It’s summer and that means many couples will be entering into the Sacrament of Marriage. If you want to give a great gift to your future spouse, then I would suggest studying a bit of Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.
You can find information and guides at the Theology of the Body Institute’s website (tobinstitute.com). Learning about God’s plan for my husband and me, as male and female, as well as God’s call for communion with him changed the course of our relationship before we conferred the Sacrament of Marriage on one another. As you marry, remember that your Sacrament is in communion with the Blessed Trinity and that God is calling you to a deep encounter with him through your spouse.
Theology of the Body is a compilation of 129 talks that St. John Paul II gave at his Wednesday audiences from 1979 to 1984. They are a treasure trove of theological depth into what it means to be male and female in relation to one another and to God. Here are 10 amazing quotes to get you started:
1. Men and women bear the divine image.
Man, whom God created male and female, bears the divine image imprinted on his body ‘from the beginning.’ Man and woman constitute two different ways of the human ‘being a body’ in the unity of that image. – TOB January 2, 1980
2. Man and woman were made for one another.
Alone man does not completely realize this essence [of being a person]. He realizes it only by existing ‘with someone’ – and even more deeply and completely – by existing ‘for someone’…The communion of persons means existing in a mutual ‘for,’ in a relationship of mutual gift. – TOB January 9, 1980
3. Our bodies allow us to become a gift to others in love.
The human body includes right from the beginning…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. – TOB January 16, 1980
4. The body reveals the mystery of God’s love for human beings.
The body, and it alone, is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine. It was created to transfer into the visible reality of the world the mystery hidden since time immemorial in God [God’s love for man], and thus to be a sign of it. – TOB February 20, 1980
5. Marriage is the oldest revelation of God’s plan.
Marriage is the “most ancient revelation (manifestation) of the plan [of God] in the created world, with the definitive revelation and manifestation – the revelation that “Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her,” conferring on his redemptive love a spousal character and meaning. – TOB September 8, 1982
6. Marriage is the one-flesh union.
Marriage…is the sacrament in which man and woman, called to become ‘one flesh,’ participate in God’s own creative love. They participate in it both by the fact that, created in the image of God, they are called by reason of this image to a particular union (communio personarum), and because this same union has from the beginning been blessed with the blessing of fruitfulness. – TOB December 15, 1982
7. Husbands are called to love their wives as Christ loves and wives submit as they love Christ.
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The husband is above all, he who loves and the wife, on the other hand is she who is loved. One could even hazard the idea that the wife’s submission to her husband, understood in the context of the entire passage of Ephesians, signifies above all the “experiencing of love.” This is all the more so since this submission is related to the image of the submission of the Church to Christ, which certainly consists in experiencing his love. – TOB September 1, 1982
8. The vocation of marriage requires an understanding of the Theology of the Body.
Those who seek the accomplishment of their own human and Christian vocation in marriage are called, first of all, to make this theology of the body, whose beginning we find in the first chapters of Genesis, the content of their life and behavior. How indispensable is a thorough knowledge of the meaning of the body, in its masculinity and femininity, along the way of this vocation! A precise awareness of the nuptial meaning of the body, of its generating meaning, is necessary. – TOB April 2, 1980
9. Human sexuality is a gift of self in marriage and procreative.
The marriage act…’ at the same time ‘unites husband and wife in the closest intimacy’ and together makes them capable of generating new life.’ Both the one and the other happen ‘through the fundamental structure.’ Since this is so, then it follows that the human person (with the necessity proper to reason, logical necessity) must read at the same time the ‘twofold significance of the marriage act’ and also the ‘inseparable connection between the unitive significance and the procreative significance of the marriage act. Here we are dealing with nothing other than reading the language of the body in truth. – TOB July 11, 1984
10. Christ is the model for Christian marriage.
Christ manifests the love with which he has loved her [the Church] by giving himself for her. That love is an image and above all a model of the love which the husband should show to his wife in marriage, when the two are subject to each other ‘out of reverence for Christ. – TOB August 25, 1982