My Catholic education gave me a sense of direction, but when I was in school (back in ancient history), issues related to marriage and sexuality seemed pretty straightforward. Speaking for myself, I have to say that I did not get a very strong background in where the Church's teachings were coming from; I could only tell you (in a very rudimentary way) what those teachings were.
Then Pope John Paul II was elected.
He dedicated almost five years of his papacy to correcting that lack, giving Catholics the "big picture." He started "in the beginning" with Adam and Eve. He spoke almost every Wednesday morning about "original nakedness"; "being naked without shame" and other things that Popes had never thought to express in public. He spoke of the true meaning of eroticism (as an energy meant to draw us to beauty--and to God); why there is no marriage in heaven; what is the real problem with birth control; what Jesus meant in calling some to celibacy for the Kingdom. He remarked that being "created in the image of God, male and female" tells us something about the Trinity. He delved into five books of the Bible in particular: Genesis, Song of Songs, Tobit, Matthew, Ephesians, making this a rich, biblical understanding of human relationships.
Pope John Paul called this a "theology of the body."
If you have ever had to explain the Church's stance on same-sex unions, the contraception mandate, divorce and other painful realities; if you have been mystified or even scandalized by those teachings, and hesitated to share them with your children or defend them in public, Pope John Paul's Theology of the Body will surprise you with the real beauty, the divine beauty, that is the foundation of every one of those controversial teachings that the media so often refer to as "rules."
I am coordinating an online overview of that Theology of the Body on May 4, 11 and 18. I invite you to visit the bookstore website (www.visit.pauline.org/chicago) to learn more about the program, and to register for it. Even if you cannot join us in real time on those three Saturdays, your registration gives you access to the online video at your convenience. Because the program will be archived as Internet video, this is ideal for groups to use, no matter when they meet: a projector and speakers will allow a roomful of people to share one registration. (The content will keep you talking for days.)
Please ask your local parish to put information in the bulletin as well (at the bottom of this post I have a sample bulletin announcement). On the bookstore site, you will also find a trailer to share on social media. We have a Facebook page and a Google+ community (Theology of the Body), which I invite you to like or join.
BULLETIN NOTICE REQUEST
Please post the following announcement in your email, newsletters, web site and social media, beginning in April (continuing through May 18).
DAUGHTERS OF ST. PAUL
Online Catholic Updating Series on the Theology of the Body, Pope John Paul's meditations on the Bible and the mystery of marriage.
Internet webcast May 4, 11, 18; archived video accessible with registration (www.ustream.tv/channel/TOB-TV)
Information: www.visit.pauline.org/chicago or call 312.854.9656