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Dawn Fitzpatrick


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Dawn Fitzpatrick is the Director of the Archdiocesan Respect Life Office.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Theology of the Body Retreat

It is Sunday morning, Father’s Day, as I sit down to write this. I reflect on the last 25 years in which I have been married to my husband, and nearly 23 years we have shared the parenthood of our two daughters. We have experienced a veritable roller-coaster ride in our relationship. Roller-coaster rides are exciting.  They have ups and downs. And, often, they are filled with many unexpected surprises.  This thrill-ride all began with a Sacramental gift of self, which we made to each other in 1991.

In our journey, we have learned so much more about ourselves and each other and how our relationship fits into God’s plan for us. When we started this, we thought we had a plan. As we traveled along, we came to realize that we are not living our plan, we are living God’s. In this understanding, we have also learned that our love for each other provides a glimpse of God’s love for us. God loves us so much that he created us male and female to love each other in a life-long commitment, which brings us closer to Him.

All of us are created out of God’s love and with His plan in mind. Some of us are not called to Marriage, although many of us are. God created us first to have a relationship with Him, and then to be in community with others to know Him better. In a deep study of Original Man, created by God, as is explained in the book of Genesis, we see that God created us out of love. He created us to love. We also learn that Original Man didn’t trust God, and sin entered into the world and separated us from God. Many heartaches and difficulties have entered the world due to that Original Sin.

However, God did a wonderful, incredible thing. He sent His Son to become human, live among us, and to teach us about love. In spite of sin being in the world, God loves us unconditionally. He loves us so much that he gives us the free-will to follow Him, or to follow our own path.  Jesus Christ was incarnated to teach us about who we are, what it truly means to be Human, and how much God loves us. Jesus modeled the perfect relationship for us by showing us that love is self-gift, not a feeling or a selfish desire to be fulfilled. However, we always have the choice to accept God’s self-gift, or to pass.  This is how much He loves us.

The fact that Jesus became human is such an important point. This shows us how holy it is to be a human person. It shows us how holy it is to have a body. The incarnation in itself is a sign of how good and holy our bodies are.  The body itself reveals God, as we see Jesus revealed God to us through Himself.

It is hard to imagine in today’s world that our bodies are holy. We are such a broken people who have lost touch with God’s plan for us. We are living a misunderstanding of why we have bodies, and how we should interact with others. Modern culture teaches us that things are for love and people are for use, which is exactly the opposite of God’s plan. 

What I am talking about here can be much better understood through a study of Saint Pope John Paul II’s writings and specifically in his Theology of the Body.  At the end of this week, the Archdiocese of Chicago is bringing together a group of young adults and teens to immerse in these teachings. We will spend 7 days studying and living our faith, as God intended, through a deep immersion into Theology of the Body.  The Respect Life Office has partnered with Dumb-ox Ministries from New Orleans to bring the ECHO retreat to Chicago. The results of this week will be life-changing for those involved. Please keep all of us in your prayers June 24-30, as we share in these incredible teachings, which encompass the foundation of our faith. Included in this retreat, sharing with our young people (teens and young adults) are representatives from all of our life-long vocations: priests, sisters, married and families and single people all called to work together with the Holy Spirit to worship and to know God through Jesus Christ.

If you would like to know more about Theology of the Body, please call our Respect Life Office at (312) 534-5355 or our website at www.respectlifechicago.org to learn about additional opportunities to study and participate in these teachings.

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