Waldstein’s Workshop on Theology of the Body

Waldstein's Workshop on Theology of the Body

Last week Dr. Michael Waldstein conducted a workshop on Pope ‘s . I would like to share a few of the highlights of the workshop.

Waldstein opened the workshop with a personal testimony about the transformation that he and wife experienced when they studied together the texts of the theology of the body. The Pope’s writings about marriage touched them deeply. Many people have found his writings a source of personal growth and transformation.

Waldstein explained why this is so. John Paul II wrote from a solid philosophical and theological perspective. He was also guided by a keen sense of beauty and he enriched his writing through an appreciation of “lived experience.” One could speak of phenomenological and aesthetic dimensions of his approach to reality, but this makes another abstraction. First of all, John Paul II took much from St John of the Cross, who himself combined a Thomistic education with an attention to experience and to the beauty of divine love.

But in addition, John Paul II, for this topic of marriage and family  showed an appreciation of the beauty of human love and paid special attention to the experience of couples.Weigel reports that John Paul II wrote the Jeweler’s Shop from his memory of friends and their relationships.

Waldstein told the audience to remember “1-2-3”, that is in , p. 123, for the idea of the importance of approaching marriage and love through the appreciation of beauty. John Paul II said:

As a priest I realized this very early. I felt almost an inner call in this direction. It is necessary to prepare young people for marriage, it is necessary to teach them love. Love is not something that is learned, and yet there is nothing else as important to learn! As a young priest I learned to love human love. This has been one of the fundamental themes of my priesthood — my ministry in the pulpit, in the confessional, and also in my writing. If one loves human love, there naturally arises the need to commit oneself completely to the service of “fair love,” because love is fair, it is beautiful. After all, young people are always searching for the beauty in love. They want their love to be beautiful. If they give in to weakness, following models of behavior that can rightly be considered a “scandal in the contemporary world”,  in the depths of their hearts they still desire a beautiful and pure love. . . . As a young priest and pastor I came to this way of looking at young people and at youth, and it has remained constant all these years.

 These remarks set a great tone for the workshop and the study of the theology of the body. This great theological work culminates in a defense of Humanae Vitae.  But he perplexed the dissenters because he soars beyond the standard natural law argument and discloses the full human beauty of the teaching and the theological foundations in the mystery of the divine Trinity..

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