When Pope John Paul II visited Ireland in 1979 (Sept. 29-Oct. 1), he had already given the first four of his Wednesday audiences on the Theology of the Body (TOB) in the preceding weeks. A few days after his departure from Shannon Airport for his first visit to the United States, I started my studies for the priesthood at our diocesan seminary in Belfast. Looking back over the years, I wish I had known during my seminary formation and later in priestly ministry what I now know about this amazing gift that John Paul gave to the church and to the world.
Many years later, as my interest in John Paul II’s TOB and the desire to share it with others increased, I started to look for a course that would help me to help others catch the fire of this teaching that seeks to answer two of the most fundamental human questions: What does it mean to be human? and How can I live my life in a way that will bring true happiness?
[NOTE: My post originally appeared on Father Robert Barron’s Word on Fire blog on May 22 in anticipation of 20th anniversary of the release of the film “Braveheart” on May 24.]
Stunned. Overwhelmed. Speechless. As the credits rolled, so did the tears. My fiancée and I were the last to leave the theater and didn’t do so until we were practically kicked out. It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since the release of Braveheart – arguably the greatest guy-movie of all time – but my 20th wedding anniversary later this year should prove it to me.
Around the world, when I reference scenes from Braveheart in my lectures, there’s an immediate spike of testosterone in the room and an instant bond among the men. Guys love to brag about how many times they’ve seen it (ahem, 23 for me). They quote lines in regular conversation: the serious (“You’re heart is free, have the courage to follow it…”); the humorous (“It’s my island!”); and the famous (“Freeeeedooooom!!”). And they watch it with their sons as a right of passage.
Men love Braveheart because it gives us something noble to aspire to as men. We don’t just admire William Wallace. We want to be William Wallace. We want to be the kind of man who’s courageous enough to fight, to lay it all down, to endure the most gruesome, bloody death for the sake of … of what?
In the sixth installment of our video series for “Pope Francis To Go: Bite-Sized Morsels from The Joy of the Gospel”, Corey Knapke of St. Henry, Ohio, answers the question: Where do you find joy in the Gospel? You may remember Corey from his recent post about how the Theology of the Body transformed his life and influenced his decision to pursue the priesthood.
Now, we want to hear from you … where do you find joy in the Gospel?
Share your story with us by filming a 1-2 minute video on your phone or tablet, upload it to YouTube, Vimeo or another player, send the link here and, upon review, we’ll post it on The Cor Project and Christopher West blog and social media!
My recent blog about the pains and trials of abstaining from sex in the practice of Natural Family Planning (NFP) stirred some great online discussion and some intense emotions. Rereading my blog in light of some of the reactions to it, I’d like to revise the following paragraphs. Here’s what I had written:
While I certainly sympathize with (and have experienced) the real difficulties of living Catholic teaching on married love, I feel compelled to address various misconceptions about TOB and NFP inherent in this person’s comments.
This person is certainly correct: living Catholic teaching on marriage is not “sunshine and roses all the time.” Christian marriage is a call to love “as Christ loves,” and that call always passes by way of the cross. There’s no getting around it. To live Catholic teaching on marriage (and life in general) is to become well acquainted with the sufferings of Christ, which were, indeed, bitter. Anyone who presents Catholic teaching without the cross is not presenting Catholic teaching.
Obviously, I was trying to acknowledge the real difficulties of remaining faithful to Catholic teaching. But, in retrospect, I think the way I put this was a little glib. I jumped too quickly from my reference to the cross to the other points I wanted to make. Here’s how I’d like to revise what I said in those paragraphs above:
“Yes, [John Paul II’s Theology of the Body offers] an awesome theoretical system, and it will change your life positively. But it should never be sold as sunshine and roses all the time. If, say, your wife could die with another pregnancy, all the theory is pretty pointless when you dare not touch your beautiful, beloved wife for fear of killing her. In my experience, my unmarried young friends love Theology of the Body (TOB) and Natural Family Planning (NFP). My married friends with multiple kids – not so much.”
So went a comment I recently received on Facebook. While I certainly sympathize with (and have experienced) the real difficulties of living Catholic teaching on married love, I feel compelled to address various misconceptions about TOB and NFP inherent in this person’s comments.