Introduction to the Annual Priest Retreat
Given by Father Thomas Loya
January 2007, Entitled:
“A Theology of the Body” by Pope John Paul II
In the book by Luke Timothy Johnson entitled The Real Jesus, the author distinguishes the four real from the several and well known false gospels by the following criteria:
In the authentic gospels, the essence is clear: the Pascal Mystery, for example the suffering, bodily death and true resurrection of Jesus Christ is treated honestly and without back peddling. In the false gospels, or the inauthentic ones, all of the authors shied away from the Pascal Mystery. They seemed to be afraid of the truth that says: real love suffers, makes sacrifices, dies!
Pope John Paul II brought with him from Krakow the text of his next book, his next course, it was “a study in human love”. His starting point was this:
- a deep and abiding love and respect for the human person;
- a love for human love, and the profound God-given meaning for sex;
- a definition of love taken from the mystics, namely that love is a self-giving, a self- sacrifice for the good of the other. This gives meaning and joy both to the one who loves and to the one who is loved. This is made clear in Christ’s sacrificial love for us and in his “complete joy”.
Thus “A Theology of the Body” was born. The Real Jesus is the One who teaches us about love, the One who lived and died for others. My brothers, this is true celibacy, this is true marriage: a way of being for others.
I asked Father Tom Loya to give this retreat for several reasons:
- First, I have my own personal experience of him in Rome, knowing how dedicated he was and is to Christ and to His Church.
- Second, I know of his great love for John Paul II, and
- Third, I appreciate his commitment to help us better understand Pope John Paul II’s important work on human love.
This essential insight into human love is at the very heart of our priestly ministry. And so I welcome Father Tom to help us reflect this week on Pope John Paul II’s “A Theology of the Body.”
+ Bishop Gregory J. Mansour
(Reprinted with permission.)