VIDEO: How Theology of the Body Illuminates the Mysteries of the Rosary

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This reflection was recorded by Christopher West Oct. 7, 2016, the Feast of the Holy Rosary. Christopher takes viewers on a journey through this popular Catholic devotion, giving ways to break out of a stale way of “praying the rosary” and learn how to enter into the “mystical rose garden” that is the ROSARIUM (rosary). The Theology of the Body shines a glorious light on all the Mysteries of the Rosary.

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Saints Joachim and Anne: The Icon of Marital Love

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Several years ago, while a Byzantine Catholic priest was giving me a tour of his church, I spotted a large, prominent icon of a couple embracing. Looking closer, I realized there was a marriage bed behind them. It was clear that this was a beautifully chaste portrayal of marital love and union. Of course, with my keen interest in the Theology of the Body and the history of “spousal symbolism” in the Church, I wanted to know the story behind this “icon of marital love” in Eastern theology.

“You know who they are, don’t you?” asked the priest. “No, I don’t.” “That’s Joachim and Anne,” he said. “Do you know what we call this icon?” “No, I don’t,” I replied, with interest in learning. “The Immaculate Conception.” I was filled with a sense of wonder and also with deep gratitude for the “holy daring” often found in the Eastern theological tradition.

COR THOUGHTS 214: The Treasure and the Field

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For a few weeks now we’ve been reflecting in the Sunday readings on the “earth,” the “land,” and the “soil” as symbols of the “Bride” – ultimately, as symbols of Mary. The same theme continues in this week’s Gospel: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field which a person finds … and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Mt 13:44). The treasure, of course, is Jesus. And the field is Mary. To get the treasure, the person in the parable had to buy the field. You can’t have Jesus without Mary. Adam and Eve (the first and the second) always go together. They’ve been indissolubly united by God. “If, then, it is impossible to separate what God has united,” wrote Pope St. Pius X, “it is also certain that you cannot find Jesus except with Mary and through Mary.” And St. Louis de Montfort said, “It would be easier to separate the light from the sun than Mary from Jesus.” God comes to us through woman. This is the glory of the female body: in Mary it has become the dwelling place of the Most High God! Let us “sell everything” to have Mary. And in having her, we’ll have the divine treasure within….

220. Do You Know That You Are Indispensable, Irreplaceable and Unrepeatable?

If Not, You’re Missing Out on the Meaning of Your Existence!

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There is no other you. Have you ever let that truth sink in? You reveal a beam of God’s glory that no one else who ever lived or ever will live reveals. You are indispensable to God’s plan for the universe. You cannot be replaced. You cannot be repeated.

A renewed sense of awe regarding the uniqueness of each human person was my takeaway from the privilege I had last week of sitting in on Dr. Pete Colosi’s class on the philosophy of Saint John Paul II. It’s one of eight courses that the Theology of the Body Institute offers as part of its certification program.

Here’s how I wrote about these universal truths in my book Fill These Hearts:

Don’t we long to be loved as we are, for who we really are, and not just for that which may “please” someone else? Don’t we know deep in our hearts that we are never meant to be compared to another, measured by another, or replaced by someone else? Don’t we long deep in our hearts to be loved in such a way that we are honored and recognized as indispensable, irreplaceable, and unrepeatable? And doesn’t it pain our hearts grievously when others treat us merely as objects that can be disposed of and replaced, when others toy with us?

These universal “truths of the heart” were portrayed with remarkable and surprising insight in, of all films, Toy Story 3. Little Andy from the previous films isn’t so little anymore. In fact, he’s headed off to college and he hasn’t played with his toys for years. When the toys steal Andy’s cell phone to get their old friend just to open the toy chest so they can be seen, you can feel their yearning for love. Andy lifts Rex the dinosaur (voiced again by the “in-con-scchhievable” Wallace Shawn) in order to retrieve his phone and, once the coast is clear, Rex exclaims with unbridled elation: “He touched me! He touched me!” There it is – the cry of the heart to be loved, to be touched … God bless him! Rex was starved for affection (listen to me, I think these characters are real people … well, because in a sense they are: they’re images of us). I knew then this movie had more to offer than mere entertainment.

New to the series is Lotso the bear, the self-appointed tyrant leader of all the toys at Sunnyside Daycare. In the course of the movie, we learn the tragic backstory. Lotso had Daisy’s most beloved toy. But then she lost him, and her parents got her another bear just like him. When Lotso found out he had been replaced, he “snapped,” becoming a “monster inside.”

Part of Lotso’s revenge for having been cast off and replaced is that – if he can’t be loved, he won’t let anybody else be loved either; if he’s replaceable, then everybody else is too. At one point Lotso confronts Andy’s favorite toy, Woody: “You think you’re special, Cowboy? You’re a piece of plastic. You were made to be thrown away.” And then when the Ken doll is afraid he’s going to lose Barbie, Lotso says: “She’s a Barbie doll, Ken. There’s a hundred million just like her!” Ken insists: “Not to me there’s not” – and Barbie sighs knowing that Ken loves her; knowing that Ken sees her as unrepeatable, irreplaceable.

In the story, these toys aren’t toys at all. They feel what we feel; they desire what we desire: love. That’s why they’re so relatable. The whole theme of Toy Story 3 is that being replaced and “thrown away” is the opposite of love. We all know that in our hearts, but sometimes we’re acting out our own “revenge” on others for past hurts, like Lotso. When Lotso seems to be having his way and Woody and his pals are doomed for the incinerator, salvation arrives “from above.” In the end, Lotso pays the price for his madness, while love triumphs in the lives of the other toys. Deep stuff for a “kid’s movie.”

Question: How might an appreciation for the uniqueness of each person change the way you go about your day today? Share your answer on Facebook and Twitter.

Image: Toy Story 3/Pixar/Disney.


For such a time as this have we been given Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. By taking us beyond the alternatives of prudish repression and damaging indulgence, the Theology of the Body opens the path to the redemption of sexuality and the real healing of our wounds. Learn more by watching my short film, The Cry of the HeartWatch the trailer below.

Watch the Short Film

219. How to Overcome Cynicism in Our Dark Times with the Virtue of Hope

I host an exclusive live Facebook chat with members of The Cor Project each month (learn more here). I was surprised by the level of interest in the following question someone posted about cynicism:

I have several friends who are quite cynical in nature and, therefore, skeptical of the Theology of the Body. I’ve heard (and tend to believe) that a cynic is deep down a dreamer/romantic who is wounded. How do you deal with folks who are cynical in general?

Here’s how I responded: