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." 
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." 
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.  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,  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. 
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."  So, then, God is the Creator
and man appears "more than ever" in
the image of God through his "artistic activity." 
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.
"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." 
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." 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." 
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. 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." 
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. 
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. 
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." 
Over and over again in his writings and homilies John Paul II speaks of the need to transform the culture. 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. 
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." 
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."  Artists have "a
special responsibility, which is not only artistic, but also ethical in nature."
 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. 
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
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." 
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."  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." 
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." 
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." 
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). 
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.  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."  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." 
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."
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.  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." 
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.  "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."  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.'"  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. 
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."  "The human body,
in its nakedness, becomes the source of a particular interpersonal communication."
 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. 
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. 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."  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." 
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." 
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. 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.'" 
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. 
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
Concluding Remarks on the Significance of Art for the Theology of the
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.  The fact that
God himself has become Incarnate, has taken on our flesh, reveals the greatness of man. 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.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. He is a "body-person." 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. 
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. 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. 
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.
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Gospel of Life). Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1995.
John Paul II. Letter to Artists. Vatican City: Libreria
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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.
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May, William E. "Marriage and the Complementarity of Male and Female." Anthropotes:
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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.
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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
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. 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,
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