Sunday, July 20, 2008

WYD: How Theology of the Body found me

As I read about World Youth Day in Australia this week, I took a little trip down memory lane to my own World Youth Day experience in Toronto, Canada, in 2002. As a chaperone I guided several youth from the Diocese of Spokane to daily catechetical lessons, Masses, meals, concerts, Adoration, and more. Although joyful memories flood my mind (the handmade shell rosary I was given, explaining courtship to a teenager on the trolley, hearing Pope John Paul II pray the Mass...), I have been especially grateful remembering the Love & Responsibility booklets I gathered in Toronto.

As the World Youth Day crowds thronged by, a few people were handing out a 32-page booklet with the Pope on the front. "Pope John Paul II on Love & Responsibility," it said, then "The Challenge of Human Sexuality." I was intrigued. When I saw the ground littered with the booklets a few yards further along, I actually stooped to pick up as many as I could carry. Somehow I knew that the information they contained would be valuable to share with others in the future.

I didn't get a chance to read the document through until much later, after I returned from the Toronto. Amazed by its forthright discussion of human love, metaphysics, ordered sexuality, the theology of marriage, and natural family planning, I started underlining like crazy (I have that copy in front of me now). I was given a taste of the rich banquet that is Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body, and I began to hunger for more.

Thank God for the group, Love and Responsibility Foundation, that organized the donations and the labor to print and distribute those brochures. Mine prompted me to learn more about the Theology of the Body, and this educational journey has changed the way I understand human life and love.

If you haven't yet discovered this treasure of the Church, perhaps you might like to start with the same brochure that influence me. It is available on the Foundation's website here (as a PDF). Christopher West (a fabulous synthesizer of Pope JP II's dense philosophical writings) also has an introductory article here.


Wood said...

Is this like the clif's notes version of L&R? I started reading that book at one point, and it was pretty dense! Made me wish I had more of a philosphy background.

I LOVE JPIIs Theology of the Body though and have read lots of other books on it.

Frances said...

Haha,YES, Sarah, I would say that this booklet gives a good summary of Love & Responsibility - it seems to pull a quote or concept from every few pages and link them all together. I also tried reading the actual book a few years ago and gave up after several pages. Dense philosophical stuff indeed!

The added bonus of this booklet is that it links the concepts of L&R with examples/passages from other writings of the Pope, including his plays (which I would not otherwise have encountered).

Bill Donaghy said...

Hi Frances! Great to see your sharing on TOB. It's changed my life and my life's perspective as well! Somehow the deeper I enter into that teaching, the more I see it's the message of the Gospel through and through. It's the lens with which we should see reality... because the Word became flesh "the body entered theology through the main door" - Pope JPII (wow!)