In the past, I’ve posted on the Byzantine Christian prayer life and its ability to incorporate an understanding of God’s actions in the midst of our brokenness, disease, and weakness. Perhaps some may have read this and felt that there was presumption in my writing, as I compared the language from Blessed Pope John Paul II’s writings known as the Theology of the Body to some concepts in the Byzantine prayer life. However, I would like to share this quote from his last address in the series on the Theology of the Body.
Blessed Pope John Paul II wrote:
The catechesis of the first and second parts repeatedly used the term “theology of the body.” In a certain sense, this is a “working” term. The introduction of the term and the concept of the theology of the body was necessary to establish the theme, “The redemption of the body and the sacramentality of marriage,” on a wider base. We must immediately note that the term “theology of the body” goes far beyond the content of the reflections that were made. These reflections do not include multiple problems which, with regard to their object, belong to the theology of the body (as, for example, the problem of suffering and death, so important in the biblical message). We must state this clearly.
For more context for this quote, see here.
It is so clear that when many scholars have tried to help us understand the theology of the body, they have concentrated on making the words of Blessed Pope John Paul II more accessible. But the project, the perspective, the mindset whereby we see our body as a vehicle to understand the eternal has kept our attention rapt in our bodily existence as men and women in our sexuality.
But as you can see above, even our own illness and mortality is a message which speaks volumes. As such, I would argue that the Theology of the Body was meant for so much more than reflections on love and marriage. They also include reflections on disease and death, which were not originally expounded upon, but could be a fertile soil for our own day.
As we move forward to consider our own weaknesses and our own eventual redemption as we are united to Christ in our own death, may we see that His body which was broken for us is the foundation and basis for our ongoing love and hope for a future which transcends our own mortality.
Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, pray to God for us!