29 March 2010

Holy Week Prayers

Today I came across a website done by Creighton University that has a different prayer for each day of Lent. I'm a little late to the party considering it is the last week of Lent now, but here are the Holy Week prayers.

A Second I

General Audience of November 7, 1979

This morning I read about the creation of woman. When he talks about the first woman, John Paul II discusses an idea I’ve never heard of called “original unity.” It is really, really neat.

JP2 says that when man names the animals and discovers his body, consciousness, and original solitude, he is just a human being. The original word for this man is 'adam. Then, because he finds no help similar to himself, God puts 'adam into a “torpor” – a very deep sleep. When he wakes up, he finds another human being (a female) and is pleased to have found a being similar to himself. He says, “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Gen 2:23). God made 'adam a “second I” (159).

25 March 2010

Feast of the Annunciation

Happy Feast Day! Thank you, Mary.

Eternal Day

I am not sure who wrote this poem, but I came across it yesterday and thought it beautiful.

Eternal Day

In our sorrows, Lord,
We taste your suffering
And in our loneliness
That garden dark
Where all are silent,
Lost or sleeping
Save you alone, dear Lord
With aching heart.

In our joy, dear Lord,
We savour wholeness
In your rising we are raised up
When all of beauty
And all of goodness
Is poured abundantly
From passion's cup.

In our living, Lord,
We walk in shadow
Your presence with us
Along life's way
And in our giving, Lord
We build the kingdom
That opens up for us
Eternal day.

22 March 2010

An Aside: St. Thérèse of Lisieux

I read this today and liked it far too much not to post it: The Little Way of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.

What a beautiful way to live.

19 March 2010

The Visible and Invisible, Death and Immortality

General Audience of October 31, 1979

Adam continuously distinguished himself from all of the other living beings in the world by cultivating the garden and by naming everything and finding nothing the same as himself. The first is a bodily action, and the second is metaphysical. Once again, we see the body and the spirit at play. In his original solitude, man is both a bodily actor and a metaphiscal thinker. He is the complete picture of human-ness only when his body and his spirit are both present. The visible and the invisible determine man.

With this understanding of his humanity, Adam must contemplate the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and God's words about it. As a backdrop to this contemplation, Adam is also aware of himself as the subject of the first covenant with the Creator. That's a lot to take in all at once!

At this point in time, could Adam even understand the enormity of what was before him? Could he understand death? Death is the antithesis of all he had experienced thus far. He lived in the primeval garden, suffused with knowledge of God and surrounded by life. What could death mean?

Mind Over Matter?

General Audience of October 31, 1979

When did Adam become conscious of his body?

I think this is an important question, because it speaks to a need we all have to understand our selves and our bodies. Where does one start and the other end? Are they even different things? Human beings are the only beings out there that are both physical and spiritual. I remember getting into a huge argument in one of my seminars when we read where Jung says that our feelings are a product of the physical - i.e., that we feel sad because we cry, instead of we cry because we feel sad. This claim led to a lot of impassioned debate, with people seeming almost insulted that their bodies could have such control over their spirit. I was one of these people! And it's no wonder - we hear things all the time that support the idea that the body's power is negligible. Mind over matter.

16 March 2010

Original Solitude

General Audience of October 10, 1979

The next big concept that John Paul II tackles is original solitude. This is not a term I had ever heard before ToB. Original solitude is pinpointed in the Bible in Genesis 2:18: "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a suitable partner for him." God-Yahweh applies this concept to man before he creates woman and distinguishes human beings as male and female, so even though the text says "man," original solitude applies to mankind as a whole.

According to JP2, original solitude has two meanings.
  1. Deriving from man's very nature
  2. Deriving from the relationship between male and female
So the question is, how do we know these meanings?

02 March 2010

The Perspective of Redemption

General Audiences of 5, 12, 19, and 26 September 1979

At the same time that man falls into sin he also begins to live in the theological perspective of redemption.

This is a particularly interesting and novel thought for me. JP2 says “He [man] is thus not merely shut out from original innocence due to his sinfulness, but also at the same time open to the mystery of the redemption realized in Christ and through Christ” (144). Mankind participates not only in the history of human sinfulness due to our inheritance from Adam and our own actions. We also participate in the history of salvation, as both its subject and co-creator. This is an awesome idea, that we partially author our salvation by exercising our free will to sin. It gives us both a lot of culpability and a lot of credit.

Let’s Start at the Very Beginning, a Very Good Place to Start

General Audiences of 5, 12, 19, and 26 September 1979

John Paul II introduces the Theology of the Body by talking about beginnings. He starts in the Gospel of Matthew.

Some Pharisees approached him, and tested him, saying, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?" He said in reply, "Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate." They said to him, "Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss (her)?" He said to them, "Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” Mt 19: 3-8

In his response Jesus mentions “the beginning” twice. Since anything that Jesus says twice is clearly very important, JP2 wants to know what this “beginning” is, and what it means.

As any of us would guess, the beginning is found in Genesis.


I realized that I should get my bibliography out of the way. All Scripture quotations on this blog are taken from the New American Bible. All page numbers for ToB are taken from the following edition:

Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body
Translator: Michael Waldstein
Publisher: Pauline Books and Media, Boston 2006