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Turn to Jesus (Article)

“Arise My Beloved…and Come”:
Consecrated women in North America take part in a retreat on the Theology of the Body

Under the watchful care of Our Lady of Guadalupe during the TOB course.

Jana Crea, a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi, was among a group of consecrated from North American participating in a weekend retreat on Blessed John Paul II’s Theology of the Body catechesis at the Queen of the Family Retreat Center in Oxford, Michigan from October 21 -23, 2011.  Below is her testimony about her experience.

Ongoing Formation

In addition to each member’s personal studies, each year, time is set aside for the consecrated women to delve more deeply into certain topics that are of interest for our personal and/or apostolic lives.  (We commonly refer to this as our “studies week.”)  In the past we have studied topics such as adolescent psychology, spiritual direction and prayer.  This year we had the grace of exploring John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.  After several consecrated members had positive experiences attending the Head and Heart Immersion Course at the Theology of the Body Institute in Pennsylvania, they recommended that all consecrated members have the opportunity to study it.   We had our opportunity this past month, and the consecrated women in Mexico will have their retreat in April next year.

Bill Donaghy, a certified speaker of the TOB Institute, was invited to present the course and facilitate
"Bill helped us to remember that the primary object of all our search, desire and attraction must be Christ."
discussion.  A regular presenter for the “Head and Heart Immersion Course,” he said he particularly geared this course to explaining how TOB relates to the celibate life.  He invited each one of us to apply it first to our own lives before trying to pass it on to others.  “Before you can give it, you have to live it,” he said.

What is the TOB?

During the weekend, Bill “unloaded” John Paul II’s teaching f or us.  “It is ancient and new.  It is Christianity reloaded.  It is further unpacking the Mystery of the Incarnation, and an introduction to being human,” he said.  He explained the catechesis using the following outline (called John Paul II’s “Adequate Anthropology”): 

• Original man
• Historical man (fallen and redeemed)
• Glorified man 

Bill spoke to us about how man is fulfilled when he lives out the “spousal” meaning of his body.  For a consecrated woman, this is lived out particularly in her celibacy by love of Christ and His Church.

Quoting the Papal preacher, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, Bill encouraged us in our vocation:  “His love does not subtract us necessarily from the call of creatures and in particular from the attraction of the other sex (this is part of
The consecrated women pose with Bill Donaghy at the retreat center in Oxford, Michigan.
our nature that he has created and does not wish to destroy),” he said. “He gives us, however, the strength to overcome these attractions with a much stronger attraction.”

The Divine Romance

Bill helped us to remember that the primary object of all our search, desire and attraction must be Christ.  Quoting Cantalamessa, he said:

“It is true that not even Christ is seen, but he exists,” he explained. “He is risen. He is alive.  He is close to us, more truly than the most enamored husband is close to his wife.  Here is the crucial point -- to think of Christ not as a person of the past, but as the risen and living Lord, with whom I can speak, who I can even kiss if I so wish, certain that my kiss does not end on the paper or on the wood of a crucifix, but on a face and on the lips of living flesh (even though spiritualized), happy to receive my kiss.” 

An Experiential Approach

In presenting the material, Bill took the philosophical approach of Phenomenology, leading each person to assimilate through her own experiences.  He would often initiate discussions allowing anyone to share insights or significant experiences for the enrichment of all present.  More than just informing us about what John Paul II taught in his Wednesday audiences, he invited us to make it a “lived experience” and gave us the forum to begin to apply it.

Bills’ new approach was an educational experience for everyone, helping us to see how the imprint of the Divine is found nearly everywhere.  This could be seen (and heard) through songs and videos he shared with us.  (For a taste of his engaging way of presenting, check out his blog “Twisted Mystics.”)  Many of us are almost as excited about applying his method of teaching as we are of sharing TOB.

Family Spirit
Speaking for all the consecrated women attending, I can say we all enjoyed the time to delve deeply into the topic of TOB, but appreciated as well the moments of camaraderie and friendship together.  We had time not just to study, but to share, and enrich each other through our sharing.  We look forward to our next ‘get-together’ for our yearly Spiritual Exercises at Christmas break.  Please pray for us as we pray for you!



Related links

Official web site of the Vatican.
Legionaries of Christ
For Your Vocation
Mater Ecclesaie College

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