Workshop (6) c- The Freedom and Beauty of the Gift

The thrid and last of the series on the spousal meaning of the body, selected by Dr Waldstein to display the heart of the teaching on the Theology of the Body is from the general audience of January 16 2008 and it may be found here.

First, the notion of gift preuspposes the freedom of the man and woman to give themselves; there must a measure of self-possession and self-restraint.

It can be said that, created by Love, endowed in their being with masculinity and femininity, they are both “naked” because they are free with the freedom of the gift. This freedom lies at the basis of the nuptial meaning of the body. The human body, with its sex, and its masculinity and femininity seen in the very mystery of creation, is not only a source of fruitfulness and procreation, as in the whole natural order. It includes right from the beginning the nuptial attribute, that is, the capacity of expressing love, that love in which the person becomes a gift and – by means of this gift – fulfills the meaning of his being and existence. . . .  We mean here freedom especially as mastery of oneself (self control).

John Paul II also finds in this passage and in this phenomenon the truth about man as expressed in Gaudium et spes 24.3:

This truth about man, which the conciliar text states precisely in the words quoted above, has two main emphases. The first affirms that man is the only creature in the world that the Creator willed “for its own sake.” The second consists in saying that this same mm, willed by the Creator in this way right from “the beginning,” can find himself only in the disinterested giving of himself. Now, this truth about man, which seems in particular to grasp the original condition connected with the very beginning of man in the mystery of creation, can be reread in both directions, on the basis of the conciliar text.

The teaching also highlights the beauty of love and the importance of the uniqueness and unrepeatability of the person:

The human body, oriented interiorly by the sincere gift of the person, reveals not only its masculinity or femininity on the physical plane, but reveals also such a value and such a beauty as to go beyond the purely physical dimension of sexuality. In this manner awareness of the nuptial meaning of the body, connected with man’s masculinity-femininity, is in a way completed. On the one hand, this meaning indicates a particular capacity of expressing love, in which man becomes a gift. On the other hand, the capacity and deep availability for the affirmation of the person corresponds to it. This is, literally, the capacity of living the fact that the other – the woman for the man and the man for the woman – is, by means of the body, someone willed by the Creator for his or her own sake. The person is unique and unrepeatable, someone chosen by eternal Love.

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