On Thursday, May 12, the Pope received participants in a meeting sponsored by the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family.
At the beginning of the address the Holy Father recalled that 30 years ago the newly Blessed John Paul II founded that Institute and the Pontifical Council for the Family and that it was precisely on 13 May thirty years ago that he “suffered the terrible assassination attempt in St. Peter’s Square”.
Benedict XVI noted a few points of reflection to the members of the institute for “uniting the theology of the body with the theology of love in order to find the unity of the path of humankind”.
While emphasizing that “the body is the place where the spirit can dwell”, the pontiff noted that “in light of this we can understand that our bodies are not inert, heavy material but, if we know how to listen, they speak the language of true love”.
“The body”, he explained, “speaks to us of an origin that we haven’t granted ourselves. … It is only when recognizing the original love that has given them life that human beings can accept themselves, only then can they be reconciled with nature and with the world”.
Referring to the creation of our first forebears, the Pope asserted that ” before the Fall, Adam and Eve’s bodies appear in perfect harmony. They have a language that they didn’t create, an eros rooted in nature that invites them to receive one another mutually from the Creator so that they might thus be able to give themselves. … The union in one flesh thus becomes a union of all of life, so that man and woman might become one spirit. … In this sense”, he continued, “the virtue of chastity takes on a new meaning. It is not a “no” to life’s pleasures and joys but a great “yes” to love as the profound communication between persons, which requires time and respect, as a path together toward fullness and as love that becomes capable of generating life and generously welcoming the new life that is born”.
The Holy Father said that “the body also contains a negative language. It speaks to us of the oppression of the other, of the desire to possess and exploit. Nevertheless, we know that this language does not pertain to God’s original plan, but is the fruit of sin. When separated from its filial meaning, from its connection with the Creator, the body rebels against humans, and loses its capacity to show communion, becoming a place where the other is appropriated. Isn’t this”, he asked, ” the drama of sexuality that today remains locked in the vicious circle of one’s own body and emotion, but which in reality can only be fulfilled in the call to something greater?”.
“God offers humans a path of redemption to the body, whose language is preserved in the family … where the theology of the body and the theology of love are intertwined. Here the gift of self in one single flesh is lived in the conjugal love that unites spouses. Here the fruitfulness of love is experienced and life is joined with that of other generations. In the family, humans discover their relationality, not as autonomous individuals who are self-made but as child, spouse, and parent whose identity is based on being called to love, to receiving another’s self and to giving oneself to others”.
Benedict XVI concluded, recalling that “God takes on the body and revealed himself in it. … As the Son, he received the filial body in gratitude, listening to the Father, and he offered his body for us, so that the new body of the Church might be generated”.