Friday, May 21, 2010

TOB Magnets

Sr Helena designed some Theology of the Body magnets with wry slogans on them to provoke questions (ordering info at the bottom of the post).
The magnets have also begun to provoke some controversy. 
Are they too flippant? Do the slogans about pornography make light of a painful addiction, or could they be just the approach that someone needs to recognize how pitiful their situation has become?
Could these little magnets provide an opening for someone to investigate the Theology of the Body?

(magnets are 3.43" x 1.93"--flat vinyl)

--Indicate which magnet(s) you are ordering by the # and how many of each.
--$1.00 per magnet. 1-9 magnets: $1.00 postage. 10+ magnets: $3.00 postage.
--Cash, check ("Daughters of St. Paul"), VISA/MC (with exp. date).
--Your full name, address, phone # and email.
Sr. Helena Burns, fsp
Pauline Books & Media
172 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60601
cell: 617.850.5584


Thursday, May 13, 2010

TOB as the new Good News

This is a reflection prepared by our community in answer to a congregational question; does it match your understanding of the Theology of the Body?

What is the Gospel? It is the unexpected, unanticipated, unimagined revelation of God's saving nearness, surpassing all we could have dreamed of (our minds and expectations having been trained and fixed firmly within the limits of the surrounding culture). This new and surprising revelation convinces by its beauty and raises up new and enthusiastic witnesses who are amazed that they could find such real fulfillment in what, all their life, they had looked on as a stumbling block or absurdity.

What message do we have in our hands that distills the Gospel in a way that has this impact for people today? The Theology of the Body! It is a new reading of the whole Bible, addressed to people's experience of life and their hopes for love and meaning. It is the Good News of the depth of divine revelation and holiness present to us; it hints at what Christian life and family life itself can be: the “sincere gift of self.” It is a profoundly theological and Christian vision of the human person (intelligence, will, heart, relationships...) that simultaneously and paradoxically demonstrates the centrality of the doctrine of the Trinity. Like the Gospel itself, the Theology of the Body can be presented even to children, but is deep enough never to be exhausted. It is accessible to everyone because it does not rely on philosophical or theological background: it starts from common human experience, lived in the body. People who discover it are blown away by its breadth and meaning, and become convincing apostles of its message. Their lives are transformed.

Because it is so counter-cultural and available from no other voice than the Catholic Church's, the Theology of the Body is a message that really needs to be shouted from the rooftops. It is a universal message with a universal audience, a condensed presentation of the Gospel that corresponds to the signs of the times and the needs of society.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A fitting reminder from the Archbishop of Dublin:
Within the Church and outside of it discussion focuses around challenges in the area of sexual morality where the Church’s teaching is either not understood or is simply rejected as out of tune with contemporary culture. There is on the other hand very little critical examination of some of the roots of that contemporary culture and its compatibility with the teaching of Jesus. The moral teaching of the Church cannot simply be a blessing for, a toleration of, or an adaptation to the cultural climate of the day. The manner in which the moral teaching of the Church is presented to believers is far too often not adequately situated within the overall context of the teaching of Jesus, which is both compassionate and demanding. Christian moral rules and norms belong within a broader vision of the teaching of Jesus Christ.

In our May session, Father Loya spoke of the priesthood in the light of the Theology of the Body. He brought out the little-known connection between priestly celibacy and the Mass, and how this is observed in Eastern churches with married priests.

New Books!

Just this morning I was reading a magazine put out by an association of the universities run by a certain very distinguished Catholic Order. The issue dealt with young adults and their experiences and convictions in the realm of sexuality, and even included an article on how to engage young adult Catholics in a Catholic university setting in a conversation about contraception. Sadly, the presentation of the Church's teaching was limited to the 1968 document Humanae Vitae and, after a nod to its relevance, developing a conversation about how it needs to be updated. In another article, an interview with an author who did an extensive study of the "hook-up" culture in the university today, quoted that expert as dismissing "the usual suspects (Humane Vitae, Theology of the Body) of moral theology." Never mind that Theology of the Body is only now beginning to enter into the Church's consciousness, or that it, like the Christian ideal generally, according to Chesterton, "has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried."
Neither the university professor nor the author seems to have any real sense of what Theology of the Body is. The professor didn't even acknowledge it, while the author pegged it as "moral theology." I wonder if either of those two eminences has ever honestly taken the text in hand and allowed the Theology of the Body to speak to them directly. They would find out that it is not a rule book (consisting of one word: "Don't!"), or a text of moral theology, but a vision of the human person, male and female, and what it means to be the image of God.
Two new books may be just the thing--if not for the above-mentioned persons, for people who honestly want a fuller understanding of what the Church teaches about the human person. Both are addressed to the serious reader, not the casual inquirer.
Theology of the Body in Context: Genesis and Growth, by William May, is a summary presentation, ideal for getting a sense of the whole before you actually plunge into John Paul II's tome. The website allows you to read a few sample pages.

And yesterday we got our sneak peak copy of a book so new it's not even on the website yet. So you can't order it. Yet.
In "The Human Person According to John Paul II," Father J. Brian Bransfield starts with culture and the three revolutions at the center of the "Perfect Storm" of the 20th Century: The Industrial Revolution, the Sexual Revolution (with its effects on women, living together, divorce and the phenomenon of fatherlessness), and the Technological Revolution. These revolutions have all had a profound effect on how we understand what it means to be human, and on the key relationships in human life. From this cultural background, Bransfield brings in John Paul's teachings on the person and the Theology of the Body as "life according to the Spirit." How's that for a different take on what some academics blithely dismiss as torpid moral theology?

Author Fr. J. Brian Bransfield will be one of the speakers at this summer's Theology of the Body Conference, along with this TOB group's very own Sister Helena Burns and Father Thomas Loya.