The other day I was listening to the radio and they were talking about Pope John Paul II's canonization on this upcoming Sunday along with Pope John XXIII. One of the things they were discussing was the impact Pope John Paul II had on them. I grew up with John Paul but I was not really fully involved and formed in my faith until after the Parkinson's had set in and he was in poor health. Because of this, I cannot say that he had an impact on me growing up, but I think I can say that his teachings have an impact on me now.
In particular, his teaching on the Theology of the Body (TOTB) has had a great impact and my deepest regret is that I had not learned about it twenty years earlier. The pope taught about the Theology of the Body over a number of years at his Wednesday audiences. In essence, the Theology of the Body is the study of God through a more profound understanding of the human body and our own sexuality.
The Theology of the Body helps us understand the church's teaching on sexuality and explains why she teaches what she does on things such as marriage, contraception and homosexuality. The Catholic Church's teaching on sexuality, while thought by many to be archaic is anything but. It is beautiful--although sometimes difficult.
It has taught me to not let my life be led by hormones and to allow my soul to have control over my body.
It has taught me to look at women as a people to love and not to look at them as objects to be used. I realize this may make me sound very sexist but I think it is a safe bet that most men battle lust to some degree and they either succumb to it or they totally shield themselves off and "guard their eyes" when an attractive woman is in the room. It is still a battle for me and I'm still careful, but I like to think that I can see an attractive woman and appreciate her beauty without seeing her in a sexual way. To do so would be sinful.
Finally, it has allowed me to have a greater intimacy with my wife.
It has allowed me to see her as part of me because of our marriage. We are more than two separate people. We are made one flesh by the bonds of our marital vows. When she hurts, I hurt. When she wants, I want. I want to do everything I can to make her happy even if I have to make sacrifices myself.
It has helped me see sex as a physical act between two people. It is an act of intimacy between two people where the husband is giving all of his love to his wife and the wife gives all of her love to the husband and the result of this love is, if God wills it, a child. Sex between a husband and wife is in reality a reflection of Trinitarian love---the love that flows between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As the three are one so husband and wife are one. There is nothing more intimate than a husband and wife in the "marital embrace."
What impact has Pope John Paul II had on my life. A great one. He has helped me understand my own sexuality and how my sexuality interacts with my wife's. So, some how, the little old Polish priest over in Rome, who will be made a saint on Sunday, helped my sex life.