Wednesday, September 14, 2011

1. What is Theology of the Body?

I first heard about Theology of the Body my senior year in high school. I bought a book about it, Theology of the Body for Beginners, though I don't remember when that was or even if I read it. I just had it with me when I came to Portugal. Then, my third year here in Portugal, when I started going to the parish where my youth group is at, they asked me, "have you heard of Theology of the Body?" I was pretty lucky to end up at probably the only parish in Portugal where there is a group of people interested in TOB. And, with that group, I've also been lucky enough to have gone to a TOB retreat here in Portugal, the 2nd International TOB Symposium in Ireland, the 1st National TOB Congress in Pennsylvania and, last June, the 3rd International TOB Symposium in London. I actually just found an article where I'M QUOTED (and didn't know it!) about all this here.

So I've had all these amazing opportunities, but I've never actually read Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body in its entirety. So now is the time, I've already started... I'm reading till the end! And since I'm currently camera-less (and therefore unable to post pics on my blog), I've decided this is the perfect opportunity to get to work and post my own summaries of each section here on this blog.

First things first, what is TOB?
- A guide to who we are, what we're destined for and what will truly satisfy us.
- An explanation of the Gospel and how to live it.
- The "deep roots from which spring" Catholic teaching on love and sexuality. 
- A vision of what being human really means and how we can live life in a way that will bring true happiness. 
- An explanation of the Church's position on contraception and other reproductive technologies. The reasons behind the encyclical Humanae Vitae.
- 129 catechesis on human love in the divine plan delivered by Pope John Paul II at Wednesday General Audiences (in St. Peter's Square) between the years of 1979 to 1984.
- John Paul II's masterwork.
- "John Paul II's theology of the body is most often cast as an extended catechesis on marriage and sexual love. It certainly is that, but it is also much more. Through the mystery of the incarnate person and the biblical analogy of spousal love, John Paul II's catechesis illumines the entirety of God's plan for human life from origin to eschaton with a splendid supernatural light. It's not only a response to the sexual revolution, it's a response to the Enlightenment. It's a response to modern rationalism, Cartesian dualism, super-spiritualism, and all the disembodied anthropologies infecting the modern world. In short, the theology of the body is one of the Catholic Church's most critical efforts in modern times to help the world become more 'conscious of the mystery and reality of the Incarnation' - and, through that, to become more conscious of the humanum, of the very purpose and meaning of human life." - Christopher West in the preface of TOB

I'll be writing my summaries using Christopher West's division of TOB, before the latest translation in English, because I like it better. So go ahead and click on each cycle number to read about that section. They will be coming gradually, as I am able to read them.

      Part 1: Who Are We? Establishing an Adequate Anthropology
         Cycle 1: Original Man
         Cycle 2: Historical Man
         Cycle 3: Eschatological Man
      Part 2: How Are We to Live? Applying an Adequate Anthropology
         Cycle 4: Christ and the Church
         Cycle 5: The Dimension of Sign
         Cycle 6: Love and Fruitfulness
      TOB Online Resources

Disclaimer: In my summaries, I'll just be writing a few of my thoughts and reflections on TOB from my reading. I hope that it won't "reduce" TOB in anyone's view or think that it is something that can be summarized. TOB is official Church teaching, in line with 2000 years of teaching, and is meant to be a starting point to be reflected, appropriated, lived, etc. It's a time-bomb just now starting to go off in this CENTURY. So please don't think TOB is just what I write here... please look into the many resources and courses becoming more and more readily available. ;)

Let's go!

"In the Sistine Chapel's The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo, we see that as God looks down at the passage of energy from his right arm through his index finger into Adam's left hand, he affectionately holds Eve under his other arm, her left hand resting gently above his wrist with her index finger slightly raised. Though she is still only an idea in God's mind, her eyes are intensely fixed on the eyes of Adam, who turns toward God's face and returns her look." - Inside cover of English version of TOB

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