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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 6: The Body and Humanae vitae


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The Body and Humanae vitae


Although “theology of the body” offers a biblical anthropology which is refreshing and original, it builds upon the teaching of Humanae vitae. To give us more insight into the teaching of the encyclical the pope speaks of a “language of the body”.1 He gives us, moreover, a rigorous analysis of the virtue of temperance and of the gift of reverence as it applies to conjugal spirituality. This makes for an insightful, phenomenological account of a spirituality of married love.

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