Reading so much of the Theology of the Body has reminded me, and helped me to experience more deeply, how closely and providentially you, Father, have formed and fashioned my heart throughout the years, even intellectually through reading and study. This comes in part because I realize how I came to a deep, heartfelt awareness of the Mystery of which TOB speaks without ever actually reading the text; and indeed an awareness of the central insights, as this single Mystery irradiates the whole of creation. In other words, my living contact with the Truth led me to the exact same place as John Paul II, as if here, in contemplative gazing upon the great Mystery, the “mysterium magnum,” our hearts and minds intersect in the single Beauty, Goodness, and Truth—in the uncreated Love and Communion of the Trinity which cradles and consummates all created reality.

But my study was much more than just intellectual study. It was a passionate search for the truth, for the central Mystery that gave meaning to all things and contained them all within itself. It was a prolonged contemplation of the Gospel in Scripture and the tradition and the experience of the mystics and saints. And it was an ardent reaching out of my heart toward the ineffable silence of loving contact with you in the fullness of your Mystery, in the innermost depths of your own life as Trinity…

And how beautiful has been the discovery, the encounter, the convergence—as the disparate threads are woven together in a contemplative vision of this great Mystery—our experience of the union of Christ and the Church, our participation in the perfect communion that is yours as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… Here the fullness of humanity, and of all created reality itself, is purified, elevated, and consummated within the very embrace of the Trinity, and the Trinity is present and incarnate within the full richness of the creation that has poured forth first from your creative act. Yes, here the deepest aspirations of our hearts are fulfilled—begun already in this life and consummated in the next—by returning to the very Fullness from which all comes and to which it returns. Here the diverse refractions of light return into the undivided Light in which all is one—one not by being dissolved or lost, but by being cradled in its uniqueness within the single, all-encompassing embrace of perfect Love and Communion.

Here all of the “created analogies” of love are both surpassed and brought to their true fulfillment. The reality of childhood—of sonship and daughterhood—finds its fulfillment in our repose within your sheltering bosom, Father, in the very intimacy that your Son eternally shares with you. The reality of spousehood and nuptial union—the totality of mutual self-donation and the interpenetration of persons that this creates—finds its fulfillment in the virginal-spousal union of each one of us with the Bridegroom Christ. He embraces us as bride and presses us to his Heart in a movement of simultaneous acceptance and self-donation, in a circulation of love which surpasses and consummates all that is glimpsed and symbolized by created nuptiality—in the full, true, and perfect Reality that it has reflected and toward which it has pointed and prepared the way. Yes, and in this “nuptial union” with you that surpasses all nuptial union in the uncreated Mystery of the Trinitarian life, our capacity and desire for intimate human relationship with one another is also brought to its highest and most perfect fulfillment. Here the “analogy” of spousal love truly passes over into the Reality that it has symbolized, and our communion with each other—our true and total intersubjectivity with one another in the intersubjectivity that we all have with the Persons of the Trinity—flowers in the virginal consummation of the eternally-virginal Marriage.

Finally, the reality of fatherhood and motherhood—and the capacity and desire of the human person to co-create with God in response to the beauty that ravishes and attracts the heart—while ever deepening throughout this life through our contact in faith with the great Mystery, will be consummated in the new creation. For here there will be no more procreation or generation, since the cycle of human birth and death has ceased, but rather there will be the utter irradiation of our entire being and existence—and the full richness of the network of relationships that we share—with the creating and consummating Love of the Trinity. We will at last experience, without any diminution, without any obscuring veil, the primordial Beauty that has drawn us throughout our life. We will be perfectly wedded to absolute Goodness, and fulfilled in the intimacy of this embrace. We will be immersed in the fullness of Truth, finding our happiness in “knowing you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (Jn 17:3). And this will be a knowledge that surpasses any earthly knowledge while perfecting it, bringing into harmony in the fullness of the ecstatic gaze—in the direct contact and touch, in the “knowing even as we are known” (1 Cor 13:12), of your uncreated Mystery—all the faculties of our humanity: mind, will, affectivity, emotions, senses, body and spirit, heart… All will be unified and consummated in the full permeation of our being by your Being, in the totally naked contact of all that we are with all that you are, which also enables this same naked virginal embrace to be expressed and consummated with one another, with every human person, and indeed to enfold, cradle, and permeate the whole of the renewed and glorified creation.i


i. I would like in this end note to address the question of the difference between same-sex relationships (of all kinds) and opposite-sex relationships, as relates to their different nuances and richness, both in this life and in eternity. In a certain sense, it seems that persons of the same gender are more inclined to “enfold” and “accompany” one another, walking side by side or even encircling one another; but in the intimacy between man and woman, there is a more intense and total “penetration” and “permeation” which, at least within this life, is not possible between persons of the same gender. And even in heaven, the unique complementarity and perennial attraction of masculinity and femininity will remain, designed as it is to participate in the intimacy of the Father and the Son. This, indeed, will come to its full flowering and its most perfect realization, not in a sexual way, but in a wholly virginal way. In other words, in the new creation, the eternal virginal meaning of sexuality will come to consummation, leaving behind the realm of temporal sexuality as we now know it and being fulfilled in the mystery of virginity, which is a permeation by the very mystery of the Trinity at the heart of our human relationships, and in the whole realm of the interpenetration of man and woman.

Thus, the depth of the richness present in the communion between man and woman, in heaven, will not be lessened or done away with, but will only deepen by revealing the true foundations of its beauty in the heart of the Trinitarian Mystery. And yet it also seems that the relationships between persons of the same gender—man and man or woman and woman—will immeasurably deepen. They will not be the same as opposite sex relationships, since gender will obviously remain in heaven, with all that this entails for the unique contours of our love for and intimacy with one another. Nonetheless, it seems to me that not only will whatever limitations have been caused by sin in same-sex relationships dissolve in the fire of eternal Love, but a radical transfiguration of these relationships will occur, precisely by their own permeation by the mystery of virginity within the embrace of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We can see a glimpse of this, perhaps, in the way that both the Father and the Son go by a male name, and yet their intimacy is also the archetype and origin of the complementarity of the sexes—as the Father represents the man and the Son the woman, just as the man, in the created order, represents the divine and the woman the creation. Obviously, these are analogies that, while being wholly rooted in the very created order and indeed in the Trinitarian order, can nonetheless never encompass or contain the mystery of God, but rather open out into its depth and its beauty simply by being irradiations of the undivided light of the intimacy of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in its undivided fullness.

Thus there will be, in the new creation, a space of deep intimacy and interpenetration that surpasses gender—and thus is realized beautifully and fully in same-sex relationships as well—while also being the origin and enduring safeguard of gender, even throughout the everlasting life of eternity. It seems to me that there will just be particular nuances in our relationships (based on gender as well as, above all, on the singular beauty and identity of each person), different ways in which the fullness of perfect intimacy is realized in us—the intimacy of the Trinity enfolding us and permeating us, uniting us together in the very oneness of the Father and the Son in the Spirit! After all, the eternal consummation will not be the place of some anonymous mass of humanity united together, but rather precisely the full flowering of the singular beauty, the irreducible uniqueness, of each person, bound together in the most breathtaking intimacy with the singular beauty and irreducible uniqueness of each other person!

Yes, the virginal meaning of the body—and thus also of gender itself—will be realized in the restoration of the authentic beauty of masculinity and femininity, and in their full transfiguration in the virginal love lived first by Jesus and Mary, in which we are all incorporated. But it will also be lived, even more importantly, in the liberation and consummation of the personal mystery, which, due to original sin and the fractured state of our world, is ever threatened with being submerged by the impersonal. As I have said before, in eternity everything will be utterly personal, and the very experience of gender will be so radically personalized that it will be impossible to see “woman” or “man” in general in gazing upon another person, but rather only to see “You,” even as this you is also always either a woman or a man. And this will both relativize gender while also bringing it to full flower, since the new order of human relationships realized in our participation in the intimacy of the Trinity will dissolve all the limitations keeping persons apart, and draw us together above all on the basis of each person’s unique identity in the eyes of God, their singular belovedness before him.