From our Coordinator of Sacramental Preparation, Angel Koerkel…
Did you pick up a copy of the book (Theology of the Body for Beginners by Christopher West) that Fr. Chas gave us at Christmas? Have you started reading it yet?
Maybe you looked at the subtitle of: Rediscovering the Meaning of Life, Love, Sex, and Gender and thought, “nope, not for me, I’m not married/I’m too old for this to matter” or “sounds too academic” or maybe even “I can’t let the kids see this in the house – it’s about sex!”…well, if any of those thoughts sound similar to ones you’ve had about this book, I want to put your mind at ease. Not only is this material literally for everyone, it is also a great starting point to understanding what is a complex, and sometimes overwhelming, subject; and, no, it’s not really about sex – it’s about understanding who we are and how we are called to live; it answers the age-old question: what is the meaning of life? Does all that mean it’s an easy read? Not really, but that’s okay because we are here to help!
This Lent, following the Stations of the Cross on select weeks (March 6, 13, & 27), we will offer a Friday evening series based on The Theology of the Body (TOB). During these presentations we will take a look at the very basics of this deep subject and begin to get our heads around what St. John Paul II was trying to help us understand and, more specifically, how this big, overarching teaching applies to us personally for our own healing and growing as disciples of the Lord.
How does studying TOB lead us closer to God? According to Mr. West (p.2), “To ask questions about the meaning of the human body…leads us from the human body to the mystery of sexual difference; from the mystery of sexual difference to the mystery of a holy communion in “one flesh”; from the mystery of this union in “one flesh” to the mystery of Christ’s Holy Communion with the Church (see Eph 5:31-32); and from the Holy Communion of Christ and the Church to the eternal Holy Communion of Father, Son, and Spirit.” I realize that even that summary may seem overwhelming–but what JPII has given us, and Christopher West has helped break down for us, is essentially the meaning of our existence, the meaning of life. It points us toward our goal of eternity with the Trinity and how we are called to live in the world.
But what do all of these seemingly spiritual ends have to do with our bodies? Have you ever noticed that Catholicism is a very physical religion? Ever wondered why we have all the Catholic-calisthenics at Mass: stand up, sit down, kneel, stand again…?Noticed how we have candles, incense, and holy water splashing? What about the Sacraments: water, oil, laying on of hands, eating and drinking the Body of Christ, and confessing with our lips? In the sacraments the Spirit pours out Grace on us and Jesus is really truly Present–the invisible made visible in the material things of the world. Our faith is filled with physicality because we are physical beings. Just as the invisible becomes visible in the sacraments, God the Son becomes physical in Jesus, and He also reveals Himself through our bodies. In fact, John Paul II said, “The body, in fact, and only the body, is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine.”
Theology of the Body is not just about sex and marriage, although that is an aspect of it. It’s not just for priests to study as an academic exercise, although there’s plenty to study. It’s not just for abstract discussion on a deep subject. No, Theology of the Body is for everyone with a body so that we can better understand ourselves & each other, be healed through the realization of who we are created to be, and ultimately so that we can be drawn deeper into Communion with the Holy Trinity now and forever. I hope to see you at the Lenten talk series so that we can take this journey together!
Editor’s Note:On the same nights as the TOB talk series, there will also be Reconciliation available after the stations and a light dinner before the TOB talk! The Knights are planning a pancake dinner for the evening of March 6th.