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The Artist as Image of God as Creator.

Rev John Riccardo


A weary pilgrim walks into St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Exhausted from the trans-Atlantic flight, she wanted to be sure she saw this holy shrine as soon as possible. No sooner does she enter the Basilica than she notices a large group of Asian tourists standing to her right. Their attention is transfixed on something behind a large wall of glass. The pilgrim pushes her way closer. Suddenly, quite unprepared, she finds herself confronted by Michelangelo's
Pietá. The exquisite beauty of the sculpture stands in stark contrast to the horror of the reality depicted: a mourning mother holding her only son, dead after a tortuous three hours. Almost unaware, the pilgrim finds her thoughts pulled into the scene. The sculpture has become something of a window, enabling her to enter into a new world. St. Peter's seemed noisy as she first entered, but now it is somehow quiet. Nothing exists but this scene. She is quite simply awed.

The pilgrim is herself a mother of but one child, and in this new world she finds herself identifying with Mary, the sorrowful mother. She discovers that her thoughts have become Mary's. She can almost feel the dead weight of the lifeless body resting in her own arms. Why have they done this? How can this be, that this son of mine, conceived so miraculously, could end so ignobly? The memory of a refrain from a liturgy now long passed rises to the fore:
Come this way and see if there is any sorrow that can rival mine. The sound of a camera crashing to the floor abruptly brings the pilgrim back from that other world. She is aware that tears are running down her cheek. Such is the power of art.

Not all depictions of Mary, however, have been so favorable. In recent years headlines have told the story of a major metropolitan mayor refusing to allow a local art museum to display an icon of Mary surrounded by elephant dung. The artist shouted "
artistic freedom," and the mayor was accused of censorship. Even Mary's son has not escaped. Some years ago a rage broke out over a display of a crucifix submerged in the artist's own urine. It was entitled "Piss Christ." Again, freedom of artistic expression was the rallying cry.

C.S. Lewis wrote years ago,

"In the highest aesthetic circles one now hears nothing about the artist's duty to us. It is all about our duty to him. He owes us nothing; we owe him 'recognition,' even though he has never paid the slightest attention to our tastes, interests, or habits…But this change is surely part of our changed attitude to work…there is a tendency to regard every trade as something that exists chiefly for the sake of those who practice it." [1]

More recently, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger has written that "creativity", as it is often now considered, is tinted with a Marxist world-view. In this world-view, the universe itself is meaningless, and came into being through "blind evolution." Accordingly, man can fashion whatever he wants.

"Modern theories of art think in terms of a nihilistic kind of creativity. Art is not meant to copy anything. Artistic creativity is under the free mastery of man, without being bound by norms or goals and subject to no questions of meaning." [2]

It is the purpose of this paper to examine the role of art as it pertains to a right understanding of the theology of the body. [3] I will focus on the thought of Pope John Paul II as it has been expressed in his Wednesday catechesis on the theology of the body, his Letter to Artists, [4] and selected homilies and addresses that he has given over the course of his pontificate. Heeding the observation of Lewis, it will be seen that the Holy Father gives equal emphasis to the duty or task of the artist as well as to his gifts. Heeding the observation of Ratzinger, it will be seen that the Holy Father challenges artists to help bring man out of his despair, and to show forth the greatness and the dignity which is uniquely his.

The paper will proceed as follows. I will begin with some reflections of the Holy Father on the artist as the image of God the Creator. I will then discuss how the artist is the recipient of both a gift and a task. From here I will move on to talk more directly about art, the various distinctions within the field of art, and how the human body factors into this. At this critical point I will address the criteria that John Paul established for determining the ethicalness of artistic representations of the human body. Some thoughts about the role of the observer will follow and then, finally, a conclusion. What will emerge is that Pope John Paul II issues a challenge to artists of today to use their talents and skills to help reveal the wonder of creation in general, and the human person in particular. Far from being censorious, the Pope is trying to point out how art can help modern man escape from an attitude of despair and meaninglessness (see n. 11 in Letter to Artists on this, especially role of beauty).

The Artist as Image of God the Creator

Pope John Paul begins his Letter to Artists by calling to mind the reality that the artist has a peculiar ability to sense "
something of the pathos" that filled God as he looked upon the creation that sprang from his fingertips. [5] Indeed, the very first line of the Letter is taken from the Book of Genesis: "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good" (Gen 1:31). This, the Holy Father claims, is supposed to be the response of all artists as they consider the work of their imaginations and hands.

After telling his audience that he feels a "
close link" with them because of the artistic experiences that have marked his own life, Pope John Paul makes three significant points regarding the artist as image of God the Creator. The first point is that God alone is properly called the Creator.

"The one who creates bestows being itself, he brings something out of nothing." In contrast to this, the craftsman "uses something that already exists, to which he gives form and meaning."

In this regard, all men are craftsmen in a general sense, and for two reasons. First, because God gave dominion of the earth to man, and, second, because each person is entrusted with the gift of life - the "material" of his own humanity - which he is to fashion into "a work of art, a masterpiece." [6] So, then, God is the Creator and man appears "more than ever" in the image of God through his "artistic activity." [7]

The second significant point flows directly from the truth that God alone is the Creator and man is but the craftsman: God allows man to
participate in the work of creation. [8]

"With loving regard, the divine Artist passes on to the human artist a spark of his own surpassing wisdom, calling him to share in his creative power." [9]

In this sharing, however, the infinite gap that exists between Creator and creature remains, or, as Nicholas of Cusa put it,

"Creative art, which it is the soul's good fortune to entertain, is not to be identified with that essential art which is God himself, but is only a communication of it and a share in it." [10]The "divine breath of the Creator Spirit" reaches out to the human person, stirring his creative power, giving him a kind of "inner illumination," and awakening "the energies of mind and heart" to conceive ideas and give them form in works of art. This experience on the part of the artist who participates in God's own creative genius is, analogically speaking, a "moment of grace." [11]

So, then, God, the only Creator, out of pure goodness and generosity, allows that which he has created in his own image and likeness to participate in his own creative power.

The third significant point likewise flows from what comes before:
what is made reveals something about the maker. It is not enough to consider that one has the ability to make something. That one is capable of producing objects says nothing about his own moral character.[12] While there is, to be sure, a distinction to be made between the "moral" and "artistic" aspects, there is also a connection between them.

"In producing a work, artists express themselves to the point where their work becomes a unique disclosure of their own being…Works of art speak of their authors; they enable us to know their inner life." [13]

While the Pope does not specifically speak of God at this point, we could apply this same truth to him: God's creation reveals his goodness, his generosity, his magnaminity, and most of all his love. [14]

So it is also with the one who shares in God's creative power. The craftsman, too, reveals something about his inner life by the products of his hands. In what he fashions, the artist reveals his own personality; it becomes "
an exceptional mode of expression for his spiritual growth." In his creation, however, the craftsman not only reveals something of his own inner life, he also reveals what he thinks of the world at large, and specifically, what he thinks of the human person, which will then have an impact on the viewer of the art produced. [15]

From a brief look at the introduction of Pope John Paul's Letter to Artists, then, we glean three key points: God alone is the Creator. Man, who is created in God's own image and likeness, participates in God's ability to create. Finally, by the work of his hands, the artist reveals something of his own inner life.

The Gift and Task of the Artist

In talking about artistic ability, much of the discussion usually centers on the gift that the individual has received. Us mere mortals accordingly gaze with mouths agape at the ability of a Caravaggio, a Raphael or a Michelangelo. But it is necessary as well to emphasize that with every gift comes a corresponding task, a duty to perform. This is particularly important to consider when discussing the role of the artist in the culture at large.

An artist receives his talent from God. It is a participation in God's own divine, creative spark. Just as God does all that he does for the good of his creation, so too the artist must put his talents at the service of the common good. In the words of John Paul II, there is an "
obligation not to waste this talent but to develop it, in order to put it at the service of [his] neighbor and of humanity as a whole." [16]

Over and over again in his writings and homilies John Paul II speaks of the need to transform the culture.
[17]We are, he says, engaged in a battle between a "culture of death" and a "culture of life." The "culture of death" has widespread causes, most notably, distorted concepts of subjectivity and freedom, a loss of the sense of God, and a practical materialism. [18] Moreover, rationalism has crept increasingly deeper into our thoughts about the human person, and with it has come the tendency to see man ever more in a dualistic sense, whereby the body is reduced to a machine. This rationalism ultimately ends up reducing all to "the desperate search for gain" and the good "comes to mean what is pleasing or useful at a particular moment." [19]

The role of the artist in the midst of all of this is a pivotal one. The Holy Father writes encouragingly,

"Society needs artists…who [will] ensure the growth of the person and the development of the community by means of that supreme art form which is the 'art of education.'" By being obedient to their inspiration in creating works that are full of worth and beauty, artists "not only enrich the cultural heritage of each nation and of all humanity, but they also render an exceptional service in favor of the common good." [20] Artists have "a special responsibility, which is not only artistic, but also ethical in nature." [21] This responsibility has to do with the fact that the creation of the image of the human body imposes certain obligations on the artist, obligations that are not only aesthetic but also ethical. [22]

What is this service that artists are to perform in favor of the common good? From whence comes this special responsibility? The answer is to be found by looking at the context of the Holy Father's reflections on the ethical demands of art as they are given in his Wednesday catecheses on the theology of the body.

The Context of the Pope's Thought on Art

The Wednesday audiences first began with an extensive look at the story of creation, and in particular the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God. The scriptural foundation for this teaching were the words of Jesus in Mt 19, wherein he referred the Pharisees "
to the beginning." With this as his justification, the Holy Father leads his audience through an elaborate teaching on the Book of Genesis, especially the first three chapters. This catechesis lasted from September 5, 1979 to April 2, 1980.

The second segment on the theology of the body focuses on the New Testament, and takes as its scriptural foundation Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, especially at it is recorded in St. Matthew's Gospel. This teaching lasted from April 16, 1980 until May 6, 1981. Particular attention is paid throughout these homilies to Jesus' words,

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Mt 5:27-28).

Throughout this second segment the Pope emphasizes the interior dimension of man, and not just the external acts that he performs. At the same time, however, John Paul makes clear that this

"principle of purity of heart…[is] transformed from the existential sphere of attitudes and ways of behavior to the intentional sphere of creation and artistic reproduction." [23]

As the end of his catechesis on the Sermon on the Mount draws near, John Paul II makes a key transition from the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount to the Magisterial teachings of the Church on marriage and family. He argues that the teaching of the Magisterium can only be understood in light of Jesus' teaching. "The pronouncements of the Church," he writes, particularly as found in Gaudium et spes, Part II, Chapter 1, and Humanae Vitae, "aim at applying Christ's words to the here and now." [24] Indeed, he reiterates, a proper theology of body - which stems from the Words of Scripture - is "indispensable" for an "adequate understanding of the pronouncements of the Magisterium of the modern Church." [25]

Although the Pope mentions several passages from Paul VI's
Humanae Vitae at this time, particular attention is paid to n. 22. This text reads,

"On this occasion, we wish to draw the attention of educators, and of all who perform duties of responsibility in regard to the common good of human society, to the need of creating an atmosphere favorable to education in chastity, that is to the triumph of liberty over license by means of respect for the moral order." [26]

It is precisely this line from Humanae Vitae that serves as the key to understanding one of the most pivotal roles of the artist in society for John Paul II. It will be the special task of the artist to help foster this

"atmosphere favorable to chastity," for this atmosphere is threatened not only "in the way in which the relations and society of living men take place, but also in the area of the objectivizations characteristic of works of culture." [27]

This will entail a two-fold obligation on the artist. On a more positive note, it means that he is to help society come to grasp ever more profoundly the dignity of the human person in his body, and to help foster an awareness of the body as the revelation of the person. On a more negative note, it means that he must shy away from all representations of the human body that are not in accord with these principles.

Art and the Human Body: Determining the Criteria for the Ethical Nature of Artistic Representations of the Human Body

In taking up the theme of the human body as depicted in art, it is necessary to make some critical distinctions. Generally speaking, there are two categories. The first category includes those forms of artistic expression where one person creates in himself a work of art. Examples of this would include theater and ballet. The second category includes those forms of artistic expression where the body becomes the model of the work of art. Examples of this would include painting, sculpture, the plastic arts, even photography and film (although in the latter two cases the actual living person is reproduced, whereas in the former ones the model is transfigured). [28]

It must be immediately pointed out that in the second category of artistic expression there is always present the danger that the human body will become an anonymous object.
[29] This is important because of the simple fact that the body expresses the person. To see another person is to come into contact with one like myself, another who has been created in the image and likeness of God. As such, she is equal in dignity to me, and can never be reduced to being a mere object, since she is also a subject, another "I." [30] A body never exists in the abstract; it is always the body of a person. Simply put, "We cannot consider the body an objective reality outside the personal subjectivity of man, of human beings, of male and female." [31]

However, through works of art, especially the plastic arts, man is able to meet the reality of the body outside of real, living men. This is what can be called an aesthetic experience: a person is viewing a work of art. The work of art, though, is a human body, and the viewer is deeply bound up with the meaning of the model for this body, for he is a human person who also expresses himself by his body!

The reason that this can be a problem is because the human body - particularly

"the naked human body in the whole truth of its masculinity and femininity - has the meaning of a gift of the person to the person." [32]

This is what the Pope means by saying that the body is nuptial. The body has inscribed within it the fundamental call to form a communion of persons and to participate in it. [33] In any artistic representation of the human body, however, the sense of the body as being made for another is uprooted. In every kind of artistic representation, though in a different way, depending on which medium is employed, "the human body loses that deeply subjective meaning of the gift. It becomes an object destined for the knowledge of many." [34]

It is important to recall here the fact that historical man has as his fundamental interior state the threefold lust of which St. John speaks: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
[35] "Various motives can induce, incite and even press man to act in a way contrary to the requirements of the dignity of the human body." [36] This is a factor that must not be forgotten when discussing the realm of artistic creation, especially when the subject of the art is the human body.

Because of these factors, the question then arises, "
Is it legitimate to portray the naked human body in a work of art?" This is, the Pope maintains, a delicate question. The mere thought of depicting the body in such a way

"seems to bring with it a serious potential threat to the whole sphere of meanings, peculiar to the body of man and woman because of the personal character of the human subject and the character of communion of interpersonal relations."

As we will see, at issue here is the risk of making the human person anonymous, objectifying it, and thereby losing the inherent meaning inscribed in it by the Creator. Ultimately, the question can only be answered in the affirmative so long as certain essential points are kept in mind. Two operative principles must be paid attention to. The first is the concept of shame.

Considerable space is devoted to this concept in the early catecheses on the theology of the body. According to the analysis of John Paul II, shame "
expresses the essential rules for the 'communion of persons.'" [39] It is something that simultaneously keeps one human being away from another and seeks to draw them closer personally. In the beginning, as Genesis 2:25 makes clear, there was no shame between man and woman. The beginning of shame can be traced to that experience when one person reduced another person interiorly "to a mere 'object for me'." As such, one person became a threat to the other person. [40]

With the fall arose the need for privacy with regard to our bodies, since lust now dominated the vision of man and woman, obscuring the fact that the body is the revelation of the person and destined to be a gift for another, and threatening to reduce the other to an object. In this new, historical situation, shame now serves in a positive fashion, indirectly insuring the possibility of mutual donation. This mutual donation brings us to the second operative principle:
the gift.

In earlier audiences, the Pope highlighted the fact that "
the body in its nakedness expresses precisely 'the element' of the gift." [41] "The human body, in its nakedness, becomes the source of a particular interpersonal communication." [42] This interpersonal communication was possible because lust did not yet dominate the vision of man, so that the body was able to be understood as the revelation of the person, who has interiorly inscribed within the gift of self. The body, especially in the man-woman relationship, is that by which one person makes the gift of self to the other person.

Bearing these two principles in mind, then, we are able to name the essential criteria for determining to what extent the naked human body may be portrayed in art. The Pope writes,

"When in the work of art or by means of the media of audiovisual reproduction the right to the privacy of the body in its masculinity or femininity is violated,"

the representation is unethical and not in keeping with the dignity of the human person. This criterion, then, has to do with the concept of shame. Again he writes,

"When that intimate and constant destination to the gift and to mutual donation, which is inscribed in that femininity and masculinity through the whole structure of its being is violated, the representation is unethical and not in keeping with the dignity of the human person. [43]

This criterion has to do with the concept of the gift.

Let me offer a summary thus far. The body belongs to a person. It is the revelation of that person. That person is inscribed in his foundation to form a communion of persons and participate in that communion. As such, the body is to be received as a gift by another person.
[44]The general criterion for determining if a portrayal of the naked human body is ethical is whether or not it takes into account this "whole truth about man, about what is particularly personal and interior in him." [45] In the artistic representation of a naked human body there is always lurking the danger that the element of being a "gift" for another is "suspended." In particular, it is suspended

"in the dimension of an unknown reception and an unforeseen response. Thereby it is in a way threatened in the order of intention, in the sense that it may become an anonymous object of appropriation, an object of abuse." [46]

At heart here, then, is the reality that an image of a person, who is himself a subject, becomes an object, and even worse, "an anonymous object." [47]

Having said all this, the Pope is well aware of the fact that historically man has often been represented in his naked human body. In addition, throughout history the whole dynamic of the relationship of a man and woman in love has been explored, visually as well as in literature. Even Scripture, especially the Songs of Songs, employs such language, which is often enough to make modern readers blush! In both art and literature, the subject of the human person in this interior dimension has been frequent and important. He makes clear that he is not questioning this right on the part of the ancients.

It is not at all the case, however, that a study of the artistic portrayal of man's body through the ages will meet the ethical demands laid down by the right to privacy and the need to maintain the aspect of the body as gift. To be sure, "
above all in the great period of Greek classical art," there were works of art that took as their subject the naked human body, and helped to reveal something of the whole truth about man. [49]These works "bear within them, almost hidden, an element of sublimation. This leads the viewer, through the body, to the whole personal mystery of man." From these works "we learn in a way that nuptial meaning of the body which corresponds to, and is the measure of, 'purity of heart.'" [50]

However, a survey of history will also unveil other works of art, which took the naked human body as its subject, and which do not meet the ethical demands placed upon the artist. Instead, these images "
arouse objection in the sphere of man's personal sensitivity." This objection is not due to the human body per se, since the body is always inherently full of dignity. Rather, the objection stems from "the quality or way" of the body being portrayed or reproduced. In this objection, the viewer is able to somehow catch sight of the intentionality of the artist, namely, that he is intent on reducing the human body to the level of an object, particularly an object of enjoyment for the satisfaction of concupiscence. [51]

Here it is opportune to mention that in the realm of artistic representations of the naked human body there is not only a demand placed upon the artist; there is also a demand placed upon the viewer. Indeed, John Paul II says that there is both what he calls an "
ethos of the image" (pertaining to the artist), and an "ethos of seeing" (pertaining to the viewer). And the whole process of communication takes place between these two dimensions. [52]

Concluding Remarks on the Significance of Art for the Theology of the Body

That there is need for the creation of an "
atmosphere favorable to chastity" is hardly debatable today. It is estimated that up to 70% of all activity on the internet is connected to pornography. The covers of magazines at supermarket checkout counters today would have been considered "adult" in years past, and appropriately hid in the back, or at least out of the eyesight of children. The quest for sexual pleasure seems to dominate TV talk-shows, self-help books, and virtually every media available.

In the midst of all this, there is discernible a sense of despair, something of the despair that Cardinal Ratzinger wrote about above. This despair arises, in large part, from a sense that this life is all there is, and that, accordingly, I better try to get as much out of it as I can. Sexuality, detached from its true meaning, becomes meaningless, reduced to a search for pleasure, albeit mutual oftentimes. But the fruit of this tree is rotten beyond belief. Divorce is more common now than a lasting marriage. The very institution of marriage is being threatened and redefined. Countless people are shackled with sexual addictions.

Precisely in the midst of this situation the Church speaks! She proclaims loud and clear that only in the mystery of Christ is man made knowable.
[53] The fact that God himself has become Incarnate, has taken on our flesh, reveals the greatness of man. [54]Most of all, in Jesus' life, death, and resurrection the inherent dignity of every single human being is revealed - no matter what stage of its existence, no matter how great its "quality of life" may be.

In addition, and contrary to all the materialistic messages aimed at modern man - which tell him that happiness is to be found in a faster car, or a bigger house, or a more beautiful wife - the Church proclaims that man will only find fulfillment by making a sincere gift of himself.
[55]It is at this point that the human body emerges in a particular way. In opposition to all dualistic understandings of man, which create a split between his conscious-experiencing self and his body, the Church maintains that man is one; he is a combination of spirit and matter. He is body-soul.[56] He is a "body-person." [57]What he does reveals who he is. It is by means of his body that man is able to form a communion of persons. It is by means of his body that man is able to make a sincere gift of himself.

Here is where the need for artists who will make known these truths about man comes to the fore. The Church, quite frankly, needs art. Art is able to make visible - and attractive! - the invisible. Art is able to make perceptible the world of the spirit. Art is able "
to reflect in some way the infinite beauty of God and raise people's minds to him." Art is able to help penetrate the mystery of man, to present the whole truth about man in his interior and personal dimension. [58]

In a truly marvelous and imaginative way, C.S. Lewis, in the second volume of his
Space Trilogy, entitled Perelandra, was able to capture, through literature, something of creation as it existed before the fall. His writing strikes a chord with the "distant echo" that is still inscribed in depths of the human heart. [59]In this book, Lewis attempts to paint a word picture of what Eden was like. And the reader cannot but be inspired to yearn for what once was. Such is the power of the arts. Might not something similar be done through the art of painting, or sculpture? Could not something be done which would take us back to a time when there was "no shame"? There is a genuine need for artists who will be able to promote through their handiwork the whole truth about man in his personal and interior dimension, who will be able to convey through their skill what Pope John Paul II has brought to our attention in his Wednesday audiences on the theology of the body.

At the conclusion of his Letter to Artists, writing as a genuine pastor of souls, responsible for shepherding the flock of Jesus Christ and protecting them from the wolves that would devour, Pope John Paul II issues a clarion call to artists the world over

It is up to you, men and women who have given your lives to art, to declare with all the wealth of your ingenuity that in Christ the world is redeemed: the human person is redeemed, the human body is redeemed, and the whole creation which, according to Saint Paul, 'awaits impatiently the revelation of the children of God' (Rom 8:19), is redeemed. The creation awaits the revelation of the children of God also through art and in art. This is your task! Humanity in every age, and even today, looks to works of art to shed light upon its path and its destiny. [60]

In St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, the Pietá rests secure behind protective glass. Each day countless hoards of pilgrims and tourists alike wander and gaze at the wondrous creation of Michelangelo. Far beyond the technical wonder of the work, which is incredible to be sure, is the fact that this statue is able to communicate something of the truth of man. There is a strangely tangible sense of mourning and loss in the gaze of Mary towards her son. In the gaze is the awareness that something has been broken. It is precisely through the bodies of Mary and Jesus that Michelangelo was able to make visible the invisible. In the Pope's concluding exhortation to artists can be heard the plea for a new Michelangelo to arise, who will create a new Pietá, which will move the hearts of new pilgrims for the new millennium.


John Paul II.
Evangelium vitae (The Gospel of Life). Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1995.

John Paul II.
Letter to Artists. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1999.

John Paul II.
Letter to Families. Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 1994.

John Paul II.
The Theology of the Body. Human Love in the Divine Plan. Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 1996.

John Paul II.
Veritatis splendor (The Splendor of Truth). Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1993.

Lewis, C.S. "Good Work and Good Works."
In The World's Last Night and Other Essays. San Diego: Harcourt and Brace, 1987.

May, William E. "Marriage and the Complementarity of Male and Female."
Anthropotes: Rivista sulla persona e la famiglia 8 (1992): 41-60.

Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, "Gaudium et spes." In
Vatican II: The Conciliar and Post-Conciliar Documents, edited by O.P. Austin Flannery. Northport: Costello Publishing Co, 1977.

Pedersen, J.
Israel: Its Life and Culture I-II. London: Oxford University Press, 1954.

Ratzinger, Joseph.
The Spirit of the Liturgy. Translated by John Saward. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000.

Wojtyla, Karol. "
The Personal Structure of self-Determinism." In Person and Community: Selected Essays. New York: Peter Lang, 1993.

Wojtyla, Karol.
Love and Responsibility. Translated by H.T. Willetts. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1981.

Wojtyla, Karol. "Participation or Alienation?"
In Person and Community: Selected Essays. New York: Peter Lang, 1993.

Wojtyla, Karol. "The Person: Subject and Community." In
Person and Community: Selected Essays. New York: Peter Lang, 1993.


1. "Good Work and Good Works," in The World's Last Night and Other Essays (San Diego: Harcourt and Brace, 1987), 79.

2. The Spirit of the Liturgy (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000), 168.

3. Because I am interested in the role of art as it pertains to the theology of the body, I am limiting myself only to discussions of visual art. Much could be added about the role of music, for example, in a more thorough appreciation of the human person.

4. April 4, 1999.

5. See Letter to Artists, April 4, 1999, 1.

6. See Letter to Artists, 1 and 2. See also Pope John Paul II, Homily delivered on February 18, 1984, whereby Fra Angelico was proclaimed the patron of artists, esp. 5-9.

7. See Letter to Artists, 1.

8. For a detailed explanation of the richness of this term in the thought of Karol Wojytla, see "Participation or Alienation?" in Person and Community: Selected Essays, trans. Theresa Sandok, OSM (New York: Peter Lang, 1993), 197-207, and "The Person: Subject and Community,"ibid., 219-261.

9. Letter to Artists, 1.

10. Dialogus de Ludo Globi, lib. II: Philosophisch-Theologische Schriften, Vienna, 1967, III, 332, as quoted in Letter to Artists, 1.

11. See Letter to Artists, 15.

12. See Letter to Artists, 2.

13. Letter to Artists, 2.

14. As Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis writes, "The Creation that I see reveals a Creator whose very life must be superabundance of peace, order, beauty, generosity, vitality, harmony, wisdom, power. A compulsive, incomplete or lonely deity would have created a shabby, anarchic and driven world, always the work of the neurotic or schizophrenic, whereas the creation as we know it manifests a Creator wholly absorbed in the good of what he is making." Love's Sacred Order (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000), 135.

15. See Letter to Artists, 2, and The Theology of the Body, 227. For more on how a man determines himself through his own freely chosen, conscious actions, see Pope John Paul II, Veritatis splendor (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1993, 67, and Karol Wojytla, "The Personal Structure of Self-Determinism," in Person and Community: Selected Essays, trans. Theresa Sandok, OSM (New York: Peter Lang, 1993), 187-195.

16. Letter to Artists, 3.

17. References could be endless. In almost every one of his writings this theme emerges.

18. For more on the causes of the culture of death, see Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1995), esp. 19-24.

19. See Pope John Paul II, "Letter to Families" (Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 1994), 19, and Pope John Paul II, Homily, August 14, 1993, 3-4.

20. See Letter to Artists, 4.

21. The Theology of the Body, 227.

22. See The Theology of the Body, 229.

23. The Theology of the Body, 227.

24. The Theology of the Body, 216.

25. Ibid., 217.

26. Boston, Pauline Books and Media, 1968. Italics mine.

27. See The Theology of the Body, 219.

28. See The Theology of the Body, 219, 228.

29. For more on this crucial theme, see The Theology of the Body, esp. 45-48, 54-57, 60-69.

30. This forms the whole basis for Karol Wojtyla's Love and Responsibility, trans. H.T. Willetts (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1981).

31. The Theology of the Body, 218.

32. The Theology of the Body, 220.

33. The Theology of the Body, 223-4. For more on this, see 60-63.

34. The Theology of the Body, 221.

35. See 1 Jn 2:16.

36. See The Theology of the Body, 222.

37. The Theology of the Body, 226.

38. See, e.g., 55-57, 111-114, 117-125.

39. The Theology of the Body, 54.

40. See The Theology of the Body, 70.

41. The Theology of the Body, 224.

42. See The Theology of the Body, 63-72.

43. See The Theology of the Body, 223.

44. For more on the importance of receiving the other person see The Theology of the Body, 69-72.

45. The Theology of the Body, 225.

46. The Theology of the Body, 225.

47 See The Theology of the Body, 225.

48. See The Theology of the Body, 226-227.

49. The Theology of the Body, 227.

50. See The Theology of the Body, 227. For a brief review of the changes in the potrayal of the nude human body in art, see Francis Martin, The Feminist Question. Feminist Theology in the Light of Christian Tradition (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994), 371-374, 377.

51. See The Theology of the Body, 228. In a homily on April 8, 1994, in the Sistine Chapel, to mark the completion of the restoration of "The Last Judgment" by Michelangelo, the Pope said, "On the basis of this logic [that we believe in one God…maker of heaven and earth, of all things seen and unseen] in the context of the light that comes from God, the human body also keeps its splendor and its dignity. If it is removed from this dimension, it becomes in some way an object, which depreciates very easily, since only before the eyes of God can the human body remain naked and unclothed, and keep its splendor and its beauty intact," n.6.

52. See The Theology of the Body, 228-229.

53. See The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et spes), in Vatican II. The Conciliar and Post-Conciliar Documents (Northport: Costello Publishing Company, 1977), 22.

54. See Leo the Great, Sermon 1, Nativitate Domini, 1-3: PL 54, 190-193.

55. See Gaudium et spes, 24.

56. For more on this concept of man as body-soul, see J. Pedersen, Israel: Its Life and Culture I-II (London: Oxford University Press, 1954).

57. See William E. May, "Marriage and the Complementarity of Male and Female," Anthropotes: Rivista sulla persona e la famiglia 8 (1992): 41-60, esp. 45, where May writes, "This is a matter of utmost importance. Human persons are bodily, sexual beings…Human sexuality is the sexuality of a human person and is hence personal in character. Sexuality has to do with our bodiliness. Our bodies, however, are not impersonal instruments that are to be used by our persons; instead they are integral components of our being as persons."

58. See Letter to Artists, 11-13.

59. Talking about how after original sin man and woman lose the grace of original innocence, Pope John Paul II writes, "However, this meaning [the nuptial meaning of the body] will remain as a commitment given to man by the ethos of the gift, inscribed in the depths of the human heart, as a distant echo of original innocence." The Theology of the Body, 75.

60. Letter to Artists, 14.

Copyright ©; Rev John Riccardo 2000

Version: 11th February 2003

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