In Redwood City the Daughters were really avant-garde. We had to be. After all, this was California! In 2007 our media techie, Sr. Domenica, scraped together some funds to buy a screen for our Pauline Books & Media Center, so we could show promo videos we made locally about our titles. They weren’t spit and polish, but they were attention grabbing. And people responded.
So, when Michael Waldstein completed a new translation of the Wednesday General Audiences that Pope John Paul had delivered on his Theology of the Body, on-screen promotion was a given. Author George Weigel had once called the Pope’s series a “theological time bomb.” We knew we had published a monumental work in Man and Woman He Created Them, and we wanted to set off fireworks.
Perched atop a stool next to an instore display of the book, I told the camera that this was a must-have—challenging, but well worth the effort. Spontaneously, enthusiastically, to the camera’s utter delight, I described the features and read a passage or two. This was John Paul’s masterpiece: his Christian approach to anthropology, with unique insights into relationships and human sexuality, especially in connection with marriage. Since the presentation was unscripted, I hesitated at times, looking for the words that could do it justice. It didn’t take long, though, for me to hit my stride, and the finished product was presentable, if not professional. The camera, of course, agreed.
Soon after, our provincial superior and another sister were visiting from Boston. As they looked around the new PBM Center, they became engrossed in shelving, layout, and lighting. Sr. Margaret’s papal eloquence was soon ignored as white noise.
“And, if you’re like me and you’re not married, don’t despair!” Startled by my intensity, our two visitors spun around to face the screen. What on earth is Margaret saying now? Is she starting a dating service?
“It’s not that this doesn’t have anything to do with us,” I continued. “It does. There are at least fifty pages on what John Paul II calls ‘Continence for the Kingdom of Heaven.’” If you know what I mean.
If you don’t, allow me: It means that not even celibates miss out on the Theology of the Body. To live a healthy, integrated, and holy life, we’d better not! True, Man and Woman He Created Them is mostly about sexuality in marriage. One of its benefits, though, is its invitation also to those of us vowed to celibate chastity to understand the physical, psychological, and spiritual dimensions of our sexuality in the light of God’s Word. As we do, we can esteem even more how it weaves into our relationships with God, our communities, our families and friends, and the people we serve…here and hereafter. This consecrated chastity then becomes the gift that not only God gives us, but that we give back to him and to the world in which we live. It’s a world that, even without realizing it, is waiting for just such a message.
This past July 9-11, seven hundred laity, clergy, and religious turned out to share that message at the annual Theology of the Body Congress in Philadelphia. Go to www.tobcongress.com for photos and news. Ascension Press is now selling CDs of the talks online. Paulines also lent a hand at the Congress, especially through the publications that first helped detonate such a “theological time bomb” over three decades ago.
Though a great event in its own right, the gathering served as a kind of dry run for the Eighth World Meeting of Families, to be held in Philadelphia in September 2015. Archbishop Chaput has invited Pope Francis. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.
Whether you’re a Pauline Cooperator or a consecrated member of the Pauline Family, John Paul’s Theology of the Body can spark something new in the way you see yourself and your relationships. Set off a Roman candle of your own from Pauline Books & Media.
OK, here it is—the nine-minute video now on YouTube. What ideas do you think John Paul might have for you or someone you know?