Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Love's Creativity

John Paul II on Love & Responsibility
Love & Responsibility Foundation
Summer 2002 Edition
“Man must reconcile himself to his natural greatness,” declares Pope John Paul II in his book, Love and Responsibility , written while the future Pope was still known as [Bishop] Karol Wojtyla.

John Paul II is a great man, but even more, he is a believer in our own greatness as human beings. Only the human being can love, and only the person is able to bring into this world another person capable of yet more love. It is this capacity of man to love — and to bring love into the world — that gives us our “natural” splendor.

“As a young priest I learned to love human love,” the Holy Father tells us. “This has been one of the fundamental themes of my priesthood — my ministry in the pulpit, in the confessional, and also in my writing.”

This publication, John Paul II on Love & Responsibility, pulls together excerpts from the Pope’s many writings on love — drawing from his works of philosophy, his literary endeavors as playwright, his statements as Pope, and two private letters he wrote to a young woman.

The Pope was popular with young people during his years of service as a university chaplain, and the book Love and Responsibility was born of his work with these young people who wanted to learn from him “how to live.”

The Holy Father argues in Love and Responsibility that if love is to be beautiful, if it is to be whole and complete, it must be “fully integrated,” meaning it must incorporate in correct order of priority all the elements of a true love.

“People generally believe that love can be reduced largely to a question of the genuineness of feelings,” but “love in the full sense of the word is a virtue, not just an emotion, and still less a mere excitement of the senses.” . . .

Here is where the importance of the “integration of love” becomes clear. A love that is merely an “excitement of the senses,” that does not unite two persons in a true interpersonal union, is a love that “squanders” this “natural energy.” True, enduring love remains elusive.

Thus, couples, “while cultivating as intensively as they can” the passions that draw them close, must “endeavor to achieve objectivity” for “only if it is objectively good for two persons to be together can they belong to each other.”

Love’s Objective Dimension

How can we know if a love is objectively good? For the character Christopher in the Holy Father’s play, The Jeweler’s Shop, only “one question is important: Is it creative?”

Here we arrive at the true “grandeur” of love: We each have the capacity to create, to give birth — to give new life to others — both physically, in the form of children, and spiritually, in a legacy of inspired friends and neighbors.

When we each confront ourselves with the question — Why am I alive? — we should know the answer. We have been born so that we may give birth to others — in all that we do. Our physical birth is a metaphor for the spiritual birth we are called upon — continually — to give to others.

“I am also many times unborn”

Our mission of giving spiritual rebirth to others — being “spiritual parents” to those we come across in our lives — is a beautiful vocation, and we must know it, for who among us cannot say, along with the child Monica in Radiation of Fatherhood, “though born once, I am also many times unborn and want to be born many times.”

Or, as the playwright Pope has Monica, looking up to her father, more poetically say:
I am putting my feet in the water. What a soothing coolness, what freshness, what rebirth! Life enters anew into all my cells. Ah, as I am being born anew from this forest stream, I ask: Be water for me! I ask: Be water for me!
We are born to “be water” for others. . . .

It is the irrevocable gift of self, whether made to a spouse or directly to God Himself, that is the decisive act of our lives. Through this gift, “the lover ‘goes outside’ the self to find a fuller existence in another.”

“Take away from love the fullness of self surrender, the completeness of personal commitment, and what remains will be a total denial and negation of it.”

Read the rest of this informative summary of Love and Responsibility here (.pdf format).

1 comment:

She said...

Looking forward to reading this.

You're posting so fast I can barely keep up. Thanks for all your hard work.