It's Time to Discover and Rediscover the Teachings of St. John Paul II | Bill Maguire | CWR
No one comes even close to John Paul II in capturing the hearts and minds of young people with the beauty of the Church’s teaching on marriage and family
As we celebrate St. John Paul II’s first official feast day, it strikes me that a extraordinary thing about the extraordinary Synod on the Family was the near absence of any reference to the teaching of the man that Pope Francis declared to be the “Pope of the Family.” What might we extrapolate from this rather extraordinary oversight? Perhaps at next year’s Ordinary Synod on the Family — in the middle of which, we will celebrate his second feast day — the silence will be lifted.
Having worked in youth and young adult ministry for almost two decades, I am certain about this: no one comes even close to John Paul II in capturing the hearts and minds of young people with the beauty of the Church’s teaching on marriage and family. And no one inspires them with more enthusiasm to embrace and evangelize their peers with the Church’s teaching on chastity and the dignity of the human person.
This has been confirmed by my own experiences working with young people and many others who work with young people. All major youth and young adult conferences — e.g., Steubenville summer conferences, FOCUS conferences, the National Catholic Youth Conference, Theology on Tap programs — include at least one talk inspired by the Theology of the Body (TOB), many include several. Most successful youth groups and young adult ministries include TOB and Love and Responsibility as part of their curriculum.
It is the JPII Generation and those educated by them who are on the frontlines of youth and young adult ministry, battling for the Church’s teaching on marriage, family, chastity and pro-life issues. In fact, it is not an overstatement to say that everyone who fully embraces the Church’s teaching on these issues and is passionate about helping young people to embrace them considers John Paul II their go-to guy.
Further, he is not only their best resource, he is frequently cited as the most influential figure who inspired them to take up this kind of work in the first place. This includes, in a special way, the dynamically-orthodox young priests and young people who have answered the call to enter religious life in vibrant religious communities.
I offer here a brief reflection on just one concept of TOB that is particularly effective in piercing through the darkness of the culture of death that utterly surrounds—and threatens to engulf—our young people: Original Nakedness.