After nearly a decade of teaching Theology of the Body to high school students, what difference has it made? I’m continually amazed to see how learning about God’s plan for our lives transforms young people and their experience of the world around them.
The first change is often in the way students approach the topic. Instead of something they are being forced to learn, it becomes something they want to hear. They answer questions, reflect more while at home, and look forward to conversations about Theology of the Body and the faith.
Secondly, young people whose lives are being slowly transformed by understanding who they are and who they are created to be tend to share what they have learned. It is amazing to hear of conversations with friends, family, other teachers and (eventually) strangers. In particular, I have been struck by the impact of students speaking with their parents and siblings about Theology of the Body.
An especially encouraging outgrowth of learning Theology of the Body is how it affects one’s sense of vocation. Concretely, I have witnessed at least five young men enter the seminary and one young woman enter religious life. Some eventually discern that this is not their call, but the fact that students just out of high school or college are so serious about discernment is incredible. They perceive that perhaps God might be calling them to make vows as a priest or religious and are happy offer a “Yes” if that is truly their call.
An especially encouraging outgrowth of learning Theology of the Body is how it affects one’s sense of vocation.
Others are called to marriage. Just this past year I was blessed to attend two weddings of former students. How incredibly beautiful to see how thoughtfully they chose the readings, songs and prayers for the Nuptial Mass! It was clear at both weddings that these young adults understood that marriage is a vocation and a path to holiness.
In addition to vocational discernment, I have seen many other ways in which learning Theology of the Body impacts these young adults’ futures. Some volunteer with retreats or youth groups. Others choose paper topics in college that allow them opportunities to read more about Theology of the Body or St. John Paul II’s writings. And the number actively engaged in their college campus ministry programs is astounding.
It’s true that Theology of the Body is not the panacea we might hope it to be. Every person has free will and can choose whether or not to follow God’s plan. But armed with an understanding of the incredible dignity of the human person and the call to love which God has entrusted to us, young people are making beautiful decisions to follow Christ more fully.
Every young person has a unique story and a particular call. Learning Theology of the Body helps them to understand more fully who they are and how God is calling them to love. Witnessing the ripple effect of lives transformed will never cease to be astonishing.
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