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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 5: Ethos of the Redemption of the Body


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Ethos of the Redemption of the Body


As Christ “reveals man to himself” he offers him a new way of “living the body”, a new “scale of values”. Man is not left in despair, or subjugated in his heart to the “threefold concupiscence”.1 The Sermon on the Mount offers “a new ethos” revealing the dignity of the person, body and soul. It differs from unsatisfactory approaches to the body and teaches man the importance of “temperance” and “mastery” of desires.2 St. Paul’s teaching on life “according to the Spirit” echoes the new “order of values” proclaimed in the Sermon on the Mount.3

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