Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lives Changed...

My name is Matthew, and I am a 25-year-old Catholic man serving in the United States Marine Corps. Since I first heard the late Pope John Paul II’s teaching on the Theology of the Body as a junior in college, I have been praying continually for the grace to live my manhood as Christ originally intended. In January, 2009, I had the opportunity to spend a week in prayer and study on this magnificent truth in the Head and Heart Immersion Course. By the power of the Holy Spirit it was a life-changing experience, and hands-down the best week of my life.
The Head and Heart Immersion Course did many things to deepen my relationship with God. First off, it deeply affirmed a priestly calling I had been discerning since midway through my last deployment. The thought of a religious vocation was both exciting and terrifying to me. In the midst of a steady relationship coupled with a lifelong desire to marry and raise a family, the thought of a celibate vocation, to say the least, had its immediate drawbacks. With sincere prayer and the enlightening lessons throughout the course, Christ softened my heart to receive whatever vocation he called me to. I pray that when my service commitment concludes, my calling to priesthood will be as intense and peaceful as it is right now.

Secondly, it taught me the significance of our posture before God in prayer. Prior to the course, I suffered from the belief that piety was tied solely to works. The Petrine paradigm of “Proclaim to the nations,” to me, was the greatest model of the Christian lifestyle. This model, however, often left me exhausted, and waffling between spiritually strong periods and dry spells. The introduction to a Marian posture of “Let it be done according to thy word,” brought me to a new level of spirituality I had never experienced. It is not that Christ is calling us to be inactive. Rather, He desires that the seed He sews take root in us first, so that it may bear fruit before we scatter it. There is nothing more active and receptive than the posture of our Blessed Mother, and in striving to live her example more completely, I have found greater peace, despite the increasing “activity” of my life.

Finally, amidst the great distractions and empty promises of counterfeit love in our society today, it is a great consolation to know there are those who share the desire to love as God intended. Since finishing the course, I have kept in touch with many of the people I met that week. They were a large part of the experience I had in the course. The bonds we formed through prayer, the sacraments, discussion, and laughter are both consolations to fall back on during times of spiritual dryness and affirmation, amidst temptation, to continue to love rightly. I cherish the friendships I developed during that week in Black Rock.
We are all called to experience truth. Being made in Christ’s image, we were created for God’s love. The Theology of the Body is the Catholic Church that I never learned in Catholic schools. With this greater understanding of Catholicism, I proudly affirm it as the one true faith instilled by Christ and preserved by the Pope and our Mother Church. It is the path to living our sexuality to its fullest sacramental potential, the road to true man and womanhood, and a more powerful weapon against evil for Christ and His Church than any artillery.
-- Taken from the September 2009 edition of the Theology of the Body Institute Newsletter

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