This week I was blessed by the opportunity to attend the Theology of the Body (ToB) Congress in Philadelphia. The lovely Daughters of St. Paul, my friends and former colleagues, and I road-tripped from Boston for the three-day event. The sisters hoped to gain new insights into Saint John Paul II’s teachings and learn from the other attendees the pastoral needs of the congregation so that they may work more effectively in the works the publishing. I hoped to learn the same so as to imbue some current works-in-progress with these beautiful teachings. I ended up starting a brand-new manuscript in the midst of one of the talks!
Without further ado, here are the Top 7 moments of these three days. It was really hard! Perhaps more will come in a Spirituality Sunday post, a Thoughtful Thursday post, my NFP week observance…
I shall start with what ToB is, in a nutshell:
“ToB is about the deep desire of the human heart to love and be loved.” – Dr. Janet Smith
And in no particular hierarchy, but again with Janet Smith, who is crazy smart and insightful.
“We basically do proximate marriage prep when it should be immediate (proximate is high school and dating; immediate is when you’re planning the wedding). I actually recommend to young people to do marriage prep before engagement.” – Dr. Janet Smith
(I think it, you say it!)
Dr. Deborah Savage also attended and spoke. Another crazy smart lady who spoke on gender complementarity, especially in light of the focus on the feminine.
“I believe I have a plausible account of the masculine genius—yes, there is one…” (much laughing.) A little later: “Men: your mission is to protect women by teaching other men that our task is to be a gift to one another.” – Dr. Deborah Savage
Do any of you read The Veil of Chastity? Well, if you’re reading my blog, you should read Cindy’s. Great spiritual mentoring for young Catholic women. Anyway, Cindy introduced us all to Thirsting for Truth, a new mission aimed at proclaiming the beauty of chastity and love to young people. Cindy, I MET MARCUS GUEVARA!!!! What an incredible young man (He’s married, mind you, and expecting his third child imminently.)
“The best way to combat atheism is a great love story.”—Marcus Guevara
(ToB is that love story.)
Marcus was given the honor to introduce none other than Christopher West (who is such a peach—he came by the Pauline table Friday morning to thank the Daughters for their ministry and contribution to the ToB evangelization).
Mr. West used the analogy of diets to look at the way we approach faith. There’s the fast food way, in which we just want something immediate, if not wholly satisfying or nutritious. And there’s the starvation way, one of rules and rigorism, in which we get nothing. He says regarding our witness: “Less than one percent of us were raised on the Banquet Gospel…Jesus invites us all to the Wedding Feast.” – Christopher West
(A holistic view of ToB is a sumptuous meal from which we should all partake.)
Another keynote speaker was Fr. Michael Gaitley. He nicely connected the concepts of ToB to the Congress’s theme of mercy.
“What would Jesus do if someone interrupted him during the Sermon on the Mount? I don’t think he’d rail against people, but would extend mercy because we are confused and lost. “
(Let’s never forget that when witnessing to the beautiful teachings of ToB to be merciful to our listeners, even if they post all-caps refutations on your Facebook comments thread…”
Part of the Congress included Group Discussions. I went to one led by Sr. Mary Elizabeth of the Sisters of Life on “The New Feminisim.” There were two token men (you go, dudes!) and more than two dozen women of all ages.
“Young women are key to the survival of the faith.”
Young women, may the good Lord turn your hearts from locks to keys, so that your life is one of unlocking of hearts.