How Theology of the Body Changed My Life
How Theology of the Body Changed My Life
In this life we are all “treasure hunters” seeking the treasures of authentic freedom, happiness, and love. Those treasures reveal the real God. We are all trying to find that hidden map that will lead us to what satisfies the thirst we have in our soul and body.
When I took the Theology of the Body Institute’s weeklong TOB1: Head and Heart Immersion course, I found that hidden map that we are all looking for. While I was “holding it,” I was thinking: “No way … I found it! I found it and I need to tell everyone!” I began to cry every day because I have been a practicing Catholic my whole life and had never heard of this glorious vision of our faith explaining why we believe what we believe.
And it wasn’t just the map that I found. I found the treasure too, and I saw it with my own eyes! It’s real and I could not believe it. I will do my best to share with you what I was experiencing on this course.
In the book of Genesis, God created the earth, waters, stars, mountains and all living creatures and said “behold it is very good” (Gn 1:31). A better translation is: “Behold it is beautiful/good to see.” God’s grand finale, to top off all the goodness of his created work, is man and woman naked without shame, created in His image and likeness (Cf. Gn 1:26). Everyone knows this passage, but I did not see the human person as the most beautiful in creation (image of God). I would see, for example, a sunset as more beautiful, but in the beginning, Adam and Eve experienced seeing each other as the most beautiful image of God.
After the fall, we experience an “echo” of the beginning. What do I mean by this “echo”? Imagine a lover and his beloved. The beloved sees her lover’s eyes and face in awe when he looks at the glorious stars at night or the sunrise at dawn. The beloved recognizes in her heart that she is meant to be looked upon in this way and realizes in the beginning the woman was gazed upon as the greatest image of the All-beautiful One. Not to be used, but to be loved.
Through this TOB1 course, God gifted me with a sight that allowed me to gaze on a woman and not desire to lust, which I did not think was possible. When I began to experience this sight, I could not help but weep because I could not believe that this was real. I experienced true freedom. In other words, God wrote His law on my heart (Cf. Heb 8:10) and teachings on human sexuality and love that so often are reduced to Church “rules” instead became desirable and attractive!
As the week unfolded, it also illuminated the significance of the Mass. I recognized that, during reception of the Holy Eucharist, I wasn’t only seeing the “treasure” (God in the Eucharist) but tasting Him, consuming Him and becoming a part of Him. The All-powerful, All- loving, and All-beautiful One is present in the Eucharist, and for the first time I recognized the gravity of this.
Is this not the treasure we long for? I always knew this about the Eucharist, but this course allowed me to experience it. Mass was no longer a chore but rather Heaven on Earth! St. John Paul II calls the Eucharist “the sacrament of the Bridegroom and the Bride” (Mulieris Dignitatem 26), when we become one body, one spirit in Christ. This is why St. Paul relates the one-flesh union of man and woman as a mystery to the sacrament of the Eucharist (Cf. Eph 5: 31-32). TOB1 made all of this come alive!
Imagine a wedding in a Catholic Church, when the bridegroom sees his bride walk down the aisle. He is rejoicing inside, smiling, and maybe in tears seeing his stunning bride approach him. The bride is looking at her bridegroom in thanksgiving and excitement as well. Now imagine how much more the eternal Bridegroom rejoices in seeing us, the Bride, walk down the aisle approaching Him. How much more should we be approaching the eternal Bridegroom with reverence and thanksgiving seeing Him standing at the front of the altar? He delights in seeing us, and oh how we should delight in seeing Him. But we must not forget that this Eucharist is a sacrificial offering. We are laying our lives down with Him, just like at a wedding.
When I returned home from TOB1, I told my parents about my experience and said that they have to go because they will see each other and all of creation differently. After a lot of persuasion, they went and told me it was the best week of their lives! Praise God. They are now giving talks on Theology of the Body at local parishes and want to continue being formed by this teaching. By God’s grace our family has become so much closer.
This course not only taught me the major themes in John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, but it allowed me to see the theology in the body! I began to see God in every-body! He purified my heart, and what does Scripture say when we have pure hearts? “They shall see God.” (Mt 5:8)
This course is priceless. Why? Because money can’t buy true freedom. If you long for this freedom, I invite you to consider coming to this course. I promise, you will find it there.
Brendan McCauley hails from Washington and studied business/marketing at Washington State University. He is currently in his second year at John Paul II Institute in Washington, D.C., and studying towards a master’s degree in Theology: Marriage and Family. He has attended several Institute courses and hopes to develop a Theology of the Body speaking ministry.
Join laity, clergy and religious from around the world at an upcoming Theology of the Body 1: Head and Heart Immersion course, where you will learn truths of the faith that will echo in your heart. Watch student Brendan McCauley’s story on how his life was transformed by TOB1, and click on the button below to find out when upcoming TOB1 courses are scheduled.