The Catholic University of America Press

Crossing the Threshold of Love

A New Vision of Marriage in the Light of John Paul II's Anthropology

Mary Shivanandan

Paper 978-0-8132-0941-8 $24.95
April 1999 In Print Add to Cart

The papal encyclical Humanae Vitae predicted the disintegration of marriage and family life, partly as a result of the widespread use of contraception. Pope John Paul II has since addressed the problem by articulating a fresh understanding of marriage, love, and sexuality which takes account of the dignity of the human person, and especially of women.

In this most exhaustive and scholarly assessment of John Paul II's Christian anthropology ever written, Mary Shivanandan examines the scientific data and the theological analysis that underlie his teachings on marriage and sexuality. Her book will be an essential text for the study of the development, meaning, and implications of Catholic doctrine in this controversial area. It is both lucid and multi-disciplinary. Its appearance marks a new stage in the debate over sexuality in the modern world.


Mary Shivanandan, STD, is a professor at the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family.


"Mary Shivanandan has successfully accomplished a daunting task: the distillation of John Paul's profound and complicated vision of the essence of man and the meaning of marital love. . . . [A] very valuable presentation of the thought of John Paul on human sexuality, marriage, and the family. Anyone who wants to understand the Pope on these matters must have Shivanandan's book as part of his personal or formal curriculum."--New Oxford Review

"An exceptionally brilliant study, Shivanandan very accurately and clearly sets forth the major ideas developed at length by Pope John Paul II in many of his writings. . . . She has entered into serious dialogue with contemporary thinking regarding the nature of the human person, the meaning of the human body, and the meaning of human sexuality, relating and contrasting this thinking with that of John Paul II."--Prof. William E. May, John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family

"Shivanandan has made a significant contribution to the enrichment of our understanding of marriage. In a concise way, she reveals the subtle insights of John Paul II, which resonate in so many people's lives once they are explained in such a clear way."--Rev. Msgr. Peter J. Elliott, Casa Internazionale del Clero, Rome

"The monumental text book the prolife movement has been waiting for. This is the definitive study of the Pope's innovative theology of the body and its implications for human life and marriage. . . ."--Faith & Culture Bulletin

"This is an exceptional study. Shivanandan not only offers a tour de force of the evolution of John Paul's thought, but also demonstrates its far-reaching implications for the lives of couples, families, and whole societies. She unmasks the deception of our 'safe-sex' society by demonstrating that only when we come to see the body and sexual intercourse as the expression of transcendence of the person will we be able to 'cross the threshold of love.' . . . Mary Shivanandan's new book Crossing the Threshold of Love should establish her as a recognized scholar, theologian, and expert on Pope John Paul II's anthropology. . . ."--National Catholic Register

"Pope John Paul II's thought and teaching on human sexuality evolved over a couple of decades, and Professor Mary Shivanandan unpackages this thought carefully and extensively. . . . In presenting John Paul II's thought, Mary Shivanandan brings a thorough grounding in philosophy and a theological education. She also has twenty years of experiential learning in the matter of Natural Family Planning and what this can bring to communion in one flesh. A full index of subjects as well as a generous bibliography enrich this work."--Liguorian

"Shivanandan is largely successful in bringing out the main elements of the pope's personalism. She has done an admirable job of assembling his relevant texts on personhood, marriage, and sexual ethics from the last fifty years. This task is not easy because his writings in these fields are sometimes philosophically technical and extend as far back as Karol Wojtyla's early writings as an academician and playwright. The volume offers a good synopsis of his writing. Moreover, Shivanandan has supplied an interesting--and heretofore unexplored--analysis of the pope's Wednesday catechesis, in which he offers several reflections on the contents of the creation story of Genesis, pertinent sections of Guadium et spes, and Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae."--The Living Light

"A thorough study of the foundations and cultural implications of the Pope's views on love, marriage, and family. . . . One of the best overviews yet of [Karol Wojtyla's] thought on these most important questions. Shivanandan's investigation of the foundations of John Paul II's thought is especially well done, and three chapters examining the deeper issues behind the birth control movement and Natural Family Planning are quite useful. . . . A crucial resource for understanding the Pope's vision of marriage, and what it means to put that vision into action."--First Things

"This is a landmark study of the thought of the present pontiff and an important addition to Catholic scholarship on the family."--Kairos

Product Details

Sales Restrictions:For sale only in the United States and Canada

Pages:xxiv, 324 pages

Dimensions:6x9 inches


CIP Information: 98-41008/ BX2250.S48/ 234'.165'092--dc21


1. John Paul II, Pope, 1920-

2. Marriage--religious aspects--Catholic Church

3. Birth control--religious aspects--Catholic Church