January 7, 2016

Saint John Paul II on the Nuptial Meaning of the Body

God creates Eve
Adam and Eve were created as gifts to one another. Their very bodies made this truth known. It was through their masculinity and femininity that they could express total self-giving. This is called “the nuptial meaning of the body.” The nuptial meaning of the body is central to Pope Saint John Paul’s Theology of the Body. He references it numerous times throughout his catechesis.

To love is the essential activity of the human person. We were created to love others and to receive love from others. Because our bodies make visible what is invisible in the world, it is through our bodies that we are called to be selfless and self-donative. This is evident most obviously in the conjugal union. Moreover, we are called to love and to serve others in numerous ways using our bodies. We cannot serve others unless we have a physical self to serve with. Man can only discover himself through a sincere gift of himself. This is at the heart of Christ’s teaching. It is also the heart of the Theology of the Body.

Before sin, Adam and Eve clearly perceived this truth. After sin, it became cluttered and obscure. For the children of Adam and Eve it remains so. We struggle daily to reject sin and selfishness in order to love and serve others more fully. In the beginning love was undiluted and spontaneous; an instantaneous impulse. Adam and Eve served each other without thinking. It was in their spiritual DNA to do so.

Now with historical man, [that is man after the first sin] we do not automatically love as God loves. It takes work and conscious effort. In many ways it is a battle among our heart, our will, and our body. In the beginning there was no struggle. At the end of human history, we will see God face to face in Heaven. On that day, we will love perfectly like God loves us, and sin will be no more.

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