Theology of the Body for Young People Part II

Last month’s column covered some of the key teachings from St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body that can help form our students in a whole and holy approach to understanding the body and sexuality. Growing up in a culture where relativism and a radical sense of autonomy influence our moral thinking, children and teens can be easily persuaded by secular ideas about the body, such as:

‘Have you heard of Natural Family Planning?'

"I just don’t feel right,” the post-partum mom told me as we waited together outside the classroom to pick up our preschoolers. She’d just had her third C-section three weeks earlier and her incision wasn’t healing well. She also shared with me that she’d had an IUD placed during the C-section. “I don’t do hormones, so this was our only option,” she said. She had three children spaced closely and her body needed a break. But she was worried and uncomfortable about what the IUD might be doing to her body, in addition to her other post-partum complications. “Have you heard of natural family planning?” I asked her. “NFP is completely healthy, with no side effects. It’s highly effective, and it’s good for your relationship as well.” She was interested and asked me to bring her more information next time we met outside the preschool door. 

Youth synod final report released, addresses gender, sexuality

VATICAN CITY – The final report of the fifteenth general session of the Synod of Bishops, held on the topics of young people, faith and vocational discernment, was released Saturday. The document says the church must find new ways of presenting its teaching on sexuality and continue to “accompany” and “listen to” people with same-sex attraction.

Pope Paul VI, prophet

This coming July, we will mark the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s deeply controversial encyclical letter Humanae Vitae. I won’t bore you with the details of the innumerable battles, disagreements and ecclesial crises that followed upon this text. Suffice it to say that this short, pithily argued letter became a watershed in the post-conciliar Catholic Church and one of the most significant points of contention between liberals and conservatives. Its fundamental contention is that the moral integrity of the sexual act is a function of the coming together of its “procreative and unitive” dimensions. That is to say, sexual intercourse is ethically upright only in the measure that it is expressive of love between married partners and remains open to the conception of a child. When, through a conscious choice, the partners introduce an artificial block to procreation — when, in a word, they separate the unitive and procreative finalities of the sexual act — they do something which is contrary to God’s will.

The incarnational power of the Theology of the Body

Christmas celebrates the gift of the Incarnation: the Word made flesh, God himself taking on a human body to reveal his love to us. The body is so important in Christianity. The body matters. The body speaks. Its language reveals to us our call to be a total self-gift in love. That is the central insight of St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, a series of teachings on man, woman and love which he gave in the early years of his pontificate.

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