Embodied will not be an intellectual publication exploring the various themes and plumbing the philosophical depths of the Theology of the Body (TOB). There could be a need for that, but this girl is not the one to do it!
Instead, Embodied will follow the lead of St. John Paul II by evangelizing through witness. We will tell the stories of those who are living the truths of TOB in the hopes of reminding readers who they are and inspiring them to also live their lives from a place of self-giving love. This I can do because I’ve done it before in the natural family planning (NFP) arena as director of marketing and communications for the Couple to Couple League (CCL).
CCL was the first NFP organization to fully immerse its teaching in TOB principles, and the results were remarkable. We had already been teaching NFP for over 30 years, but over time the student couples were increasingly unimpressed with the message of Humanae Vitae and the Church’s teaching that both the unitive and procreative dimensions of marital sexuality need always be present. “Because the Church says so” was not convincing anyone to forgo contraception.
Then in the early 2000s we had several board members enthusiastic about TOB, including the late Rev. Richard Hogan, co-author of “Covenant of Love.” With their help, CCL completely rewrote its entire program to present NFP through the lens of TOB. Out from the class (but not from all of our work!) were the documents with Latin names and quotes from popes, and instead the class was centered around the witness of the teaching couple. The first experience of the student couples became hearing the real story of the man and wife standing before them, sharing how their marriage and relationship was before they learned NFP, and how it changed for the better after they adopted NFP. That led into classes focused on explaining the amazing beauty written by God in our bodies through the gift of fertility, and how to manage that fertility while also respecting it.
The increased receptivity to NFP among the student couples was impressive. It’s easy to argue with Church teaching, but it’s hard to argue with someone’s lived experience. In this case, it was hearing that experience that opened the couples to giving NFP more consideration.
With Embodied, I’m taking that lesson learned and bringing it to bear on my desire to get more people excited about TOB or even to take notice of it for the first time. We will bring you stories of people who have gained new insight on a teaching they had struggled with, who have found joy in serving others, who have learned to find God where they hadn’t before…because they had learned something about TOB and let it sink into their heart.
There will be both big stories and little ones. I personally love the little ones, because a thousand little stories of God’s love have more widespread impact than one or two big ones. Plus, the stories of everyday people drive home the truth that we are all called to be witnesses and evangelizers.
Get ready to be inspired!
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Do you have a TOB story to tell? Is there any particular new insight about the faith you have gained through learning TOB? How do you now understand self-gift? What do you see differently through your TOB lenses?
I look forward to hearing from you! Use this form and perhaps you can be a part of Embodied Magazine!