Who would have thought that a Bruce Springsteen song could be used to explain papal teachings?
Author and lecturer Christopher West did just that, singing, “Everybody’s got a hungry heart,” to introduce his presentation on “God, Sex and the Meaning of Life: An Introduction to Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.”
West’s presentation was part of the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s annual Adult Lecture Series on April 5, and it drew a packed house of more than 500 to St. Paul Seminary.
The crowd was diverse and multigenerational, with students scribbling notes, grandparents smiling as infants babbled in the arms of their parents, and clergy being applauded for their example.
West is a noted expert on theology of the body, having authored three books, recorded numerous presentations and delivered live presentations in more than 150 cities on four continents.
West explained that theology of the body refers to a collection of 129 talks delivered by Pope John Paul II between 1979 and 1984. Its application is universal, West noted. “If you’ve got a body, this theology applies to you!”
Although the phrase “theology of the body” seems to be self-contradictory (theology being a study of the spiritual and the body being earthly), West explained that when seen in the light of Christianity, its purpose becomes clear. Much of Christianity is making visible of the invisible, and the central tenet of Christianity is that God made himself visible in the person of Jesus Christ. “The theology of the body gets us in touch with the ‘Word made flesh,’” West said.
He explained that the human body was created by God to “make visible the reality hidden in God from eternity”: that God himself in the Trinity is an eternal exchange of love, and he has destined us to share in it. The marital embrace itself is a glimpse of God’s free, total, faithful, life-giving love.
West said our “hungry hearts,” our natural human longing for life, is actually a manifestation of our longing for God. “God’s love is what those ‘housewives’ are really ‘desperate’ for,” West noted, also quoting G.K. Chesterton, who wrote, “Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is actually looking for God.”
Amazing what happens whey you actually teach the faith and the deep beauty of it instead of crap like the musical erotica.