As you may already know, Pure in Heart’s mission is inspired by the writings of Pope St. John Paul II, mainly his, ‘Theology of the Body‘ and ‘Love and Responsibility’. Pure in Heart’s mission is particularly focused on the area of chastity. However, there is so much more in the Theology of the Body (TOB) that we have not covered. TOB is something you could spend the rest of your life trying to unpack and understand and still never fully comprehend. It is beautifully written and incredibly rich. It really provides for great meditation on our relationship with Christ and our identity. But if I’m being honest, looking at the book, it doesn’t look like the most inviting piece of material I’ve ever encountered. Even though I’ve been living and experiencing TOB for three years, that book still scares me. It’s big and intimidating and I don’t know where to begin with it. However, it is something that is to be more than read, it is to be lived and experienced, like the Scriptures. It is also a way of life and a vision of identity that others have developed a deeper understanding of than I. And I have been blessed to learn from them, in the simple, yet powerful witness of how they live their lives. TOB is something we learn in communion with Christ and with others. Here are some incredible resources, should you wish to discover the fullness of God’s plan for human life and love.
Theology of the Body Study Programme
This is where my journey with TOB began, and in turn, where I began to develop true friendship with Christ. Before discovering TOB, although I had a deep love for the Lord, I viewed my relationship with Him, to some degree, as a servant and master relationship. I knew of His love for me and I served Him with great love and my only desire was to please Him, but I had not experienced a friendship with Him. I walked into this programme with hesitation and with all misconceptions imaginable. I am grateful now for the encouragement that was given to me at the time to just ‘try it out’. I fell in love with the message in the first session! By the end of the course, I had such a desire to share it but I had no idea how. So, I encouraged a friend of mine to run it again the following year. Due to unforeseen circumstances, I had to step in and lead the programme at the last minute. I was 18 with no previous experience. I’m so glad that I ended up in that situation. It challenged me to dive deep into what I had already learned, and I learned so much more the second time around. This programme created a beautiful community of young people that got to grow in friendship and virtue together. I share this to encourage you. If you can’t find a place like that, create it. If I can do it, you can. I had no experience and a few hours notice. This may sound cheesy but, indeed, God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. I encourage you if you don’t have a place of community yet or a place to learn, pray and see if the Lord is calling you to be the person who creates it. If He is, He will provide everything you need and He will do so in abundance. He will provide His Spirit, the place, the people, and everything else in between.
The programme that I was first introduced to is ‘YOU: Life, Love and the Theology of the Body’. They now also have an online version, which you can take any time. Another great option is a Theology of the Body Bible Study. FOCUS provides one on their app for free, I recently participated in a virtual session run by a friend of mine. It is a beautiful way of combining TOB with the Scriptures.
ECHO Theology of the Body Retreats with Dumb Ox Ministries
‘Dumb Ox Ministries works with teens, young adults and families; cultivating their authentic masculinity and femininity through the Theology of the Body, helping them to prepare for, discern, and pursue their unique vocations to love.’ – www.dumboxministries.com
Dumb Ox Ministries have given me life-changing opportunities to journey in relationship with Christ, that I had never dreamed could be possible. I was blessed to be a summer missionary for them in 2019, which brought me to three of their ECHO Theology of the Body summer camps. Their ECHO retreats are a week-long head and heart immersion in the Theology of the Body. Through the lens of the Theology of the Body, Dumb Ox unpack the Scriptures and draw us into Christ’s invitation to experience human life, love, and relationship with the Father that we were created for. And it’s done with a community of young people coming from all walks of life, discovering this message the same time that you are. Dumb Ox Ministries taught me how to live out of a place of relationship with the Father, in a place of receptivity to His love. While I do sometimes momentarily lose sight of this, it is a place that I will spend the rest of my life drawing back to. It was incredibly valuable for my second year of mission with Pure in Heart, but even more valuable for 2020. While the world was in chaos in many ways during the lockdown, I had the gift of being able to enter into the heart of the Father in a deeper way. I also have to thank them for my current relationship with God in the Scriptures. It was during my time with Dumb Ox that I first clung to my bible like never before! The more I discovered who I am, the more I discovered who He is.
If you ever get the opportunity to attend an ECHO retreat, take it! You will not regret it.
I’ve shared with you throughout this post the value of community. At Pure in Heart, we are continually discovering Christ’s invitation to have life abundant (John 10:10). This is done simply in our everyday lives. Not by doing but by being. Being with Him, being available to Him and by being in communion with others, You may be the only person you know who is discovering this message of chastity and identity. I know that feeling, so many of us do, and despite what you’re circumstances might tell you, you are not alone. If you are in that situation then I would highly recommend you find a community. Pray for it. Most ministries are running online now, so even if you can’t find a nearby community, you may be able to find one that you can connect with online. I know it is not the same, but it is so much better than being alone or feeling isolated in your journey with God. The community of Pure in Heart grew so much during the lockdown. Because the way people lived their every day had changed and the way we were able to minister changed, more people discovered Pure in Heart and are now part of the community. Until you do find a community, keep informing yourself. Pure in Heart has been able to produce so much content in the past few months, between blogs, podcasts, the Pure in Heart Show with Radio Maria, and our social media posts, we hope that they bring you nourishment as you continue to discover more of TOB. Read good books, keep in His word daily. The beauty in God’s creation is that everyone and every mission created by God reveals His love differently. I pray that this article would encourage you to go in search of more, and if you haven’t already, to begin journeying with Him in the Theology of the Body. If the desire to discover more of God is there, linger on God’s word during this time and be not afraid to journey into the mystery of God and your identity as His beloved child.