The following is a continuation of Kelly Luttinen’s interview with
Fr Walter Schu, LC, on the Theology of the Body. In
this section, Fr Walter comments on the concept of man
behind Theology of the Body.
18. One of the themes of Theology
of the Body touches on how we are not going
to be able to heal the ills of this world,
like war, global warming, etc, until we heal the relationship
between man and woman. Can you discuss that?
This is at
the heart of TOB. All conflicts in the world come
from that inner conflict in man himself, in each person,
as a result of being wounded by sin Christ comes
to restore that original plan that God had for man
and woman before the fall. Adam is created in the
midst of the Garden of Eden, amidst all creation. He
is able to name all God’s creatures, and he has
understanding of them and has authority over them, and yet
he feels alone. Why? Out of all these creatures, there
is no one who can receive that gift of love,
of his very self, and no one who can make
that gift of love to him. When God creates Eve,
Adam exclaims, “This at last is bone of my bone
and flesh of my flesh.” This beautiful expression helps us
to see how Adam perceives the “person” of Eve through
John Paul II speaks of that original innocence
that Adam and Eve had. They are both naked and
yet they are not ashamed. How is this possible? Before
the fall, they see in each other’s bodies, not something
to be used, but someone – a person -- to
be loved. We lose this ability with the fall. This
is one of the challenges of the Theology of the
Body, to realize that Christ comes to bring that healing
to our relationships, to help us regain what we have
lost so we see others as persons to be loved
and not used.
This is one of the anthropological differences between
contraception and national family planning. NFP sees another as a
person in their wholeness, to be loved, and not reduced
to an object which can be used for sensual satisfaction.
gives an exalted and amazing view of what it means
to be a human person. Christ lifted up our nature
beyond anything we could have hoped for. Can you speak
This is part of John Paul II’s adequate
anthropology of the human person. To understand the fullness and
beauty of Humanae Vitae, we need to see true vision
of the human person. This what he did during those
5 years of Wednesday audiences.
The first stage of the anthropology
is “Original Man,” where Adam and Eve are in the
Garden before sin, showing their original experiences of innocence and
being naked without shame.
The second stage is “Historical Man,” in
which man and woman live after the fall, tainted by
sin, and experience shame before God and each other. This
is where lust first appears. They realize that they cannot
easily perceive the “spousal meaning of the body,” which is
the fact that they we were created to be a
gift to one another, because of lust.
When Christ sees man
“fallen” man, as John Paul II describes, he cannot just
past by and leave us wounded by the side of
the road, and he himself becomes the good Samaritan and
takes on our flesh. By his death and resurrection he
not only redeems our souls but our bodies, and makes
it possible to reclaim that original plan for man and
woman. He restores marriage to its original plan. And he
knows we cannot do this on our own, but only
with the help of his grace.
We see that with
the Pharisees, when they speak about divorce, Christ says, “In
the beginning it was no so,” and that, “What God
has joined, let no man rend asunder.” So he restores
marriage to its original plan, and he knows we cannot
live this on our own, but only with his grace
and sacraments and with prayer. Then it is possible to
reach that original idea of God’s plan, even on this
earth. But it will never come easy, without asceticism and
sacrifice, it never will come without personal effort. But Christ
is always there in the sacrament of reconciliation to help
us start anew.
20. There is a third part to the adequate
anthropology about what we are called to in the next
life, of which the love of man and woman, at
its best, gives us a glimpse.
Yes, and that is precisely
“eschatological man.” Eschatology is one of those fancy terms that
theologians toss about, but it is as simple about meeting
our final destiny to be with God in Heaven. Here
is where the true meaning of marriage is fulfilled. We
cannot understand who we are as persons without understanding the
spousal meaning of the body. If we are called to
be married on earth, but not in Heaven, how can
the spousal meaning of the body represent the meaning of
our existence? The fundamental answer comes in Christ’s incarnation. Christ
has taken on flesh. He is the Bridegroom, and we
as his Church, are in a sense, the bride. In
Heaven the meaning of marriage is fulfilled as each of
us is “married” to Christ, and will have that intimate
and person relationship with him, and through Christ, with each
This will be a completely spiritual relationship, and will
be more deep and more intimate that we can imagine
in this life.
And this is where celibacy comes in to
the Theology of the Body. Marriage complements and shows the
depth and richness of celibacy, and celibacy complements and shows
the beauty of marriage. Celibacy, in a certain way, is
making present here on this earth that anticipation of the
fullness of the meaning of marriage in heaven. Celibates have
that direct consecration to Christ that each of us will
have in heaven. Celibacy fulfills the spousal meaning of the
body. It is not self-giving to one human person, but
a universal self-giving to everyone through a personal self-giving to
Christ. In Heaven, we will have direct self-giving to Christ,
and through that universal self-giving to all.
21. Today there is
the buzzword of “tolerance” but no real idea of what
sin is. Our current generation is having difficulty understanding the
teachings of the Church, You discuss in your book a
proper idea of sin and redemption.
Tolerance is a necessary
Christian virtue. It would be hard to find someone more
tolerant than Christ, who was certainly tolerant of those who
crucified him. But you can also see it through the
eyes of GK Chesterton, who says that tolerance is the
virtue a society has left when it abandons all of
its other virtues and convictions. A negative aspect to tolerance
is where anything goes. Here tolerance is the opposite of
love, and the opposite of love is not hatred, but
indifference. In a certain sense, if you let another person
do anything, even if it goes against the way they
were created, that obviously is going to be harmful to
them. So this sort of tolerance is not true love.
True love is raising another to the dignity of how
they were created to be and their true calling in
22. I saw in the picture in the back of the
book that you got to meet John Paul II. What
was it like to meet the man many believe was
a living saint at the time?
That’s for sure. There’s no
doubt about that. He is John Paul the Great. He
is certainly praying for us in heaven right now. Well,
I had the grace, while I studying in Rome, where
I was able to serve Mass for him three times.
That was a real thrill. He always took the time
after Mass to stop and shake hands and talk for
a moment with all the acolytes. That picture was taken
during one of those times. I think it was the
Easter Sunday Mass. Just being in the Pope’s presence was
a tremendous experience. He had a happiness and peace and
joy that just radiated from him. You could tell that
when he looked at you in the eyes, for that
moment, you were the only person he was interested in,
as if you were the only one in the world.
You could just see how he had that individual love
for each person. It was joy to be in his
presence even if it wasn’t for very long
23. Considering John Paul
II’s call to a New Evangelization, can you discuss ways
people can get involved in spreading this message, perhaps with
the help of the Legion and Regnum Christi?
One apostolate of
Regnum Christi is called Familia, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They
have started a program for couples based on my book,
The Splendor of Love. Couples get together regularly to go
over the workbooks and discuss questions on the Theology of
the Body. They talk about how it can be part
of their life, with its joys and challenges. It is
a very beautiful way to make the Theology of the
Body a part of your life. Then it is not
just something you hear at a conference, and its sounds
nice, but then you go your own way.
For more information
call 763-391-0204, and ask for Jean Stolpestod, who will send
you information on the program. I’m convinced couples will get
some real concrete fruits from this study.
[Note: to read an
article about how Regnum Christi member Jennifer Haggerty is spreading
the message of Theology of the Body at St John
Vianney Catholic School in Illinois, click here. Along the
same lines, Everest Collegiate High School in Clarkston, Michigan is
currently teaching the Ascension Press TOB for Teens program. Father
Daniel Pajerski teaches it at the Boys’ School and consecrated
woman Jana Crea teaches it at the Girls’ School.]
24. Tell us
how to get a hold of your book?
The book is
published by New Hope Press in New Hope, Kentucky. They
have a toll free number 1-800- 764-8444.
Also , if
you’re looking for another good book on Theology of the
Body, I recommend Called to Love by Carl Anderson and
Fr. Granados. It is one of the best I’ve read.
Interview continues here.