I recently had the opportunity to speak with Bishop Ronald Fabbro of the London, Ontario diocese. Our conversation was for Salt + Light's daily update program
(Tuesday, June 19th/07 edition) and focussed on a recent national symposium on the Theology of the Body held in Edmonton.
Are you familiar with the Theology of the Body? It's a series of talks by Pope John Paul II, given in the early 1980s, about the human person. The talks were compiled into a rather hefty single volume, which was recently retranslated from the original Polish and re-released by Pauline books. For those that have read works by the late Polish Pontiff, you will probably note that some of his writing can be difficult to plow through. In recent years though, there has been a movement of lay people, probably the most notable being Christopher West
, who have taken up the cause and published clear, concise, and accessible books on the topic.
Bishop Fabbro told me the symposium in Edmonton was geared to introduce and educate Church leaders -- clergy and lay -- to the Theology of the Body. Having gotten a taste for this great teaching, the hope is that it will be brought back to dioceses and parishes throughout Canada and more people will find out about this treasure.
You may have noticed that I'm quite fond of the Theology of the Body. I freely admit I'm a big fan of it! This past summer I had the opportunity to read "Theology of the Body for Beginners" by Christopher West.
It was the first time I had read any information on the topic and I was amazed as I read deeper and deeper into this text. Pope John Paul II's insight into the human body -- from the chapters of Genesis to the glorious Resurrection -- was not only eye-opening, but exciting to read about.
For those that think the Church is prude and closed minded when it comes to matters of sex and sexuality, then I suggest you explore the Theology of the Body. It is an embracing of the body, a schooling on the sacredness and the value of our sexuality.
Have you ever considered:
- The spiritual aspect of what it means to be male or female?
- The complementarity between man and woman?
- The sacrament of marriage as a mirroring of the Trinity -- as a participation in God's love?
- That your body has a nuptial meaning?
- What our fundamental vocation is?
- The philosophical and theological reasons why the Church works endlessly to protect the family?
- The philosophical and theological reasons as to why the Church maintains contraception, pornography, masturbation, sexual relations outside of marriage, and homosexual acts, are contradictory to the dignity of man?
We can not trivialize the importance of being created man and woman and the way we are intended to live this vocation. It's a challenge and a great responsibility for us -- but it's a challenge we are not alone in. There are many resources to guide us -- be it the Magisterium, lay people like Christopher West, or groups like the Catholic Organization for Life and Family
Bishop Fabbro is the chairman of the board of directors of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family, which happens to be the organization that sponsored the Theology of the Body symposium in Edmonton. The theme of the conference was "Towards a New Sexual Revolution."
A thought occurred to me as I typed the conference title: Who would have thought that a sexual revolution would have been started by an older, white haired, celibate Church leader? I would suspect very few -- however an increasing number of people thank God he was!
If you'd like more information on the Catholic Organization for Life and Family, and the important work that they do, click HERE
I also highly recommend Christopher West's publications on the Theology of the Body. A good place to start is, not surprisingly, "Theology of the Body for Beginners." (you can find this on Christopher West's web site
, or at popular online book stores)
For the more advanced, try the original source: "Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body
" by John Paul II. This is a newly re-translated collection of the Theology Body and is a beautiful resource.