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The Sacrament

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. 

Ephesians 5:31-32

Marriage is obviously the mystery Paul refers to in this verse and proves how intentional God was when he patterned marriage after the relationship between his Son and the Church. 

But how exactly?

We were uniquely + individually created to represent God’s love…through the Spirit within us and the body given to us. This is why our bodies—individually as male and female AND through the union of the two—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.  

Paul continues…

“[Therefore] be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…”

Ephesians 5:21-25 

In Ephesians, the spousal analogy takes on another dimension: the wife is a symbol of the Church and the husband is a symbol of Christ. We can clearly see that this biblical calling of a wife’s submission to her husband isn’t blind passivity or weakness. God intended it to be unabashed love–much like He offers us. 

And the man, taking on Christ’s persona, should not take his wife’s submission in a self-serving manner. For Christ came not to be served, but to serve—to lay down his life for His Bride. 

This holy, sacrificial love is what John Paul II calls, “The Sacrament.” Marriage, like every other sacrament, has both a divine and human dimension. We’ll look at the divine dimension now. The Sacrament of Marriage, right from the beginning, “prepared the way for God’s wedding himself to US in ‘one flesh’.” In the beginning, God’s mystery became visible through mans union with woman. At the end of time—at the eternal “Supper of the Lamb”— the mystery becomes visible through Christ’s union with the Church. 

These two signs form one great sacrament (The Sacrament). The great mystery comes full circle…in that we see the purpose of our creation. Not just as man and woman, but in the relationship between God + mankind and it’s being brought to fulfillment through Christ.

Christopher West poses a great question: If the union of spouses in “one flesh” truly reveals Christ love for the church, why, then, are we so prone to think of sexual union as something unholy and defiling? How can we reclaim a true sense of the holiness of sexual union in God’s plan? 

Let us know below! We’d love to hear your thoughts! 

As always, thanks for reading! 

The FRP Team

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What happens to your body…

If you type the words “what happens to your” in the Google search bar, the second result is “…to your body when you die.” Seems to be a pretty intriguing question to most people!

1 Corinthians 15:44 says: 

They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.

After all God has to say about the body’s significance, did you think he’d leave it out after death? 

According to that verse in 1 Corinthians, our “heavenly” bodies will be significantly different from our earthly bodies.

How? 

“The powers of the spirit (the Holy Spirit—spiritual and divine) will permeate the energies of the body” (TOB 67:1).

Why?

The spiritualization and the divinization of our body is how we will participate in the “divine communion” God intended for us. This is promised to us from the beginning when we—as man and woman—are created in God’s image. We image God’s eternal exchange of love on earth as He does in Heaven: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

This is the communion God foreshadows for us in our earthly marriages (the union of one flesh). However, the “union of the sexes” as we know it now will give way to an infinitely greater union: the union of Christ and the Church.  

Because of this, we must remember our earthly marriages are…as Christopher West puts it…a glimmer…or an icon…of something infinitely greater. 

That is what we can expect after the resurrection of our earthly body. That is why we exist! 

As Pope John Paul II so eloquently put it, “All people—regardless of their vocation—are called to prepare and perfect themselves for eternal union with God.” 

What does eternal union with God look like? 

Perfect love. 

An end to all suffering. 

Ecstatic, never-ending happiness. 

Perfect justice. 

Healing of all wounds. 

Ending of all sadness and despair. 

What great hope we have in these things! So prepare yourself emphatically. Pray for these things unceasingly. 

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

If you’d like to learn more about what God has to say regarding the rising/resurrection of our bodies, keep reading! 

(Continued: 1 Corinthians 15:45-57)

“The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.” But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit. What comes first is the natural body, then the spiritual body comes later. Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. Earthly people are like the earthly man, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man. Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man.

What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever.

But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.

Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:

‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’

For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Thanks for reading! 

The FRP Team 

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Now Serving…

We’ve learned that eros—the longing—inside of us for Love was an intended part of our makeup. God created us in His image and, because of His communion of love in accordance with the Trinity, we are made for Love.

At the same time, he continuously warns us to guard our hearts from the perversion of Love:  lurking lust and the sin of adultery. 

“You have heard it said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28

Sounds pretty clear cut, right? But don’t misunderstand His point! Although we must guard our hearts from lust, Christ encourages us NOT to suppress our desires for Love…instead, he asks that we purify our hearts towards a holy desire.

The process of purification is not a strict set of standards. Christ does not want to impose laws on us… he wants to transform our hearts to “free us from the law” (Galations 5:18) and help our “eros” reach it’s true height, according to the Creator’s original plan.

(Theology of the Body is not only an invitation, but a “road map” to understanding what this means for each of us.)

As we’ve learned, our sexuality is a major part of God’s plan for humanity. As followers of Christ, we must mature and learn to distinguish between (1) what composes the riches of sexuality/sexual attraction and (2) what compels lust. This requires what God continuously calls us to perfect: our self control. 

To grow in purity, we must train our hearts and minds to control our “passions.” It’s an act of the will. 

Christopher West uses the example of exercising a muscle. The more one sacrifices bad habits and devotes themselves to training, the stronger that muscle becomes. 

However, he rightly notes that only half the “training” comes from our own will. We MUST surrender our struggles to grace and let Christ give our desires a new, pure form. Only He can give us the power to love in God’s image.

It is NOT an easy process!

JPII writes, “Lust is not always plain and obvious; sometimes it’s concealed, so that it passes itself off as ‘love’… Does this mean we should distrust the human heart? No! We must remain in control of it.”

Sometimes lust looks a lot like love. Sometimes, it looks a lot like “fast food.” As we’ve mentioned in a previous post, Christians often feel our only two options are fast food or “starvation.”

From “A Four Letter Word for 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. —> Can also be known as “fast food” love.  

Enter: Jesus. 

“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.’” Matthew 16:24

A process like TAKING UP OUR CROSS (in this case, controlling our *given* desires) is not.going.to.be.easy. 

Christopher West describes it as “emotionally and physically wrenching at times.” 

Dying to lust—letting the Lord crucify impurity—is a birth of authentic love and a life as God intended it. 

However! We know that God has prepared a banquet (an everlasting wedding feast, actually—see Revelation 19:7) for those who follow Him. So there’s no such thing as “starving ourselves” and fast food can be a thing of the past! 

We pray that you’ll find peace and strength if you surrender your burdens to the Lord today. We can testify that you’ll actually lose nothing and gain everything (even though it feels like losing a lot of the time!). 

Want more Theology of the Body? 

We’re announcing a new introductory series in JUNE! Stay tuned for more information next week. 

Thank you for reading! 

The FRP Team

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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


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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!