57. Remaining Faithful to Catholic Teaching Makes Our Lives “Wonderfully Complicated”

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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:

56. Clarifying Some Misconceptions About the Theology of the Body

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“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.

“Where Do You Find Joy in the Gospel?” #5

In the fifth installment of our video series for  “Pope Francis To Go: Bite-Sized Morsels from The Joy of the Gospel”, Tom Hayden of St. Louis, Mo., answers the question: Where do you find joy in the Gospel?

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!

55. Christian Moviegoers: Please Don’t Settle for Bad Art!

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I was deeply troubled by an email I recently received. A “faith-based” movie company was celebrating what makes their audience stand out from regular moviegoers as follows:

The faith-based moviegoer doesn’t buy one ticket … they buy multiple tickets and will likely see the movie more than once. Of the first five faith-based films of 2014, an average of 21.4 percent people saw it more than once. They also believe in the mission of faith-based films. While they aren’t as concerned with the quality of the film, the talent hired, the story, etc., if the theme of the film aligns with their mission or beliefs, they will support it.

Whoa! Hold on! Is the fact that there’s a whole population of people who don’t give a darn about the quality of the movie, the skill of the actors, or the basics of good story telling something to be celebrated!? “Hey, isn’t this great? Our target audience will support our movies and buy lots of tickets even if we make bad movies!!”

No! This is not great! This is appalling!

54. The “Bloody Mess” of Following Christ: Fifth Surprise in Pope Francis To Go: Bite-Sized Morsels from The Joy of the Gospel

unnamed-5In a recent interview I was asked: What five things will most surprise readers when they read Pope Francis To Go: Bite-Sized Morsels from The Joy of the Gospel? Concluding my series of blogs on this topic, here was my fifth response:

His call to get beyond our self-enclosed and self-absorbed worlds and get our shoes “soiled with the mud of the street.” We mustn’t be afraid, he insists, to enter the messy reality of people’s lives. When we do, “our lives become wonderfully complicated.”

A person with a missionary heart doesn’t look at the world through binoculars. He or she is intimately involved in the life of others, and that means having a willingness to “bleed” with others. We mustn’t keep the Lord’s wounds at arm’s length, says Pope Francis. We must be willing to touch others’ wounds—if they grant us the honor of doing so—with tenderness.