A week ago, the charter bus struggled up the steep driveway that ends in front of the Black Rock Retreat Center, 50 miles outside Philly, where my flight had landed several hours earlier.
We had arrived for the Theology of the Body Institute’s TOB I: Head and Heart Immersion Course, instructed by Bill Donaghy in 10 sessions in six days in Amish Country. At home now, I type from my couch, ultimately aware of this:
BEST. WEEK. EVER.
I’ve never done anything like it in my life: fly somewhere where nobody I know would be waiting at the other side, to stay for a week with strangers. The strangers, as it turns out, were brothers and sisters in Christ and the week, one of my most memorable.
In no particular order, here are my thoughts on the experience, and what I learned:
- I have so much more to learn about TOB.
- “Prayer can progress, as a genuine dialogue of love, to the point of rendering the person wholly possessed by the divine Beloved.” -JP2 in Novo Millenio Ineunte
- I need more Legionaries of Christ in my life. (And if you’re ever given the opp to sit around a table to have late night tea and conversation with a couple of ’em, do it.)
- “Man cannot live without love. … his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it.” -JP2 in Redemptor Hominis
- Good Catholic men DO exist.
- On men and women: “They are ‘brother and sister’ in the same humanity before they are ‘husband and wife.'” -page 25 of our workbook
- HOW AWESOME ARE AMISH PEOPLE? For real.
- “Human nature has not been totally corrupted; it is wounded…” -Catechism of the Catholic Church
- “Lust … is eros cut off from agape.” -page 40 of our workbook
- You can find examples of TOB everywhere, including in Lil Wayne songs.
- “Love God, and do whatever you want.” -St. Augustine
- I need no further proof that the human body is good and worth taking care of than the reminder that it’ll eventually resurrect and reunite with my soul after I’m dead.
- TOB is the answer to the misguided (aka “totally wrong”) messages that the body is bad, sex is dirty, and it’s a woman’s fault if a man lusts, which circulate in and outside the church all the time.
- Bill Donaghy is hilarious. And his son now refers to me as “G-ma,” which is short for grandma. And I’m ok with it.
- “Every man is called in some way to be both a husband (self-gift) and a father (fruitfulness). Every woman is called in some way to be both a wife (self-gift) and a mother (fruitfulness).” -page 69 in our workbook
- Christ didn’t dominate his church. (Remember that when you read Ephesians 5.)
- I am VERY excited to wear my TOB t-shirt to mass tonight.