Theology of the Body – Longing for More
Today is Father’s Day and I am sitting in the Philadelphia International Airport waiting for a shuttle bus to take me to a week-long Theology of the Body immersion course. My husband attended the same workshop last March and on his return home he insisted that I follow suit. I happily obliged, as I have always desired to learn more about St. John Paul II’s writings on the Theology of the Body.
When I realized that I would have to fly out the morning of Father’s Day, I told Troy that I felt terrible leaving him on such a special day that honors his vocation as father to our five beautiful children. I will never forget his response: “Honey, the fruit that will come from both of us having this experience is the greatest gift we can give our marriage and our children.”
Theology of the Body (TOB) is a series of 129 lectures that were given by St. Pope John Paul II over the course of five years during his Wednesday audiences in St. Peter’s Square. According to author and speaker Christopher West, who will be leading the workshop I am attending this week, the central thesis of TOB is that, “the body, and it alone, is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine. It was created to transfer into the visible reality of the world, the mystery hidden since the immemorial in God, and thus to be a sign of it.” The Catechism states, “A prayerful study of the theology of the body is not only informational but also transformational.” (CCC 1695) With this in mind, I am approaching the week with an open heart, ready to receive what God is waiting to give.
While I have attended talks, listened to podcasts, and read books on this topic, I am excited to immerse myself in these rich teachings for an entire week. My heart is yearning to learn more.
Throughout our marriage I have often shared with Troy that the deepest desire of my heart is to be known through and through. Although he has made very sincere efforts to understand this yearning and to fulfill it, he seemed to have lacked the proper formation to comprehend what I was seeking. But, I now realize that I lacked the proper formation to fully express what I was seeking. I recognized I was created to be known and I had this ache in my heart that was crying out to be filled.
Then it happened. It was one of the most life giving, powerful moments in our marriage. Troy called me, with tears in his eyes, on the second day of the TOB workshop and announced over the telephone, “I get it, I finally get it.” He went on to share with me that he had received a new set of lens to view life through. His eyes were opened to beauty and truth in a way that they had never been before. My husband came back from the training a transformed man. With a deeper understanding of his dignity as a man and his ability to express himself through his body in word and action, his heart was set on fire to fully live!
So now I am here, in a small town in the middle of Amish Country, with more than one hundred men and women from all walks of life – seminarians, priests, sisters, brothers, husbands, fathers, mothers, wives, singles, young adults, and retirees. We are all wounded in our human nature, yet all here to receive our set of new lens with which to see the divine mystery of the unity of our body and soul which contributes uniquely to marriage as a “sincere gift of self.”