Theologizing the Body

Theologizing the Body

This has been a long day; but a very good one. We went to a day-long seminar on the Theology of the Body with speaker Christopher West.

We left at 8 this morning and didn’t get home till almost 7 and were a little worried about how Bella would handle being out all day; but she was fabulous. I got so many compliments on how well-behaved she was, how beautiful, and how sweet tempered. Truer words were never spoken. Bella had a great time toddling around, meeting all sorts of new people who let her play with keys and cell phones and even a bracelet (thanks, Genevieve!) she also met a very nice dog, which absolutely made her day.

As I expected, Bella didn’t have a morning nap. We were hoping she’d fall asleep on the way down; but that didn’t happen. Nor did I have any expectation of her being able to fall asleep while there was so much to see and do. She did, however, finally give in and crash after lunch with the help of a tactical retreat to the car for a quick nursing session after which she slept for a solid hour in the stroller at the back of the church where the talk took place. Despite the lack of sleep, though, she kept in good spirits except when she took one tumble and hit her head on the edge of a pew and a meltdown at lunch, which because of the crowd noise could be heard by anyone except our immediate neighbors.

I had a great time too. I wasn’t expecting it to be an occasion for socializing; but I saw some good friends, met several blog readers, and met a fellow UD grad, Angela Franks, with whom I share some mutual friends (She and her family were sharing a pew with us, go figure.).

Christopher West is a dynamic speaker and very funny. Dom and I listened to some of his cds back when we were engaged and my sister saw him this past fall when he spoke at the University of Dallas and I’d really been hoping and praying that he would come to Boston where I think the Theology of the Body is desperately needed. Evidently those prayers have been heard and are being answered.

From what I’ve heard, Cardinal O’Malley is very determined to make this not a one time event but the beginning of a movement. Seventeen offices of the Archdiocese of Boston cooperated in bringing West to Boston. This is the beginning of a new effort in the redemption of the Body in an area where the Church has been gravely wounded by sexual sin, where we have deeply felt the need for such redemption, and which is on the front lines of attack against the Church’s teachings on the meaning of marriage and human sexuality.

There was a wonderful moment at the end of the first talk when West was telling us about the first time he’d heard of the Theology of the Body and pointed to a woman in the audience and said it had been 25 years since that talk when she’d asked him if he’d heard of John Paul II’s teaching and he hadn’t seen her since. What a wonderful reunion. Then he pointed out several sisters in the audience, the Daughters of St Paul who published the book she’d referred him to. Then you could see him making the connections, this aha moment. Here, Boston, was where it all began for him. There is something happening in Boston, he said. Is it possible that here where the Church has suffered so much pain there will spring forth a new movement that will redeem all that suffering and refresh not only the Church here but throughout this country? Certainly with God there are no coincidences. I pray that this is a sign of amazing things to come.

The theology of the body is not new, it’s roots are in the tradition of the Church stretching back to the earliest Church fathers. And yet it is also revolutionary. Which shouldn’t surprise us because to truly embrace Christ is a radical event and his followers must continually renew themselves to face the challenges that each new age brings.

Everyone except the truly blind can see that all the problems besieging us today have their root in a brokenness in our understanding of sexuality. But we Catholics know that God redeems us in our brokenness and that in fact he uses these seeming defeats as opportunities for redemption. Thus out of the wounds dealt by the sexual revolution comes this amazing gift, the deeper understanding of human sexuality as the very place in which human life most clearly images God.

Of course, chasing a very active toddler around, I missed huge chunks of West’s talk. But I was inspired and renewed in my desire to study further, read more, learn more about this wonderful gift of the Theology of the Body, which promises to be the means by which God will work wondrous deeds in our time.

I might write more tomorrow, but tonight I’m drained. And tomorrow we have a birthday party to go to, a shared blow-out for Bella and two of her cousins. It promises to be another day of fun and excitement. I only hope it isn’t too much for little Bella after today’s long haul.

Dom had his laptop with him, liveblogging the entire seminar. Read his notes starting here and click on the links at the top of the page to read his additional entires (five in all).

Learn more about the Theology of the Body at the Theology of the Body Institute

Genevieve Kineke’s reflections on the day here. She says very nice things about me and my family, too! Good to finally meet you, Genevieve.

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  • I have several photographs of Our Lady of Guadalupe I took when I visited her Basilica in 1994 and 1996…if I can find the photos I’d be happy to send you one…or at least scan it in and send you the photo that way.  That would be more valuable to you, I think. 

    I don’t comment much, but you are in my prayers.  You are so blessed with your family!  grin


  • I ave just begun reading TOB. I took my first grad class this spring, Writings of John Paul II, and now that my final paper is finished (emailed it today), I am beginnign TOB. I want to read it in JPII ‘s words directly. But I also have Christopher West’s “Naked Withiout Shame” series on Cd (from, and a book by Dr. Mary Healy to read along with TOB. 

    This is so important for our world today, and so many people don’t ‘get it”. I’ve gone down the wrong road, and I just wish this was being taught back when it would have made a difference for me. 

    So many are taking it up now…it WILL make a difference for today’s youth and adults.

    Anyway, meant to post this in the combox below….but TOB is TOB!  grin 

    God bless!

  • I’d like to find more items depicting Our Lady of La Leche.  The only ones I can find are from a shrine in Florida, which I would like to visit someday if possible.  They have a gift shop, but do not have online sales, and I imagine it would be very difficult to conduct an “okay, describe what you have & the price” conversation by phone!!  wink

  • I have to admit, my parents had a Catholic bookstore for many years and I never saw any images of Our Lady of La Leche come through the store. It might be very hard to find indeed. One thing to consider, though is that Our Lady of la Leche is the Spanish title, and is popular in the US; but it isn’t the title you’ll find elsewhere.  You might also try searching under the more ancient, Latin title, Maria Lactans.

    The postcards that I have I bought when I was in Italy. According to the captions, both are from a museum in Siena. In English they are labeled simply “Madonna and Child,” though the French says “Vierge au Lait” and the Italian has the equivalent title, which I can’t recall at the moment… something Latte.

    If you ever do find a source, let me know. I’d love to acquire a full sized print.

    Meanwhile, here’s a good web-based gallery of images.

  • google madonna lactans and you will find a few
    I have the madonna of the green cushion (a well known madonna lactans) up on my blog page