Theology of the Body Congress: My experience (part 3)

Here is the next post of what transpired at the 2014 Theology of the Body Congress in Philadelphia.

So the seven keynote addresses during the course of the 3 days were delivered during meal times (not to waste time, I suppose – Great thinking!) In Theology of the Body circles, the speakers are well-known and highly respected:

  1. COMPLEMENTARITY AS MISSION:  MAN, WOMAN AND THE CULTURE OF LIFE (Dr Deborah Savage – Wednesday lunch)
  2. PROCLAIMING THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL WITH TOB:  Pope St John Paul II, Pope Francis and the New Evangelization (Christopher West – Wednesday dinner)
  3. VATICAN II, DIVINE MERCY AND TOB  (Fr Michael Gaitley MIC – Thursday breakfast)
  4. REFLECTION OF POPE ST JOHN PAUL II ON THE HUMAN BODY ( Bishop Jean Laffitte – Thursday lunch)
  5. THEOLOGY OF THE OLD BODY (Prof Janet Smith – Thursday dinner)
  6. TOB AND synods on the Family (Panel of J.Smith, Dr Peter Colosi, Christopher West – Friday Breakfast)
  7. LOVE, MERCY AND THE NEW EVANGELIZATION:  TRANSFORMATION THROUGH REVERENCE FOR THE OTHER (Damon Owens – Friday)

After the keynotes, we were invited to choose from a couple of talks, and move on into breakout sessions.  These, too were delivered by TOB enthusiasts, some very well known to us – Brian Butler – and others either newly transformed by the Catechises or are integrating the TOB into their work and lives in one way or another.

I attended the following breakouts:  (Fr Donald attended others)

  • Something Old Something New: Tradition & Development of Doctrine in the TOB’s teaching on Marriage – Dr John Grabowski
  • Chaste & Fruitful: Transformation of Persons with SSA – Andrew Comiskey
  • Beyond the Buzzwords: moving Teens from Concepts to Integration – Brian Butler
  • TOB & Sexual Addiction – Bernadette Kozak
  • TOB & Pornography – Bill Donaghy, Fr Sean Kilcawley, Dr Peter Kleponis
  1. COMPLEMENTARITY AS MISSION:  MAN, WOMAN AND THE CULTURE OF LIFE  – Dr Deborah Savage

Faced with the confusion and the distorted messages by the media regarding sexuality, Dr Savage opened her talk by stating the obvious I suppose,  particularly when it comes to young people:  If Sex is on their minds, put truth in their hearts.

In a culture where God and Christianity have been side-lined, we are facing a crisis in dignity and identity as  human beings.  “When man Denies God, he denies himself”  she said.

Dr Savage referred to St John Paul II’s “Letter to Women” and focussed on what he had to say about the complementarity of Male and Female and what he meant by it, and sadly how the world-view of sex and relationship, is more about Freedom than Complementarity.

She noted that Complementarity states our mission which is the union of the two which can be summed up as the creation of history itself.

Touching on the objective and subjective Genesis 1 & 2 accounts respectively, she pointed out that Male and Female are equal, that’s true but what makes us different is what is important and rather than referring to Male and Female, she refers to Adam as both “Active and Receptive” (which I found profoundly meaningful!).   This expresses the ‘relational’ aspect of the human person, endowed with intellect and freedom.

Referring to the second account of Genesis, we learn that Man is made from the earth and that woman from man as a helper not as a servant and she referred to the Greek word which I couldn’t get but means “in front of” so Woman was created “in front of” Man.

Each were created of distinct matter yet there was  a complementarity from the beginning.  Her Womanness was both physical and ontological (Bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh..)

Eve’s first contact includes Adam and the rest is on the periphery of her gaze.  Could this be why women are more oriented towards other people?

So from this we can conclude that two equal but differentiated human beings were created.  Dr Savage then quipped that therefore “I don’t have to act like a man to prove I’m human”

In Mulieris Dignitatum, St John Paul II states that in addition to conceive and nurture from the beginning, on the horizon of all humans, is to include the other.  This is why human persons are aware that relationships are important.

                                                                                                                ……to be continued

Part 1   |   Part 2   |   Part 4   |   Part 5

Marie-Anne te Brake

About Marie-Anne te Brake

Happily married to Christo for 36yrs, mother of 4, grandmother of 5, almost 6. Enthusiastic Catholic, Lay Counselor, Sexuality Educator, Theology of the Body enthusiast and Chairperson of Foundation for the Person and the Family

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