Catholic blog post title page

Man and Woman He Created Them…But Why?

Have you ever thought about why God created men and women? Not the “species”–as human beings–but men as men and women as women and ultimately how/why they were created to become one.

Yeah, me either!

“Men are from Mars, women are from Venus”…sure! We’ve heard the almost cliche explanations for a while. The purpose, though, is still a point of ignorance. Until today!

Let’s quickly go back to an important part in the last blog post:

God wants to marry us.

Crazy, right? And these claims come from the Bible! That’s not too hard to believe though…after all, the Bible begins and ends with marriages: Adam to Eve and Christ to the Church.

Today we come full circle: to answer our question, we have to look at the first marriage. Actually, we have to look at a specific element from the first marriage…one that might make us a little uncomfortable.

That element is nakedness. OR, more emphatic, nakedness without shame.

John Paul II says, “The innocent experience of nakedness is ‘precisely the key’ for understanding God’s original plan for human life. If we do not understand the meaning of nakedness without shame, we do not understand the meaning of our creation as male and female; we do not understand ourselves and the meaning of life.”

The first humans experienced this…they understood themselves and their purpose – naked and without shame. Why? Because the dignity of their persons was completely perfect; because they were created in God’s image – the image of perfect love. They knew no sin (lust, in particular) and were entirely free to be a gift to one another…their ultimate purpose.

They were unashamed…unafraid…to show their naked bodies because they didn’t feel objectified by one another. They weren’t threatened by the feeling (or reality!) that they were seen as objects for the other’s sexual pleasure. They were free to love and, as 1 John 4:18 says, “Perfect love casts out fear.”

Christopher West says it best: “This is why nakedness without shame is the key for understanding God’s plan for our lives–it reveals the original theology of our bodies and, through that, the truth of love (emphasis mine).” We were uniquely + individually created to represent God’s love…through the Spirit within us and the body given to us. (As we’ve learned in previous posts) this is why our bodies reflect God. Particularly: (1) His participation in an eternal exchange of love (the spousal analogy) and (2) His bodily sacrifice as a perfect gift of self. When they become “one flesh” man and woman (1) fulfill their purpose and (2) foreshadow the eternal union of Christ and His Church.  

We can only discover who we are by loving as God loves. THAT’S why God created men (as men) and women (as women).

What do these points make you think about our current cultures take on gender and sexuality? What does this reveal to you as a child of God…and did it result in a shift of your thinking about your life’s purpose?

We’d love to know!

As always, thank you for reading!

The FRP Team

Catholic blog post title page

An Intimate Invitation

Did you look it up?

Hosea 2:19 from last week…did you read it?

Our topic this week centers around this important verse! Here it is again:

“I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord.” Hosea 2:19

Scripture uses many images to describe God’s love/desire for us, but the “spousal analogy” is arguably the most pronounced…and maybe even most confusing one!

Drawing from the conclusions of theologians before him, Christopher West takes that analogy a step farther and makes a pretty profound statement: God wants to marry us.

Crazy, right? And these claims come from the Bible! That’s not too hard to believe though…after all, the Bible begins and ends with marriages: Adam to Eve and Christ to the Church. Patterned throughout the Bible–from bookend to bookend–you see numerous examples of God making His desires clear for us (members of His Church). Here are a few:

Song of Songs 4:9 (You saw that coming!)

“You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride; you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace.”

Isaiah 62:5

“For as a young man marries a virgin, so shall your Maker marry you; and as the bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.”

Ephesians 5:21-32

“‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the church.”

Revelation 19:7

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.”

The outline these passages provide reveals an eternal plan that becomes obvious when we see the sacrifice Christ made on the cross. God himself became flesh…not just to forgive our sins (as if that wasn’t enough!), but to become “one flesh” with US, so that we could share in His eternal exchange of love.

An earthly “spousal relationship” is given to us by God to foreshadow the relationship He desires to have with each of us…for eternity!  Union with God is the ultimate relationship…the ultimate GOAL; the union of man and woman in marriage reflects and prepares us for that reality.

This is definitely a unique way of looking at our relationship with God. John Paul II recognized that “the analogy of human spousal love cannot offer an adequate and complete understanding of [the divine mystery] (emphasis mine).” This analogy simply allows us a unique glimpse into this incredibly divine mystery.

What do YOU think of spending an eternity in perfect love?  And if you pursued that now…what would it look like?

In the meantime, stay tuned for next week’s post about how/why God created men and women.

Thanks for reading!

The FRP Team

Catholic blog post title page

A Four Letter Word for Love

We’re a sign of a divine mystery. But what does that mean?

It is the mystery of Trinitarian Life and Love – of God’s eternal Communion. “God Himself is an eternal exchange of love: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and He has destined us to share in that exchange (CCC221).”

This concept will only temporarily be a mystery to us. God desires we share in this mystery–this exchange of love–with Him forever.

We know by this point that we are created by Love for love (in God’s image), but what might strike you is the TYPE of love God intended for us.

By nature we were created with a deep desire to draw near to God. “Eros” is the desire in us that seeks God. If you follow the Greek word out a little more, you’ll no doubt find that “Eros” is the origin of the word “erotic.”

We were created for erotic love.

theology of the body love

Erotic love (as intended), like much in our culture today, has been completely defiled. And like many spiritual things, its original intention isn’t properly understood, resulting in rejection and a sense of disgrace… leading its new meaning to be rejected and disgraced by the very people God created it for: the Church. This is a mindset we must reverse.

In the confusion, we find ourselves at a crossroads: either (1) by a pure act of the will we become stoic by repressing our desires, condemning them as “bad” or unholy…OR… (2) once we realize that “starving ourselves” of our deepest desire is not possible, we give up the fight by “consuming” immediate gratification — in whatever form it takes.

We can’t deny our nature–the way God created us in HIS image–by denying these desires. But neither of the above options is the “abundant life” Jesus spoke of in John 10:10.

Thankfully, both Scripture and the Church offer direction along life’s crossroads!

“The moment the Word became flesh, he eliminated the unbridgeable distance between the finite and infinite…in order to draw us to the heights of satisfaction through communion with His divine being (Benedict XVI, Aug 10, 2012).

Our erotic desire–the deep longing for being taken outside of yourself, completely encompassed by Love–is NOT unattainable.

It becomes clear through Scriptures like Hosea 2:19 that God destined us to share in the exchange of this kind of love. (I challenge you to look it up!)

THIS is what makes the Gospel “good news:” there is a Love, freely offered to us, that quenches our deepest longing. Honestly, accepting and submitting to the Love of God is what we were actually created for.  We were Made for More…

Throughout this next week, we encourage you to begin looking for obvious ways that you find yourself desiring God. In what areas of your life do you see yourself longing for Love that only He can provide?

Feel free to comment below or message us about what you realize! We’d love to hear from you!

As always, thank you for reading!

The FRP Team

Catholic blog post title page

Why the Body?

“God has constructed the body so as to give greater honor to those parts [considered] without honor.” 1 Corinthians 12:24

Many spiritually minded people are uncomfortable with talk of their bodies. Even a perfectly crafted sermon can cause the faithful to become uneasy when the homilist begins to talk of “the flesh.” Many church-goers give much more emphasis to the “soul” part of “body and soul.” Some might even say that the soul is, in a sense, trapped in the body.

This is not biblical! God gives significant emphasis to both the body and the soul. So much so that He (the Word) became flesh and dwelt among us.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John 1:14

God Himself took on a human body!

And what’s more, we are created in God’s image! The beauty of creation reflects the infinite beauty of the Creator. Sunsets and mountains don’t reflect the beauty of the Creator in the same way as that which was made in His image–the human body.

For that reason, we must open our body as an indwelling of the Spirit so that our mortal bodies can have divine life. What greater meaning does life have than that? And it starts with our bodies!

The Body and the Sacraments

The Sacraments are the physical means through which we encounter God’s spiritual treasure.

The Catholic faith is a very sensual religion–our most intimate encounters with God are through our bodily senses: bathing the body with water (baptism); anointing the body with oil (baptism, confirmation, holy orders, anointing the sick); eating and drinking the Body and Blood of Christ (the Eucharist); the laying on of hands (holy orders, anointing of the sick); confessing with our lips to a priest (penance); and the unbreakable joining of man and woman in their union as one flesh (marriage).

Through our holy participation in the Sacraments, our body becomes a sign that makes visible the invisible. We are physical embodiments of the love of the God we cannot see.

To ask questions about the significance and meaning of the body can lead us on a much deeper journey into the significance and meaning of LIFE. (Hence, the purpose of this study!)

One of those questions, for example, is the mystery of sexual difference: the difference between men and women’s bodies and the role that plays in the divine story.

But stay tuned! That’s coming next week!

In the meantime, let us know…have you ever conceived of your body as a “shell” in which your “spiritual self” dwells? Why are spiritually minded people so often uncomfortable with their bodies?

Thank you for reading! 

The FRP Team

Catholic blog post title page

A BIG Announcement and a Short Introduction

We’ve been hinting about our big announcement for a while now, but here it is… OFFICIALLY! Family Renewal Project is SO excited to announce that, in partnership with several parishes of the Archdiocese, WE ARE BRINGING CHRISTOPHER WEST TO LOUISVILLE!!!

Christopher and his team (Cor Project) have created a multi-media event called “Made For More.”

Check out the event’s trailer here:

September 18th will definitely be a night to be remembered!

BUT THERE’S MORE!

In an effort to prepare hearts and minds for this event, we are currently hosting a pre-formation series focused on the beautiful teachings of Theology of the Body (TOB).

If you’re not participating in this training series, you’re in the right place! We’ll be following along with the group each week creating posts from the content in their sessions. Although we’ll miss the awesome discussions the Made for More Group will surely have, we encourage you to leave your questions and comments below (or message us!). We want to hear from YOU!

Made For More Training Group

AND, if after a few weeks of reading, you determine you would like to participate in the next training, let us know! We’ll add you to our mailing list offering a chance to join us! (And spread the word…we are planning to have a series with childcare!)

What is Theology of the Body?

If you’re new to Theology of the Body or just want a quick refresher, here is a basic introduction to what it’s all about. I emphasize “basic” because, as you’ll soon find out, the message of TOB is incredibly deep!

Actually, the underlying truth is simple, but it is so far from what our culture believes today, it seems radical! Take my word for it: you’re in for an exciting journey of discovery!

“Theology of the Body” is the working title Saint John Paul II gave to the first major teaching project of his pontificate. From September 1979 to November 1984, JPII presented his catechesis in the form of 129 “Wednesday Audiences.” His teachings present an in-depth reflection on “the very meaning of human existence” by providing biblical answers to two universal questions:

  1. What does it mean to be human?
  2. How do I live my life in a way that brings true happiness?

He often uses the example of spousal love between Christ and the Church to communicate God’s plan for each and every person. (Fun fact: that’s where our tagline “Discover Your Story” comes from! We hope that, through Theology of the Body, FRP can help others experience what they were made for: authentic love and responsibility.)

As we continue this series, we recommend going a little deeper with an incredible resource we think EVERYONE should read: Theology of the Body for Beginners by Christopher West.

Comment below to let us know what you think about the big announcement and what you’re looking forward to learning!

We look forward to connecting with you soon!

The FRP Team


Catholic blog post title page

The Philosopher’s Underground: A 4-Part Series

Discover Your Story with FRP’s latest series: The Philosopher’s Underground!

While philosophy may seem ethereal and unnecessary, it really is the opposite. Philosophy is the pursuit of wisdom, of understanding. It seeks truth and meaning.  What’s more interesting than that?

Consider philosophy the foundation on which our understanding of our present world was built (think: underground!). The Philosopher’s Underground series will provide practical ways to understand and apply key philosophical principles…because we can’t understand our faith, our world, or even who we are meant to be without them!

The Philosopher’s Underground aims to engage young adults (20’s and 30’s) asking the deeper questions about life and it’s meaning. Our hope is that the content in this series will empower everyone who attends to live a more intentional life. How will you live the story you were made for?

The first session starts THIS Wednesday, November 14. It will be in conjunction with Louisville Young Catholic’s monthly Pub Night from 7:00-8:30pm at Saints Bar in St. Matthews.

All other sessions will be at the Patterson Education Center/Museum across from the Cathedral of the Assumption in downtown Louisville (also from 7:00-8:30pm). Mark the rest of the dates on your calendar HERE!

Check out our event page on Facebook for more information and updates as this series kicks off!

Interested in attending, but still have a few questions? Shoot us a message: info@familyrenewalproject.com.
We hope to see you there! 
Catholic blog post title page

[Repost] The Heart of the Gospel: A Divine Marriage Proposal

Blog (re)posted with permission by author Claire Hendee, originally published 10/25/16 on tobinstitute.org.

The Heart of the Gospel: A Divine Marriage Proposal

At the beginning of July, having just finished five weeks of evangelization training as a FOCUS missionary, I was given the opportunity to take the “Head and Heart Immersion” Theology of the Body course in Ave Maria, Florida. My previous experience with TOB had been minimal — a few classes in high school — but I believed that a better understanding of TOB would help with leading Bible studies and mentoring women on campus, not to mention it would more thoroughly prepare me for my vocation. What I did not expect was the impact it would have on one of our most basic evangelization strategies: sharing the gospel.

As a missionary, I am asked to share the gospel all the time. Whether it’s with a diagram, a little book, my testimony or a passage from Scripture, there are countless ways to unfold the good news of the Incarnation and to give another person the opportunity to accept and choose the love of Jesus Christ, maybe for the first time.

The gospel itself has five basic points:

  1. We were created for relationship with and adoption by God the Father;
  2. We fell in sin and broke this relationship;
  3. God sent His Son Jesus to die for our sins and restore this relationship;
  4. We now have the choice to, through the Holy Spirit, accept this free gift or reject it;
  5. And we do so through active participation in the sacramental life of the Church.

Often when this message is shared, the emphasis can unfortunately rest on our sinfulness: We did not deserve Jesus’s death for us, but He chose to do it anyways. And in my experience, the well-intentioned proclamation of this good news ends up inducing feelings of guilt and shame more than anything else: “Do you not realize what Jesus did for you? How could you say no to that?!

But that’s not the heart of the gospel.

As I encountered the Theology of the Body, the gospel was revealed in a whole new light. I began to understand that, in the beginning, the Trinity — an eternal exchange of love — made man to share in that love. Earthly marriage, the love of a father and mother spilling into the new life of a child, is meant to reflect the love of the Trinity and constantly point us back to the Love for which we were created. Celibacy reminds us that, ultimately, sex is not the end but a foreshadowing of the union we are to have with Christ for eternity.

Our purpose and destiny: eternal union with Christ in Heaven.

Jesus doesn’t want to guilt us into choosing Him. He doesn’t want to merely “be in relationship” with us — he wants to marry us (in a supernatural kind of way). He wants to have a union with us even deeper than that of husband and wife…and He gives us a taste of this in the Eucharist as He, the Bridegroom, lays down His life for the Bride, the Church, on what St. Augustine calls the “marriage bed of the Cross” (Sermon Suppositus, 120:3).

WHAT? Could it be more beautiful than that?

But what struck me most is that it’s not about our sinfulness. Jesus did not become man just to conquer sin: No, there was a reason He needed to conquer sin. Sin was the very thing that was keeping this eternal marriage from being realized. So desperately did Jesus want to marry us and spend eternity with us that He was willing to do ANYTHING — whatever it took, even laying down His life — to redeem our brokenness and turn it into an opportunity for life.

For me, sharing the gospel with a woman in my Bible study or a student I meet on campus will never be the same. The heart of the gospel is that our God wants to marry us, and He was and is willing to do whatever it takes to give us the chance to accept this proposal. Though human marriage is only an icon of this eternal marriage for which we are destined, we can begin to grasp the great significance and beauty of eternal marriage through the lens of earthly marriage. At the end of the day, it’s not about our sin; it’s about the eternal marriage we were made for in the beginning.

Of course we need to take sin seriously and be aware of the impact of our choices on our souls. But we need not let shame be the driving force in our spiritual lives. If we understand that sin is what is getting in the way of this eternal marriage, we can more readily reject the false proposals from the prince of darkness and accept the loving marriage proposal of the eternal Bridegroom. And not only that, but we’ll be better equipped to share the truth of God’s beautiful love for us with others and give them the opportunity to choose it, too.

Now, when I share the gospel on campus, I realize that I’m inviting people into the marriage they were made for — the marriage for which their hearts are so desperately longing and aching. Sharing this truth with others isn’t just for FOCUS missionaries. It’s for all of us.

About the Author: A native of Knoxville, TN, Claire is a theology teacher at Bethlehem High School in Bardstown and a former missionary with FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students). She currently lives in Elizabethtown, KY and is awaiting marriage in December to her fiancé, Andrew Collins. Claire loves coffee shops, good music, and Heart of the World by Hans Urs Von Balthasar.   

Catholic blog post title page

Wine & Wonder

We recently ended the very first session of our Women’s Book Group, Wine & Wonder.

Catholic Women's Book Club Louisville KY

Led by Aileen Delgado, the ladies met every other Tuesday night to discuss “The Authority of Women in the Catholic Church,” by Monica Miller. We were thrilled with the attendance and discussion! 

If you haven’t read the book, expect (1) to explore how women “exemplify the reality of the Church in relation to Christ and the ministerial priesthood*” and (2) a theological response to modern feminism and claims of gender irrelevance.

Of course, we recommend this book to every lady, starting as early as senior year of high school or freshman year of college. “I feel that it would be good for young women to learn about their feminine authority in the Catholic church early, but I also feel for women who are older it is never too late for them to learn and share that knowledge with others,” Aileen says.

“This book presents amazing view points that if we take the time to ponder on them, we could grow a little deeper in our faith.” Our prayer is that FRP can provide a space–through all of our programming– for men and women to grow deeper in their faith. All books chosen for our discussion groups will reflect this mission!

Wine & Wonder is a great way to get connected with women in your faith community. Regardless of which Parish you attend, we hope you’ll join us for our next session in the fall.

And even if reading isn’t your thing, stay up to date with all our events by subscribing to our email list (here)or by following us on Facebook and Instagram.

Have a suggestion for our next book? Let us know! We’ll bring the wine!

– Haley

 

*Source

Catholic blog post title page

An Apostolate for the Church and the Culture

I am pleased to offer a few thoughts on the importance of Family Renewal Project as an apostolate for the Church and for the culture that we find ourselves surrounded by if not battling against its errors born of secularism and individualism. I have been blessed to be a part of Family Renewal Project since its beginning and serve as its chaplain. It is to be noted that I am composing my thoughts on the 50th anniversary of one of the most profound if not prophetic teachings to be penned by a Pope in the 20th Century. While his predications may have been prophetic, Blessed Paul VI taught an eternal truth about what the Church knows and believes to be revealed by God. Cardinal DiNardo, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released the following statement this morning, “Fifty years ago, today, Blessed Paul VI issued the Encyclical Humanae Vitae. In it, he reaffirmed the beautiful truth that a husband and wife are called to give themselves completely to each other. Marriage reflects the love of God, which is faithful, generous, and life-giving. Through their vocation, spouses cooperate with God by being open to new human life.” The Cardinal’s words could have easily been lifted from the foundational beliefs forming the mission of Family Renewal Project. [Cardinal DiNardo’s entire statement is linked HERE.]

To understand the significance of any apostolate in the Church today including Family Renewal Project, it is helpful to define the mission of an apostolate. The name itself is revealing as its root is “apostle.” The work of an apostle – not only of the first followers of Christ but of all the faithful who carry on the original mission entrusted by Jesus Christ to the Twelve – to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). The apostolate belongs essentially to the order of grace. Its purpose is not temporal welfare, however noble, but to bring people to the knowledge and love of Christ and, through obedience to His teaching, help them attain life everlasting. To this end, the mission of Family Renewal Project is to rely on the order of grace that gives us access to God’s power through the work of the Holy Spirit. If it is truly of God and relies on His help along with the powerful intercessors in Heaven such as Saint John Paul II, many disciples will be made and will live the truth in freedom by the success of this apostolate.

In his “theology of the body,” based on discourses at his weekly general audiences during the first five years of his papacy, Saint John Paul II examined the first three books of Genesis to recommunicate a fundamental truth the Church has defended across the centuries — the inalienable dignity of the human person, the imago Dei [image of God], who is called to communion through his physical body. He takes us back to Genesis, encouraging us to see creation through the lens of God the Father and His eyes gazing upon the beauty of His image made visible in man and woman. Family renewal as an apostolate is a response to an “upside-down world” looking at the human person through the lens of selfishness that condemns sacrifice and belittles chastity, which leads to empty and vacant souls with no longing for eternal life. The doubts and emptiness are intimately and intrinsically connected to the culture’s view of sex, marriage, and procreation. The evidence of this truth is impossible to ignore: the rapid decline in marriage and fertility rates, matched by the promotion of same-sex “marriage” and the more recent campaign to separate gender identity from biological sex. Buffeted by these powerful secular currents, based on a relativized and individualistic conception of sexuality, Catholics are increasingly tempted to devise their own system of sexual ethics.

Instead of being concerned with what is really true (what God has revealed) there is a tendency to find comfort and solace in the expectation that no matter what we do, everything will turn out okay, and no one seems to get hurt in the misguided choices and decisions that are rightfully mine to make. Responsibility leading to freedom corrects this anthropology. Family Renewal Project serves as a corrective in today’s secular culture – not unlike the Twelve did in the 1st Century culture.

When Catholics – and all men and women – reverence the gift of life by living out their sexuality within marriage with an openness to the possibility of life — even at those times when this proves very challenging — they are affirming the goodness of creation and serving as God’s collaborators. Catholics may dismiss the Church’s ban on contraception as an arbitrary rule but what the Church teaches about the family, marriage, and sexuality tells us about who we are and what our communion with God should be in this life in preparation for the next.

As a member of the Family Renewal Project team – an apostolate for the Church and the Culture – please join us and pray for us so that all who are drawn to salvation in Christ will remember every day, “And He looked upon all He had made and saw that it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31)

 

– Very Rev. Martin A. Linebach

 

Catholic blog post title page

Welcome to FRP!

Thank you for reading the inaugural blog post on our brand new website! Things are hoppin’ around FRP headquarters and we are so excited to share some of those happenings with you! First I want to share a few things we’ve done SO FAR this year before going into all the things we’re looking forward to.

– This spring we created and completed an FRP original study for high school girls called The Pursuit.

Here are co-leaders, Haley and Monica, working on content.

Picture of Catholic Group Leaders

Visit our webpage to learn more about The Pursuit and how you can get involved!

– Wine and Wonder, our Women’s Book Club, recently ended, but  you can read all about it in a blog post HERE!

– A few weeks ago we were fortunate to be the guest speaker for  Louisville Young Catholics’ monthly pub night. We had a GREAT turnout, with even more collaborative efforts to look forward to. Be sure to follow them on Facebook…they host great events for Young Catholic Adults!

Young Catholics Group in Louisville

All of this has been inspiring new events and we’ve been doing a lot of planning lately. In the next few months, you can expect:

  • Movie Series + Discussions
  • Fall Wine and Wonder session
  • Catholic Young Mom’s Book Study
  • Natural Family Planning (NFP) Support Group
  • Catholic High School Guy’s and Girl’s Groups
  • TOB Series for Catholic Couples
  • Catholic Young Adults Series + Events
  • Louisville Young Catholics Collaboration

All of our programming is centered around Theology of the Body (TOB) and its mission to help us live and love more authentically.

Theology of the Body cover page Louisville

We have PLENTY of resources we’ll be sharing for those interested in learning more about TOB…whether that’s through books or one of our upcoming events.

So take a look around! Meet the team, look for Upcoming Events and browse around our Resources page for some of our favorite books and videos.

Are you signed up to receive periodic updates from us? If not, you can do that HERE!

In addition to our website, you can now find us on Facebook and Instagram…so give us a follow! (We’ll be doing a DRAWING for all our new followers that you don’t want to miss out on.)

Thank you for your support of FRP!

God Bless!