Five years… and finally finished!
And it is a hummer! A total and complete synthesis of all the content that went before, in grades K through 8.
Flashback to 2015: two calls from Canada; calls and emails from all over the United States. Archbishop Aquila, Bishop Mark Seitz, Bishop Mike Sis, Bishop David Konderla, Bishop Joseph Strickland, and Bishop Kevin Vann all agreed,
“We need materials to teach children the Theology of the Body. They are being swept away by harmful messages as early as first grade.”
Thus was The Body Matters conceived.
Pauline Books and Media had just published my three Tots books (ages 1 to 5), and I knew that all ages ought to receive the Theology of the Body (TOB) according to their developmental stages.
After prayer and gathering fantastic donors, I got to work. I formed a team of childhood development experts, former teachers of all age levels, editors attentive to beauty, talented illustrators and graphic design artists, and several consultants with Master’s degrees in Theology. It became a professional team of which I was intensely proud.
Later, we added a Censor Librorum, the theologian appointed by Archbishop Samuel Aquila to review each volume for fidelity to Catholic doctrine. All our books and educator guides emerged in finely-tuned shape from this process, proudly bearing the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur that certify their Catholicism.
Five years of blood, sweat, and (literal) tears later, we welcomed TOBET’s final book. Geared towards the eighth grade, Catholicism for EveryBODY, the 18th of 18 books, with accompanying educator guides, is finally complete.
In my original vision five years ago, I planned for eighth-graders to receive age-appropriate introductions to Trinitarian theology, Christian anthropology, ecclesiology (the study of the Church), sacramental theology, moral theology, soteriology (the study of how we are saved), and Mariology.
Yes, I know… it sounds like a bit much! But I had been a religion teacher for over twenty years, and I knew eighth-graders would rise to the challenge if the faith was explained compellingly.
That’s what Catholicism for EveryBODY gives children and their parents: a different, compelling, brief catechesis of Catholicism from a Theology of the Body perspective.
Lesson 1 covers the first four topics above; Lesson 2 goes into more detail about sacramental theology; Lesson 3 gives a unique way of understanding moral theology; Lesson 4 poignantly covers how we are saved and Mary’s role in our salvation.
Over twenty years ago, George Weigel said that all of the Catholic faith could be taught from a TOB perspective. In the classroom for many years, that is just what I did. In fact, the diagram on page 19 explaining the sacraments is the creation of mine for my eighth-grade students back then!
Of all the pages of all eighteen books of The Body Matters series, my favorite is the dramatic “dark page” in Catholicism for EveryBODY. The blackened background poignantly underscores the theology of the crucifixion, the significance of Holy Saturday, and Jesus’ bodily Resurrection, all related to the apex of the Liturgical Year, the Easter Vigil.
Other highlights include understanding salvation history, Mary’s Immaculate Conception, the body as “prophet,” “no Church, no covenant,” all from a TOB view. Our books’ finale speaks of our being drawn to the Body of Christ and then being sent on a mission, an apt conclusion for eighth-graders on their way to more significant challenges.
Now it is time to get these books out! And to continue creating content so desperately needed in our culture.
We at TOBET often feel the presence of the Holy Spirit guiding us, along with St. John Paul’s intercession. Please continue to pray for those who will read our books. We strongly believe this is THE answer since The Body Matters presents a new way to draw closer to the Answer, Jesus Christ.