Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Challenge of Theology of the Body

Many in the Catholic World promote St. John Paul II’s body of teaching known as Theology of the Body as an answer to all that ails our hurting world.

It’s very tempting to frame it that way.

Even at first glance, many who delve into Theology of the Body feel as though a light bulb has been turned on; they encounter a new way of understanding that helps to make sense of how we should be in the world.

The words of St. John Paul II are powerful to say the least, and many who experience these words come away with a desire to spread the message of TOB far and wide, many times relating the message to absolutely everything:

The dangers of contraception leading us into selfishness, the answers to why we should remain chaste before marriage, the reasons why we should guard our eyes from the near occasions of sin lurking around the internet, the response to the issue of gender identity in our current culture, the way TOB responds to the culture’s idea of feminism with a true feminism; it seems that Theology of the Body indeed provides an answer to nearly every current hot button question our culture can throw at us. 

However, as Catholics, we need to make sure we acknowledge the both/and of most things in life, and that includes Theology of the Body.

is both an answer and a challenge, and if we fail to acknowledge the later it can lead to people who are striving to live the message feeling like they are coming up short.

Let’s face it: it’s easier, more comfortable, and pretty enticing to live a life that rejects Theology of the Body and gives in to the current cultural trends. 

But, as Pope Benedict XVI reminded us, “The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”

The path to greatness isn’t easy or comfortable even when we realize we’re following the truth. Knowing the truths taught in Theology of the Body can lead to feeling like we’ve finally found what we’ve been looking for all these years, but that doesn’t automatically make living a life in accordance with those truths any easier.

It’s hard. 

When we look up at the Crucifix we see our blueprint for what to expect on our journey following Christ, and if we were hoping for a comfortable Catholic life, we’re going to be sorely disappointed.

Living a life in accordance with God’s will for us, a life in accordance with the teachings found in Theology of the Body, can be a struggle. Almost daily, we find ourselves feeling like St. Paul when he said, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.”

Thankfully, Jesus anticipated this very struggle, and provides us with the means to overcome it through our sincere repentance, His boundless forgiveness, and His empowering grace. 

While recognizing the both/and of striving to live a life with a correct understanding of the teachings contained in Theology of the Body is vitally important, we must never lose sight of the hope we have in Christ: the hope that all is possible through Him. 

Because while TOB may be the answer for a great deal of what is ailing our world today, Jesus is the answer to everything, and it is only through Him that we can ever hope to live a life marked by the authentic and life changing love St. John Paul II spoke of. 

The most important issues related to the family: don't miss this year's Theology of the Body Congress in September.

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