An End-of-Year Look at a Memorable 2018!



Theology of the Body Institute team: (l-r) Bill Donaghy, Christopher West, Bill Howard, Alyson Lindner, Jennifer Settle, Michele Sankus and Jason Clark.

It’s been an exciting year for the Theology of the Body Institute. As we wrap up 2018, I want to share with you some of the many highlights of this past year that show your prayers and support are reaching hearts around the globe. I and the TOB Institute team are so grateful for your support, and we cannot wait to share some exciting plans for 2019!

Merry Christmas,


Christopher West

President, Theology of the Body Institute

2018 TOB Institute and Cor Project Highlights

TOB Institute 

* The biggest news came on August 15 — the Feast of the Assumption — when the Institute announced a merger with The Cor Project. This joining of forces, according to Christopher West, Institute president, “will allow the programs and courses of the TOB Institute to expand their reach in tandem with The Cor Project’s global evangelization efforts and membership program.” Read more here.

* Christopher, Bill Donaghy and Jen Settle taught nine week-long TOB immersion coursesthrough the Theology of the Body Institute to 690 students representing 14 countries. Among the students were 81 clergy (priests, deacons) and religious/consecrated. One TOB 1 course was held for the first time at St. Meinrad, Ind., in March. Another highlight was the return of Father Timothy Gallagher’s “TOB and the Interior Life” course, which also featured Christopher and Father Jason Smith adding richness to Father Gallagher’s instruction on Ignatian Discernment.

* Nine students graduated from the Certification Program.

* Theology of the Body 1 was held for FOCUS Missionaries at Ave Maria University.

* A new certification course was offered, “TOB & Spiritual Direction: The Art of Accompaniment,” with new faculty: Rev. Thomas Acklin, OSB and Rev. Boniface Hicks, OSB (co-sponsored by St. Vincent Archabbey).

* The Institute offered its first “Missio” training program for certification students — taught by Christopher West, Bill Donaghy, Rose Sweet and Jen Settle.

* Bill Donaghy had 32 speaking engagements in 14 different states. Audiences included:

— Lay faithful, seminarians, priests, parishes, universities, parents and teens, young adults, married couples, men’s ministry, pro-life leaders and diocesan staff.

— High school faculty

— Legatus leaders

— FOCUS missionaries

— Mennonite Leadership

— The Marians of the Immaculate Conception order of priests and brothers

— Culture Project missionaries

— The St. John Paul II Shrine in Washington, DC

The Cor Project

* Cor Membership was relaunched as the Theology of the Body Community, a subscription-based online platform that features resources to help you unpack St. John Paul II’s beautiful teachings, access to the Theology of the Body Institute team, and a community of people ready to journey with you. Learn more here.

* The Cor Project visited 16 states and traveled to six countries while leading 42 live events in 2018. From Brazil, Spain, Poland, England, Canada and Italy, the Cor team spread the TOB throughout the world to Catholic and Christian audiences with your support. Our visit to Poland included a special meeting with St. Pope John Paul II”s personal secretary Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who presented Christopher with a first-class relic of JPII in gratitude for his promotion of the TOB for the past 20 years.

* We held 12 of our new Made for More events, with several reaching full capacity attendance. We also held several Our Bodies Proclaim the Gospel conferences for Protestant communities, as well as Living the Joy of Love weekend conferences.

* Christopher embarked on a summer 2018 speaking tour to promote the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae. He released a booklet, Eclipse of the Body, in conjunction with the anniversary and it has sold several thousand copies and already gone into a second printing.

* The Cor Project continued to expand its publishing efforts, releasing or re-releasing SIX books by Christopher this year: Theology of the Body for Beginners (revised); Love Is Patient But I’m Not; Eclipse of the Body; Word Made Flesh: A Companion to the Sunday Readings, Fill These Hearts (new paperback version) and Good News About Sex & Marriage (updated). Several have deeply discounted bulk discounts for parishes and large study groups on the product page.

* On social media, Christopher’s Facebook page (@cwestofficial) has grown to nearly 102,000 likes. His Instagram page more than doubled to about 3,500 followed.

* On Aug. 30, Christopher and Bill Donaghy collaborated on a live Facebook event: A Hopeful Response to the Sexual Crisis in the Church.

* The Cor Project held its annual pilgrimage from Nov. 8-20, this time journeying with 95 pilgrims from around the world to Italy. Among the highlights were almost an hour alone in the Sistine Chapel, where Christopher gave a 30-minute talk; Mass and a reflection in front of Bernini’s Teresa in Ecstasy masterpiece at Santa Maria della Vittoria; and a special reflection in St. Peter Square at the spot of the assassination attempt on John Paul II. Our two chaplains, Fr. Ryan Mann and Fr. Patrick Schultz, did an amazing job (we recorded their homilies). We also had a pilgrim couple’s baby receive a kiss from Pope Francis during his Wednesday audience. A videographer traveled with us, and footage will be unveiled in the coming months. It was an unforgettable journey filled with faith, fun and delicious food. Stay tuned for the announcement of details of our next two pilgrimages: Mexico City in October 2019 and our much-anticipated first Holy Land pilgrimage in February 2020!

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COR THOUGHTS 274: The Indissolubility of Marriage and Flat Tire Syndrome


In this Sunday’s Gospel, when the Pharisees try to justify divorce, Jesus appeals “the beginning of creation” in order to reestablish the indissolubility of marriage. It was never God’s design for marriages to end in divorce. Moses allowed divorce, Jesus tells the Pharisees, because of the “hardness of your hearts.” Because of the effects of sin, it’s as if we’re all driving around town in cars with flat tires. The rubber is shredding off the rims; the rims are getting all dented up; and we think it’s all normal. After all, everyone’s tires look this way. Jesus is saying to the Pharisees (and to all of us), “At the beginning of creation, they had air in their tires.” At the same time—and this is the good news!—Christ is injecting his listeners with hope … hope of restoration … hope of healing … hope of redemption. For “Jesus came to restore creation to the purity of its origins” (CCC 2336). Lord Jesus, re-inflate our flat tires!

252. The Mass Tells the Love Story of All Love Stories

Transforming Your Mass Experience with the TOB Lens Pt. 2

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[NOTE: This two-part series of blog posts is excerpted from Christopher’s new book Word Made Flesh: A Companion to the Sunday Readings (Ave Maria Press). The book highlights the next liturgical cycle (C) beginning with Advent, and subsequent cycles will be released before Advent in 2019 and 2020. Order the book individually or at our exclusive 50% parish bulk discount here (US shipping only at this time). Order the e-book version here.]

Let’s try to let this essential message sink in: the Song of Songs, this unabashed celebration of erotic love, expresses the essence of biblical faith. How so? The essence of bib­lical faith is that God came among us in the flesh not only to forgive our sins (as astounding as that gift is); he became “one flesh” with us so we could share in his eternal exchange of love. In the first of his many ser­mons on the Song of Songs, St. Bernard of Clairvaux aptly described marriage as “the sacrament of endless union with God.” The book of Revelation calls this endless union the “marriage of the Lamb” (Rv 19:7).

But there is more. Remember that pithy rhyme we learned as children: “First comes love, then comes mar­riage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage”? We probably didn’t realize as children that we were actually reciting some profound theology. Yes, our bodies tell a divine story; our bodies tell the story that God loves us, wants to marry us, and wants us to “conceive” eternal life within us. This is not merely a metaphor.

251. Transforming Your Mass Experience with the TOB Lens Pt. 1

West Email Header_DESKTOP

[NOTE: This two-part series of blog posts are excerpted from Christopher’s new book Word Made Flesh: A Companion to the Sunday Readings (Ave Maria Press). The book highlights the next liturgical cycle (C) beginning with Advent, and subsequent cycles will be released before Advent in 2019 and 2020. Order the book individually or at our exclusive 50% parish bulk discount here (US shipping only at this time). Order the e-book version here.]

Christianity is the religion of the “Word” of God, a word which is “not a written and mute word, but the Word which is incarnate and living” (St. Bernard). If the Scriptures are not to remain a dead letter, Christ, the eternal Word of the living God, must, through the Holy Spirit, “open [our] minds to understand the Scriptures” (Lk 24:45).

—Catechism of the Catholic Church, 108

The sacred words of Scripture are, of course, critically important to our faith. “Still, the Christian faith is not a ‘religion of the book,’” as the Catechism insists (108). It is the religion of the Divine Word that “became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (Jn 1:14). Scripture, in fact, will remain a dead letter unless every word of it is read in view of the Word made flesh.

That is the purpose of the volume you now hold in your hands. Inspired by the scriptural vision St. John Paul II unfolded for us in his 129 Wednesday audi­ences from 1979 to 1984 that came to be known as the “Theology of the Body” (TOB), the brief, prayer­ful reflections on the Sunday readings in this book are intended to “open [our] minds to understand the Scrip­tures” by reading them in light of “the Word which is incarnate and living.”

COR THOUGHTS 273: Seeing the Gratuitous Beauty of the Human Body


In this weekend’s Gospel, Jesus employs some extreme words to warn us of the seriousness of sin: “And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna.” Modern adaptation: “If your iPhone causes you to sin, throw it away. If your laptop causes you to sin, get rid of it.” Yes, this is the seriousness with which we should seek purity of heart. But, let us also be clear on this point: If at first we must “pluck out our eyes” in our struggle against sin, “if we persevere in following Christ our Teacher,” says John Paul II, “we feel less and less burdened by the struggle against sin, and we enjoy more and more the divine light which pervades all creation.” In turn, this light affords “an ever greater awareness of the gratuitous beauty of the human body, of masculinity and femininity,” says John Paul II. “This is most important, because it allows us to escape from a situation of constant inner exposure to the risk of sin – even though, on this earth, the risk always remains present to some degree – so as to move with ever greater freedom within the whole created world [including in] our relations with … the opposite sex” (Memory and Identity, p. 29). Lord, give us eyes to see!