Speaker explores pope’s Theology of the Body

COLUMBIA — The song “Dive” was the appropriate motivator for Family Honor staff, presenters and interns as they prepared for an intensive daylong crash course on Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, Aug.2, at the Whitney Hotel.

Unpacking the Theology of the Body for the layperson is what speaker Katrina Zeno does best, and she did not disappoint the participants who attended the seminar as part of their ongoing professional training as family-based chastity educators.

“Because the concepts contained within the Theology of the Body are fundamental to living the faith as men and women made in the image and likeness of God, its study provides a solid background for our presenters who can see the bigger picture behind the age-appropriate contents we deliver through our skits and small group discussions,” said Family Honor curriculum writer, Mary Ann Fey, M.Ed., Ed.S , who is also the assistant principal at St. Joseph School in Columbia Brenda Cerkez, who is the executive director of Family Honor, believes these training opportunities are part of what makes Family Honor unique.

She said, “Those presenters who were able to attend Zeno’s talks will bring a renewed enthusiasm and expertise to our parent-child programs this coming year.” Zeno, co-founder of Women of the Third Millennium, an organization that promotes human dignity for women (and men), set the groundwork for her talks by giving an overview of the Theology of the Body that she defines as a study of “how the body reveals God.”

She divided Pope John Paul II’s 129 Wednesday audiences into four parts: humanity before and after original sin, life in heaven, and how to achieve heaven, redeemed by Christ.

She also provided definitions for special words or phrases the Holy Father uses that she called PT’s (“pope terms”), an essential tool for understanding this revolutionary theology. For example the pope speaks of the “nuptial meaning of the body,” which Zeno explains is a phrase that describes how men and women are “designed for union and communion through a sincere gift of self.”

“Men are not from Mars, and women are not from Venus. There is a deep, fundamental unity between man and woman because we come from the same body and share the same humanity,” said Zeno. The presenter has written extensively on the subject from the unique perspective of a single parent.

Teresa Shelley, a longtime Family Honor presenter, was particularly impressed with Zeno’s teaching style. Shelley felt that Zeno’s technique would appeal to a diverse audience because she uses language and examples that are easy to understand.

One particular useful analogy she used in her talk was the kite and string relating to freedom and license.

“A kite may want to get rid of the string so it can fly anywhere it wants but will eventually crash to the ground without the string. Love is the string that keeps the kite of freedom grounded in the divine design,” said Zeno.

She said that true freedom, which should always be in service of love, opposes the popular notion in today’s culture that says “I have a right to do whatever I want whenever I want.”

As a mother of a teenage son, Zeno takes advantage of the teachable moments that present themselves, such as the time they road past a provocative billboard advertising suntan lotion. She asked her son, “Does this billboard uphold the dignity of this woman?”

“The body reveals God through the Spirit of Christ permeating my spirit so that, as Jesus says in the Sermon of the Mount (Matt. 5), others may see the goodness of your acts and glorify your Father in heaven,” concluded Zeno.