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Self-Giving, Self-Mastery

St John Paul II on Men, Women and Conjugal Chastity

Alan O'Sullivan OP

The dignity of the person has always been a key theme of Pope John Paul II. Perhaps less well known is his emphasis on self-mastery as intrinsic to such dignity. In the love of man and woman, such mastery paves the way to self-giving and provides a richer, deeper experience of the union of persons. It also gives a new sensitivity to the beauty of masculinity and femininity as sexuality is seen in its original holiness: that is, by sharing in the Creator’s vision of the body. In this book, the author traces this daring portrait of human love back to the early writings of Karol Wojtyła.

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Chapter 1: Love, Chastity and the Person


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Love, Chastity and the Person


Wojtyła’s thought did not develop overnight; there is a long period of gestation. His early thoughts on chastity date to the year 1952 with an article titled “Instinct, Love, Marriage”. It continues with two more articles before the publication of Love and Responsibility in 1960. In this early period the seeds of his mature work are present. It revolves around a sense that the meaning of chastity was being lost in contemporary culture.1 This was happening not only at a popular level, but at a high intellectual level. As he elaborates on some reasons for this, he gives a rearticulation of how one might speak meaningfully of chastity to one’s contemporaries.2

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