PAWLEYS ISLAND—Pope St. John Paul II showed the world a transforming vision of God’s plan for the family through his theology of the body teachings, and Pope Francis expanded on it in his recent encyclical “The Joy of Love.”
Families, couples and youth can learn more about that vision and what it means to today’s culture at “Living the Joy of Love,” a conference set for July 16 at Precious Blood of Christ Church.
The featured speaker will be Catholic author Christopher West, founder of The Cor Project, a global outreach group dedicated to sharing the message of theology of the body.
West said his main purpose for the event is to help people understand God’s true plan for families in light of a culture where traditional values on gender, marriage and relationships are under attack every day.
In an interview, West said the theology of the body’s message is more important than ever because it offers a clear look at the special gifts men and women bring to a relationship, and the roles each of them play in carrying out God’s plan.
By helping men and women learn the roles they play in a loving, unselfish relationship, the theology can help fight against the culture’s pattern of tearing down traditional gender and family roles, West said.
He added that Pope Francis’ April encyclical reinforces the teachings of theology of the body and urges the faithful to share its messages with mercy and understanding.
“When I read this document, it made my heart sing,” West said. “I wish the Church and the world could open its heart to it. ‘The Joy of Love’ is a healing balm for what ails our broken, wounded relationships and our broken, wounded hearts.”
West cited what he considers one of the most important quotes from the encyclical, in which Pope Francis says physical love between a man and a woman is an indispensable part of a marriage: “It must be seen as a gift from God that enriches the relationship of the spouses. As a passion sublimated by a love respectful of the dignity of the other, it becomes a pure, unadulterated affirmation revealing the marvels of which the human heart is capable.”
“Sexuality, in the true Christian sense, makes no sense apart from the call to love as God loves,” West said. “All of this comes together in Jesus Christ, who unites the physical and spiritual in His own body. Christ came into the world not to condemn us, but to bring healing and mercy. He came to redirect our desires toward the infinite, and that will beautifully transform all of our relationships, especially in marriages and families.”
The conference will also include sessions for middle and high school students led by Marcus Guevera of Thirstingfor truth.com, an organization dedicated to helping teens live chaste and authentically Catholic lives. Guevara, who is based in Washington, D.C., said he plans to offer his testimony about how he went from living a promiscuous lifestyle during his college years to a full and moral life once he met the woman who would become his wife.
“I want to talk to teens about the things everybody struggles with — sin, peer pressure, how to understand what the church teaches and why and how to live that teaching when the rest of society seems to be telling us it’s wrong,” Guevara said. “My goal is to show them that there are real young people living chaste lifestyles and there is a real joy about it. I also want them to understand the bigger picture of relationships, the greater meaning and greater purpose that God has planned for them.”
“Living the Joy of Love” will take place 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 16 at Precious Blood of Christ Church, 1633 Waverly Road on Pawleys Island. Registration is $20 for individuals, $30 for couples and $50 for a family.
For more information and to register, visit sccatholic.org/living-joy-love. The event is sponsored by the Office of Family Life and Precious Blood of Christ Church.