Heh, both of these are due tomorrow, but I procrastinated. Should’ve had them done early so that I could have a week to put them aside and then look over them and evaluate. Ah well. So here they are, and I guess I’ll put them aside for tonight and go over them tomorrow before I leave… haha.
Essay #1: On the Communion of Persons by which Man Images God
In the beginning, God gave dominion over all creation to Adam. It was Adam’s role, then to care for God’s creation. Through his interaction with all the various creatures that God had placed in his care, Adam realized that he was different. He knew in the depths of his being that he was in need of one like himself; that is, if he could not determine exactly what it was he lacked, he was very conscious of his loneliness. He understood that it was a loneliness that could not be filled by anything that God had created thus far.
The Holy Father refers to this loneliness as Original Solitude, and it was through this solitude that Adam discovered his purpose as a human being. It allowed him to understand, when he saw Eve, that the need inside of him was for unity with another like himself, and that it was this need that defined him. He further understood that two humans first needed to experience a separate sort of solitude for the unity to follow. Adam’s experience of Original Solitude was unique and unrepeatable; after the creation of Eve, never again would man experience solitude in such totality.
The Creation story addresses not only the creation of separate beings, but also the creation of the communio personarum, that is, the communion of persons. That man was made in the image and likeness of God meant that he was to image God in His Unity as much as he imaged God in His Solitude. This is made possible in the communio personarum, which perfectly images the Trinity.
The Lord God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man. When he brought her to the man, the man said: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body. (Gen 2:22 – 24) From the beginning, man and woman were created for each other. Note that woman was taken from man’s side. She was not taken from his head; she was not intended to rule him. She was not taken from his feet; she was not intended to be dominated by him. She was taken from his side, she was equal to him, yet they had their different roles, just as the Father is the Father and the Son is the Son, and it was the Son who became Human, not the Father, yet they are One, and that One is God. Just as Their Differences do not detract from Their Equality, neither then do the differences of man and woman.
As the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are One, and yet They are distinct and separate Persons, so in the unity of man and woman, they truly become one flesh, one soul, one life, and yet remain distinct and separate in their masculinity and femininity. And as the Holy Spirit’s existence images the Love between the Father and the Son, so the child created images the love between a man and a woman. Thus, it is by the communio personarum that man fully becomes the image of God.
Essay #2: On the Expression of Love by Man as God Intended
In his General Audience of October 10, 1984, His Holiness, JPII said, “If the powers of concupiscence try to detach the language of the body from the truth.. the power of love instead strengthens it ever anew in that truth, so that the mystery of the redemption of the body can bear fruit in it.” He also says that “… love… is a power… a capacity of the human soul, of a theological nature.” So love, as a power given to man, is what enables man to become like God. God is, by definition, Love, and uncorrupted Love, ultimately, God, is, at all times, inclined towards the fullness of good. Thus, pure and perfect Love, is our strongest weapon against sin, because, by its very nature, it defies all evil.
The marital act is what defines the communio personarum. It is a strictly human expression, the highest expression of love that man is capable of, and when correctly understood and kept within the confines of marriage as God intended it to be, it completes that image of God that man is meant to become. In the Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI says that, “This love is above all fully human, a compound of sense and spirit. It is not, then, merely a question of natural instinct or emotional drive. It is also, and above all, an act of the free will, whose trust is such that it is meant not only to survive the joys and sorrows of daily life, but also to grow, so that husband and wife become in a way one heart and one soul, and together attain their human fulfillment.” So the marital act is not merely a physical act, but a spiritual one as well, and the spiritual aspect of the act cannot be separated from the physical aspect. This is what sin — or, “the power of concupiscence” — tries to do. It tries to separate the fact that it is a language of the soul as well as of the body. It denies the power that God gave to man to image Him through the act itself.
Sin further mocks the marital act and turns it into an occasion of pleasure without responsibility. The marital act was created by God to be a language of unity and procreation. The world tries to tell us that we can partake in this act without speaking the language in its fullness, but the world has not the right or the power to change the meaning that God gave to the act; it can only twist our understanding of it. The Second Vatican Council says, “Children are really the supreme gift of marriage and contribute in the highest degree to their parents’ welfare.” Unity and procreation, “the two meanings of the conjugal act,” as JPII puts it, are not to be separated, either from the act, or from each other.
JPII concludes his Audience by explaining that the practice of chastity, both before marriage and during the marriage, protects the sanctity of the marital act, which is man’s highest expression of love. Love, true love, not a feeling, but a conscious choice, is not something to be repressed. How could it be, if it is our strongest defense in the face of sin? If Love is, by nature, inclined at all times towards the fullness of good, then the practice of chastity is simply to understand and apply a correct understanding of Love to every minute of our lives — in short, nothing less than to Love perfectly.