is spirit meeting us in the physical.
    • Tragically, many Christians grow up thinking of their bodies (especially their sexuality) as inherent obstacles to the spiritual life. This is false. The idea that the human body is ‘Bad” is a heresy known as Manichaeism. Manicheus ‘condemned the body and all things sexual because he saw in the material world the source of evil”. However, that is impossible because everything God created is good (Genesis 1:31).
    • TOB says that Christianity teaches that the body and sexuality always remain a value not sufficiently appreciated i.e. “the body is so good, you cannot even fathom it.”
    • The problem with our sex-saturated culture is not that we over-value body and sex, but that we just don’t know how valuable they really are.
    • CCC 1015: “The flesh is the hinge of salvation”. We believe in God who is creator of the flesh; we believe in the Word made flesh in order to redeem the flesh; we believe in the resurrection of the flesh, the fulfilment of both the creation and the redemption of the flesh.
  • The Sacramentality of the Body

  • Catholicism is very fleshy and sensual, encountering Gods Holy spirit through the material in the different sacraments.
  • What is a sacrament?
    • A Sacrament is an outward sign of inward Grace ordained by Jesus Christ, through which Grace is given to our soul.
    • In the sacraments, spirit and mater ‘kiss’. Heaven and earth embrace in union that will never end.
    • “Every sacrament is a living Jesus. It confirms the reality of salvation.”
    • CCC 1116: Sacraments are “powers that comes forth” from the Body of Christ, which is ever-living and life-giving. They are actions of the Holy Spirit at work in his Body, the Church. They are “the masterworks of God” in the new and everlasting covenant.
    • JPII says the body is a sacrament, which means it is a sign that makes visible the invisible mystery of God.
  •  How does God make his ‘invisible’ visible?
    • We see God in the reflection in His creations e.g. sunset, pretty flowers, starlit night etc.
    • “The beauty of creation reflects the infinite beauty of the creator.” (CCC 341)
    • Crown of creation is man and woman and their call to fruitful communion (Genesis 1:27-28).

Well guys thats all for the week! Until next time, feel free to comment or email your thoughts.

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