TOBET has done many things in our 17-year life, but there is one thing we are uniquely qualified to do: teach children the theology of the body.
To interpret and re-express very sophisticated ideas in simple ways takes a special gift. I venture to say that Monica Ashour is one of the few who could do it. With Masters degrees from the University of Dallas (a Catholic university with a pronounced philosophical bent,) repeated expeditions through St. John Paul’s text, and over twenty years of classroom teaching experience, Monica has led our team of authors into uncharted territory… adapting the theology of the body for children.
St. John Paul’s Theology of the Body is a masterpiece of theology and philosophy, written somewhere near the post-doctoral level. I was required to plow my way through it in my master’s program, and it gave me a charley-horse of the brain. Now TOBET is translating it down to a kindergarten-through-eighth-grade level of understanding.
As the team has distilled the work into age-appropriate bites, we have discovered how truly basic the theology of the body really is. It is no less than the total Catholic vision of the human person. Given our current culture, in which the body is seen as a billboard or a tool to manipulate, the theology of the body reminds us who we really are, body and soul, made in God’s image.
In this way, The Body Matters curriculum is for adults as well as children. We all breathe the air of this culture, and even adults are taken by surprise when they encounter the truths that St. John Paul has given to us in the theology of the body.
It is a revolutionary work we’re doing, so we are delighted to have received from Archbishop Aquila (Denver) his Imprimatur for the first books of each level. This gives us the assurance that our distillation of very precise and dense philosophical ideas down to children’s level is on-track. Archbishop Aquila writes that “the texts compellingly convey the teachings of St. John Paul II on the Theology of the Body, accomplishing the crucial task of making this treasure of the Church accessible to elementary school students.”
I propose to spend the next few months, posting from our curriculum series, upscaled for adult understanding. The children who receive this curriculum from pre-school forward will be the biggest winners because they’ll be formed by it. But each one of us, young or old, needs it.