Pope John Paul II devoted the first major teaching project of his pontificate -129 talks between 1979 and 1984 - to a biblical reflection on the meaning of the body, sex, and marital love. Termed "theology of the body," the pope's teaching provided a profoundly beautiful vision of human sexuality and what it means to be a man and woman.
Theology of the Body clarifies the profound interconnection between sex and the Christian mystery and paves the way not only for lasting renewal of marriage and the family, but enables everyone to rediscover "the meaning of the whole of existence, the meaning of life" (John Paul II).
Today, our world struggles with marital and sexual dilemmas: divorce, contraception, cohabitation, pornography, abortion, in vitro fertilization. The marriage amendment debate of the past year shows the level of misunderstanding regarding God's plan for sexuality.
How do we confront these very real problems? How is the dignity of each individual person affected by the continued slide of sexual morale in our country? How are we called to be the light in the darkness?
George Weigel, autobiographer of John Paul II, recently wrote, "John Paul's portrait of sexual love as an icon of the interior life of God is one of the boldest reconfiguration of Catholic theology in centuries." It "has barely begun to shape the Church's theology, preaching, and religious education. When it does, it will compel a dramatic development of thinking about virtually every major theme in the Creed."
Others have likened it to the major epochs of Catholic theology - St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas - new ways of looking at the gospel message that are relevant to the world at that time. In our generation, the Holy Spirit has given us John Paul II and his incredible teachings on the body, sexuality, and greatest mysteries of life . . . the Theology of the Body.
Seminar in Madison
Over the next few months, a number of opportunities will be provided by the Diocese of Madison to explore and come to understand the Theology of the Body. It is hoped that these events will represent a watershed moment for the diocese, for within the content of the Theology of the Body is the very message of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
I invite you to attend a seminar titled "An Introduction to the Theology of the Body" presented by national speaker Damon Owens on Saturday, June 2 (see box at right for details). The seminar provides an overview of the topic and prepares the way for more in-depth study in the future.
This program is perfect for anyone that would like an introduction to the topic. It covers: what is the Theology of the Body and why it is important; creation and redemption of man and woman; the resurrection of the body and the heavenly marriage; the sacrament of marriage and the language of sexual love.
Young engaged couples preparing to enter a lifelong commitment to one another are in the greatest need of this wonderful new theology. "Marriage Preparation is one of the hardest ministries in the Church today because the culture has dominated so much of our perspectives on marriage and sexuality," explains theologian Christopher West. "As a result, the couples who come to us are very often in great need of formation."
It is clear the Diocese of Madison is facing this very dilemma. The diocese is proposing to renew its marriage preparation program with the Theology of the Body. God's Plan for Joy-Filled Marriage is a supplemental marriage preparation program prepared by West and a team of marriage preparation professions. The program is being embraced by dioceses and is having a profound effect on couples.
The diocese, in collaboration with Ascension Press, is sponsoring an extensive training weekend for couples and individuals interested in working with engaged couples preparing for marriage. The training will take place Friday through Sunday, June 22 through 24, at the Bishop O'Connor Center (see box, above right, for details).
People who work with youth are invited to learn how to present the Theology of the Body to teens on Saturday, June 23 (see box, above right, for details).
Next week: God's Plan for a Joy-Filled Marriage.
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MADISON -- The Catholic Daughters of the Americas (CDA) of Wisconsin held their biennial state convention at the Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center April 13 to 15.
Theme of the convention was "Be Not Afraid."
The Friday afternoon meeting opened with a prayer service entitled "CDA Living Waters." A member of each court present brought up a container of Easter Holy Water from their parish community and poured the water into a large bowl.
Susan Hicks, state second vice regent, Darlington, chairman of the convention, stated that "with the mixing of these waters we come together as one body of water: flowing together in prayer, goals, and sharing together life's experiences, ideas, and prayer."
A brief business meeting followed with State Regent Mary Robeck from Court Superior presiding. A slate of officers was accepted unanimously.
A memorial Mass for deceased members was held Friday evening with four court chaplains concelebrating. They included Fr. Lawrence Kieffer, Madison court; Fr. Randy Budnar, Darlington court; Fr. David Flanagan, Cuba City court; and Fr. Tom Coyle, Jefferson court.
As the name of each court was read, the regent or another court member approached the lectern and read the names of those members who had died during the past two years. They then lit a memorial candle for deceased members.
At the end of Mass, Ruth Busch, state secretary, Cuba City, asked the four court chaplains to come to the lectern. She then read to them a special poem by an unknown author entitled "The Beautiful Hands of a Priest."
Saturday began with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Raphael Fliss of the Diocese of Superior. Bishop Fliss is the CDA Wisconsin state chaplain.
Referring to the convention theme, Bishop Fliss advised the women to go ahead and volunteer to serve in the community and the church. He said it is a privilege to serve God and that He will always be there for each person.
The Saturday morning meeting began with a message from National CDA Secretary-Treasurer, Shirley Seyfried.
She emphasized the importance of obtaining new members by using the popular children's story, The Little Engine That Could, to illustrate that the Wisconsin courts can obtain new members if they keep trying and think positively.
Saturday afternoon Marcella Colbert addressed the convention. She spoke of "Dignity in Vocations of Women." Colbert is a young adult minister in the downtown Madison parishes.
She said that women should not deny their femininity. Men and women are created equal, yet they are different and compliment each other in many ways.
Colbert said there is a need to commit to evangelize young adults to become an integral part of the church. She encouraged the CDA members to get to know young people and pray for them. "It means a lot to know someone is praying for you," she said.
Speaker for the Saturday evening banquet was Marc Tuttle, communications director for Pro-Life Wisconsin. He suggested the need to keep focused and reach out to people in the media continuously. He also urged CDA members to speak to others and share their views about pro-life issues.
Sunday included recitation of a Living Rosary. Bishop Robert C. Morlino of the Diocese of Madison celebrated Mass at which the new state officers were installed.
Since it was Divine Mercy Sunday, Bishop Morlino talked about the fact that Christ won mercy and peace for us with his death and resurrection.
The bishop also lamented the "culture of cruelty and meanness" as exemplified by the recent remarks made by talk show host Don Imus. Bishop Morlino said he hopes this has been a "wake-up call" not only on the culture of cruelty, but also the culture of death, which he said is "far more harmful to womanhood and to motherhood than Don Imus' comments could ever be - as bad as they are."
Mary Robek, outgoing state regent from Superior, presented Bishop Morlino with a check for $2,000 for the seminarian education fund. All five Wisconsin dioceses raise money for this fund.
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MADISON -- Bishop Robert C. Morlino has appointed William D. Yallaly as Assistant to the Bishop and Associate Director of Communications for the Diocese of Madison.
Yallaly will work with Brent King, director of communications, in those communications areas which touch more directly on the bishop's ministry. King will also continue as executive assistant to the bishop focusing on those areas of the bishop's ministry which require him to be away from the office at times.
"William's knowledge of the church and his experience both in communications and as an assistant will no doubt prove very valuable to the Diocese of Madison," commented Bishop Morlino.
Most recently Yallaly served as editor of the Catholic News Agency (CNA), the English-language news service whose parent is ACI Prensa. He worked in the Denver, Colo., office of CNA.
Yallaly managed the daily flow of news; conducted interviews and researched stories for publication; communicated with leadership in various dioceses, Catholic conferences, and other news agencies; and guided CNA through a redesign of its Web site and updating of advertising capabilities.
In an interview, Yallaly noted that "ACI Prensa has surpassed the Vatican Web site as the most visited Catholic Web site in the world." It is available in Spanish and Portuguese.
Yallaly has also written articles for Our Sunday Visitor newspaper.
A native of Illinois (and an avid Illini fan), Yallaly grew up in the small town of Villa Grove located near Champaign. Yallaly is the oldest of four children with two brothers and a sister. "I have a new little godson," he noted. "It's good to be closer to home."
Prior to the CNA position, Yallaly served as a staff assistant to the president's office at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
He attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he became active in the Newman Center. He was a resident advisor and renovation supervisor at Newman Hall. "I learned a great deal about my faith at the Newman Center and decided to enter the seminary," said Yallaly.
Yallaly studied for two years as a seminarian at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he earned a Bachelor of Philosophy degree. He then studied for one year at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome before leaving the seminary.
"I am extremely excited to be here in the Diocese of Madison," he said. "Having known Bishop Morlino for a few years and other people in the diocese, I'm filled with a lot of joy to be working for the church in such a direct way, doing my small part to spread the Gospel."
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Get some Kleenex ready! That's my advice to those reading Patricia Dischler's book, Because I Loved You: A Birthmother's View of Open Adoption. Dischler's book definitely tugs at the heartstrings, but it is tears of joy that the reader will mostly experience in reading her poignant story.
The author now lives in Prairie du Sac with her husband, Steve, and their two daughters, Rachel and Amanda. She has operated a nationally accredited family child care business called Patty Cake Preschool for over 16 years.
Her book, however, tells the story of why she chose an open adoption arrangement for her son Joe in 1985. He is now an adult and is involved with both his adoptive parents' and birth mother's lives.
Dischler started writing her story as part of a Human Issues study at Edgewood College in Madison. She gives thanks to David Young, whose "praise gave me the confidence to take it further.
Kathleen Silber, a social worker and co-author of Dear Birthmother and Children of Open Adoption, also offered her support to Dischler in the early stages of her book.
Silber writes in the foreward to Dischler's book, "The veil of secrecy has been lifted from adoption. The result is an adoption experience that is healthier and more positive for all parties.
"In place of adoption, which was surrounded by secrecy and shame, there is openness, honesty, and communication. Today the vast majority of domestic infant adoptions are open ones."
Silber says Because I Loved You "provides an opportunity for a birthmother's positive story of adoption to be shared and for birthparents and others to gain understanding and hope from this experience."
Because I Loved You certainly lives up to the foreward. What I liked about the book is how the chapters are organized on two levels: the first part gives information and facts about the adoption process; the second part of each chapter tells Patricia Dischler's personal story.
Both parts are equally worthwhile. There is plenty of information on adoption for birthmothers, adoptive parents, and adoptees. I would say this is also excellent reading for any prospective parents of any kind.
But what grabbed me was Patricia Dischler's story. She became pregnant at 20 years of age after just one experience of sexual intercourse. Fortunately she grew up in a loving Catholic family. While her parents were shocked and disappointed by her pregnancy at first, they supported her throughout her experience.
Dischler also had a very positive experience with a Catholic Charities counselor, who helped her explore options, including adoption. Dischler selected the adoptive parents for her son, Joe. She kept in touch with them annually, getting pictures of her son.
When he was 12, Joe said he wanted to meet his "other mother." It was a joyful reunion. When Dischler asked why he wanted to meet her now, he said, "I just wanted to get to know you better." He added, "I told my dad that I could tell by your letters you loved me."
"I most certainly do, Joseph, with all my heart," said his mother.
Since that time, Joe has met his grandparents and other family members. Dischler attended his high school graduation and continues to keep in touch with her son and his adoptive parents.
For them, it has been a happy ending. Dischler believes open adoption has helped make the process much better.
"Adoptees are assured of their birthmother's love their entire lives, and the model of respect and understanding that the adoptive parents provide the child through their open arrangement with the birthmother lays a foundation of peace for the child regarding her status as an adoptee," she said. "My son has this sense of peace. I credit his adoptive parents for this."
For more information on the author and Because I loved You, visit www.PatriciaDischler.com, which includes information on ordering her book.
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