In the wake of the sexual revolution, St. Pope John Paul II presented us with the first major teaching of his pontificate in what came to be known as the Theology of the Body (TOB). In these teachings, the Pope meditated on the “Great Mystery” of the union of man and woman, proclaiming and referring us to the eternal union of Christ and His Church, answering questions each of us asks: Who am I? Why am I here and how can I be happy?
Theology of the Body presents a “fresh view” of God’s love, leading to a deeper awareness of human dignity, identity, and purpose. The Pope’s vision was that TOB would be the healing salve bringing wholeness and restoration to a broken and confused culture through a profound understanding of the beauty and dignity of the human person in our creations as male and female.
God wants us to know Him through our humanity: our relationships, our sexuality, our joys and our struggles. TOB, accompanied with Scripture and Catholic teaching and tradition, unveils the truth that our bodies reveal the deepest mysteries of God and humanity. We are thus instilled with confidence in the ability to live our masculinity and femininity as a gift to the world according to God’s divine plan. TOB is a most precious gift to the Church and to the world.
Below we present to our readers a devotion that has become very popular. It includes praying the Rosary accompanied with meditations written from a TOB point of view. In his Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae (2002), Pope St. John Paul II stated,
“The Rosary of the Virgin Mary… is a prayer loved by countless Saints and encouraged by the Magisterium. Simple yet profound, it still remains, at the dawn of this third millennium, a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness…
“Though clearly Marian in character, the Rosary is at heart a Christocentric prayer. In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety, of which it can be said to be a compendium…
“With the Rosary, the Christian people sit at the school of Mary and are led to contemplate the beauty of the face of Christ and to experience the depths of His love. Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer.” —AMJ
Many who are familiar with Theology of the Body (TOB) know that St. John Paul II identified the problem with the modern world as a fundamental lack of understanding of the meaning and purpose of the human person. Said differently, if we don’t know who we are and why we’re here, we’re going to have a difficult time reaching our true destination. To fill that gap and thus open up the mystery of man, the Holy Father wrote Theology of the Body and delivered it in the form of Wednesday audience addresses from 1979-1984.
Less well-documented is St. John Paul II’s belief in the value of the Rosary to more deeply explore these same truths. In his Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, Pope St. John Paul II wrote about the anthropological significance of the Rosary. He said, “Each mystery of the Rosary, carefully meditated, sheds light on the mystery of man.” Hence, we can perceive the mutual effect that the Rosary and TOB might have in aiding our understanding of the human person. This is what fueled a project to bring these two devotions together in the form of Theology of the Body-themed Rosary meditations.
Many readers here already have a devotion to the Rosary. Our Lady of Fatima, who identified herself as Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, asked us to pray the Rosary every day. Since the Rosary is a powerful spiritual weapon through which countless miracles and victories have been won, let’s explore further how the Rosary prayed through the lens of TOB could bring about miracles and victories for the dignity of the human person.
In an interview with Cardinal Caffarra, founding president of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family [Catholic University of America], Fatima visionary Sr. Lucia prophesized, “the final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be over marriage and family.” Sr. Lucia’s words seem to have been meant for us to read today. The attack on the triune-God has been gaining ground for years in the form of contraception, abortion, pornography, divorce, same-sex union and more recently under the guise of gender ideology.
The abuse scandal within the Church is the bitter fruit of this attack.
In Theology of the Body, St. John Paul II revealed to us how marriage and celibacy are two sides of a coin. Both involve sacramental vows; both demand a sincere and fruitful gift of self. Just as husbands and wives promise to love and be faithful to one another, priests and bishops promise to embody Christ’s love for His Bride, the Church. A world that so willfully supports a disordered view of God’s plan for man and woman in marriage must eventually find itself confronted with a crisis of spiritual leadership. In an article in The Catholic Thing, Dr. Carrie Gress writes: “When the fundamental piece of society – the family – has been shredded, it shouldn’t surprise us to see similar fallout in the Church. We expect bishops to know better, and to be holy and good, but they too are a product of our torn-asunder culture.”
We must help the world and each other to reclaim our identity and dignity as sons and daughters of God and embrace His loving plan for us. This conviction inspired the creation of the TOB Rosary project (For more info go to: https://www.tobrosary.com).
As we continue to defend truth in the battle for marriage and family let us remember the words that St. John Paul II so boldly proclaimed: “Be not afraid.” We have been given the tools to win and have good reason to be filled with hope. Scripture promises us that in the end the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church; Mary promises us that in the end her Immaculate Heart will triumph. So, let us unite and beg the intercession of Pope St. John Paul II. Let us place ourselves under the loving guidance and protection of our Blessed Mother, trusting confidently in her promise.
Reprinted from: https://tobinstitute.org/the-rosary-and-the-theology-of-the-body/ with kind permission of the author, Debbie Staresinic, Catholic speaker, author, and founder of TOB Rosary.
This beautifully presented book offers a deeper theological perspective on TOB. The theme of God’s
spousal love is central, echoing the love story of the Bible: the profound truth that God wants to marry us.
This little book has as its goal to help people of all ages cultivate a daily habit of praying the Rosary. Its decade-a-day format demands less than five minutes, making it a practical tool for busy lifestyles and busy school days. One-line meditations following each Hail Mary employ scriptural stories of Jesus and Mary to illuminate the meaning and purpose of the human person.
Each book offers rich meditation on the mysteries of the rosary [with beautiful full-color images to help in our meditation], while contemplating more deeply the truths of Theology of the Body and the mystery of man.
To order either/both of these books please contact: www.tobrosary.com, www.ruahwoodspress.com or www.tobinstitute.org