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Theology of the Body for the New Evangelization, Part 1
For us catechists, St. John Paul II's "theology of the body" should strike a single, resounding chord in our hearts and minds: "good news!" It is, in essence, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While St. John Paul II's 133 Wednesday catecheses include a profound application to sexual and marital morality, the application occurs primarily at the end of this series of discourses. As a consummate catechist, St. John Paul II knew that grace perfects nature. It doesn't replace nature nor jump ahead of it. Thus, to truly understand how we should act, we have to first understand who we are and what our purpose is. In other words, the foundation of faith is a correct view of the human person, a correct metaphysics. Before you hurriedly skip to another article because you fear I'm about to launch into the philosophical stratosphere, let me reassure you I am not. Like you, I am a catechist in every pore of my being. I live to communicate the faith to others in a concrete and systematic way. However, I am increasingly convinced that our efforts to pass on the faith often fail to be transformative because we assume others have already adequately answered the key human questions of "Who am I?" and "What is my purpose?" Or, perhaps without realizing it, we have relegated those questions to the realm of psychology and philosophy, as if they are irrelevant to theology and catechetics. In truth, these two questions constitute the core of Christianity. The cataclysmic shock Christianity introduced into history was not its moral teachings; other cultures and religions embraced and taught similar moral norms. Rather, the novelty of Christianity is its illumination of personal identity. Confessions of faith in Jesus' divinity are the highpoints of the Gospels: Peter professes, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God" (Mt. 16:16); the centurion at the foot of the cross concludes, "Truly, this man was the Son of God" (Mk. 15:39); St. John declares the purpose of his gospel to be "that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God" (Jn. 20:31).