World renown Theology of the Body speaker to visit campus

Christopher West, a well-known Theology of the Body speaker, is coming to Benedictine.  Photo by The Cor Project, courtesy of Bill Howard.

By Ellen Petersen, The Circuit.

This semester brought another chapter of Christopher West’s series on Theology of the Body as led by Campus Ministry’s One Love team.

The series, taking place each Thursday evening all semester, is set up in a “DVD and discussion” style platform.

“Theology of the Body is basically the way of seeing the human person through a sacramental lens,” said senior Lauren Benzing, One Love team leader. “It means seeing human beings as a visible sign of an invisible reality. It is literally stamped on our bodies.”

Katherine Dea, One Love’s coordinator, agrees.

“For me, being created in the image and likeness of God did not make sense until studying Theology of the Body,” Dea said. “Now it is just so clear- He made us to be in the image of life-giving love.”

West explains that Theology of the Body was actually created as Pope John Paul II’s response to the sexual revolution of the 1960s. It is a collection of 129 articles tackling all the major issues regarding gender, sexuality and spirituality and how it all fits into the bigger picture.

“Our bodies are theological because they tell God’s story,” said West. “If you have a body, this theology applies to you. Theology of the Body is about learning to love in the image of God, learning to love as Christ loves.”

The One Love team and West both want to stress that Theology of the Body is still relevant to today’s issues and applies to everyone.

“[The biggest challenge we face today is] the total separation of the person from the body,” West said. “We think of the person as a soul trapped in a ‘living meat skeleton.’ There’s a name for the separation of body and soul. It’s called death. Theology of the Body restores us to life by re-uniting body and soul.”

“These truths are already in us, they’re stamped right in our humanity,” West continued. “They’ve been buried by layers and layers of debris, by lies and fears and wounds. But they’re still in us. Teaching TOB is like taking people on a dig for buried treasure in their own hearts.”

Half way through the semester, Benedictine College Ministry is hosting an event likely to attract more than those already involved in Love and Responsibility. Students actually have the opportunity to hear West speak on “Sex, Gender and Jesus.”

The team feels that West’s visit is both extremely exciting and important for the Benedictine campus. For them, this opportunity to hear him speak carries with itself a certain necessity.

“There are two extremes when it comes to misunderstanding the human body,” Dea said. “There is the puritanical view and the “junk food diet”- the addict. We have both of those at BC in varying degrees. I think this is so important for our campus because there are people who struggle with sexual sin- and they feel isolated.”

Dea and Benzing hope to further integrate Theology of the Body into Benedictine culture and help people understand that sexual sin is still prevalent amidst a Catholic campus.

“We’ve all been damaged by our sexually distorted culture,” West said. “I always start with desire. Desire for love, desire for fulfillment, desire for happiness, desire for truth, goodness, and beauty. When all the confusion is cleared and we’re staring at our hearts as they really are, eros (our sexual desire) is a yearning for God. All conversations, whether they’re with believers or nonbelievers, have to begin with an honest look at our deepest desires.”

Dea and Benzing are both able to attest to the fact that sometimes truth is not the most comfortable, however, they strongly encourage students of all types to attend West’s talk.

“He really is a person who is able to call others to a higher level of greatness and help people believe it is possible so that they can view themselves as good and capable,” Benzing said. “I think a lot of us struggle with the question of identity more than we realize. We are all in need of healing and re-orientation toward Christ.”

West’s talk will be taking place on March 2 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. in the Abbey Church and is free of charge. For more information, contact Katherine Dea or Lauren Benzing.