Love’s Mystery: A Mystical Theology of the Body According to St. John Paul II and St. John of the Cross

Loves Mystery: A Mystical Theology of the Body According to St. John Paul II and St. John of the Cross by David P. Hahn

It is well-known that St. John Paul II was a student of St. John of the Cross. The Pope, as a young man, decided to learn Spanish to study the writings of St. John of the Cross in the original language. As a young priest of only twenty-eight years of age, this future Pope wrote his dissertation on St. John’s philosophy of faith in the mystical contexts, Faith According to St. John of The Cross. The writings and spirituality of St. John influenced the Pope’s entire way of looking at spirituality and philosophy. St. John, as many other mystics and saints, looked at the Song of Songs as an example of God’s love for us, the souls He created. A very deep, passionate love for the soul is called agape, portrayed in eros, which is the love between man and woman. This love is mentioned by John Paul in his works The Theology of The Body as well as Love and Responsibility. The love that God has between Himself and the human soul is also the same kind of love that man and woman should exchange between themselves.

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David Hahn’s book makes a connection that I myself have come to see more and more — that between Catholic teaching on human sexuality and on deep prayer. He brings out some really intriguing similarities. For example, Adam was alone at the beginning, and only began to know himself as he named the animals and found that none of them was a suitable companion. Similarly, in contemplation one comes before God in solitude, and begins to see all created things as ultimately unable to fulfill the deep longings one has for eternal intimacy. He also brings out parallels between the original nakedness of Adam and Eve and the spiritual nakedness of John of the Cross’s “nada doctrine.” As a non-scholar, David may not always word things as precisely as a theologian would, but his work is accessible to the average layperson. The content deserves 5 stars.  Connie Rossini, Catholic author