TOBET Seminar and Talk Topics
General TOB fundamentals—The “Language of the Body”, Holiness and “Gift of Self”, tailored to any age range or audience. Great introduction for a series or TOB week.
TOB Talks for Children
Presentations for children are fun, interactive and engaging!
- The Body Has Meaning: Setting A TOB Basis for Lifelong Love
- The Body of Christ: The Body Is Integral To Christianity
- My Body as a Teacher: Learning to listen to the body, and whether, how and when to respond
Most TOB talks for children explore foundational concepts without directly addressing sexuality. Example: in My Body as a Teacher, speaker would use examples like:
“How do you know you are hungry? Your body tells you! How do you know you’re sleepy? Your body!”
Middle School Topics
Culture of Social Media—C.S. Lewis says that we enslave a generation when we give advanced technology to the young without guidelines and limits regarding its use. This talk guides and challenges young people to consider the body as a guide for face-to-face encounters.
Confirmation—What’s the point? Is it real that it changes us? Who is the Holy Spirit? What does the Theology of the Body say about life in the Spirit? Sacrament prep classes (8th grade-high school) preparing for Confirmation will be engaged and excited about receiving this Sacrament.
Cliques and Gossip—The two vices bring division and sadness. Kids will discover the union and joy that are present when principles of TOB are applied to friendships.
Catholic All Your Life!—Why the middle schooler should stay Catholic—a free and fun adventure! This talk covers general catechesis.
Chastity: A Path for True Love
The Body Matters: Who Am I?—Foundational Talk. This is THE central truth to convey. This gives a sacramental view of reality. (Another way to look at it is that our body matters. Matter matters. There is meaning behind our body and our bodily actions).
How Does the Body Speak a Language?—Just like you have to study a language, Pope John Paul gave us the Theology of the Body as a guide to help us “translate” the language of our bodies. Our bodies matter. The body is like a teacher. The more we understand the language of the body, the better we will understand how to live life. One example: The Language of the Body of Laughter is meant to bond. When we laugh WITH our classmates/friends, that bonds us together more. Unfortunately, we can tell lies with the body, not just with the mouth, when we violate the truth of the body, like laughing AT someone to be mean. It divides, the opposite of the reason God invented laughter-which is to bond. Jesus can help us to live the truth of the language of the body.
The Simple Formula for Holiness-It’s Possible!—Give definition of holiness: having a pure heart and bodily actions follow. Example: if in my pure heart (well-formed conscience or knowing right and wrong) I know I am supposed to do my homework right when I get home from school, and with my bodily actions, I do my homework, that is holiness! Now we might ask: what is the opposite of holiness? Sin. Sin is the opposite of holiness: sin means to VIOLATE the truth of the body, to split my bodily actions from my pure heart. Example: If in my pure heart, I know I am not supposed to cheat, but with my bodily actions, I cheat, I am “splitting” my body and soul. This gives a more concrete understanding of sin for teens, and it helps them to see that sin is not good for them. It not only hurts God and others; it hurts them. Confession heals the rupture. They are made whole again, ready to start afresh.
The Meaning of Life! It Will Surprise You!—Gift of self via the body is a code word for love-starting with our families! How do we know this: through our bodies. See how our bodies are geared to go TOWARD the other? If I play a game (which always entails the body) with my little brother or sister, that is the gift of self via the body, that is loving my family. That’s the meaning of life: love! What is opposite of love? The opposite of love is not hatred, but use. Using others is the opposite of the gift of self, the opposite of the meaning of life. Example: Do you use your parents, only talking to them when you want money; otherwise, you don’t talk to them? Do you use a classmate, only talking to them because they are smart in math; otherwise, you talk about them behind their backs? That is use, the opposite of love. Jesus wants us to love always because that brings happiness. Ask Him to help you to love, not to use others.
The Truth and Meaning of Marital Love
(Note: If TOBET is asked to address such subject matter, it will always be done in a sacred way, as directed by the bishops’ document, The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality. Note: This is not a sex-ed talk; this is a way for teens to hear about the sacredness of marital love since they hear the opposite so much in culture.) Let’s review the 3 basic concepts (language of the body, holiness, and gift of self) and apply them to sexuality. First, Sexual Desire is good, for it is God given. After the first initial response, remember who you are (certain bodily actions mean certain things; holiness; gift of self not use). Language of the Body of Marital Love matches Language of the Words of Vow said on altar. (Otherwise, it is telling a lie with the body and going against the 3 basic principles.) Anyone who has fallen in any area can be forgiven. Jesus forgives and heals us. Living according to the truth and meaning of the body is not possible-except through an encounter with Christ, which happens especially in the sacraments. Living according to the truth and meaning of the body will bring happiness, holiness, freedom, and joy. You can live it!
Chastity—Why this virtue is under attack and how it protects true love and brings deep joy.
Masculinity and Femininity—Our bodies are like the best teachers, helping us understand life so that we can love. Find out what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman, taught to you by none other than your own body!
Dating—When is it right? What is it for? How far is too far? This talk challenges teens not only regarding sexual chastity but also emotional modesty.
Social Media, Bullying, and the Incarnation—A person-to-person encounter in the flesh is what all humans desire, but technology is beginning to usurp such a face-to-face experience. This talk presents guidelines as well as addressing bullying.
The Mass—Answering common question about Mass: Why do I have to go to something so boring? What difference does it mean in my life? Can’t I skip Sunday every now and then? Why can’t Catholics have exciting praise and worship instead of Mass? Do we really eat Jesus’ flesh?
Vocations for Love—A look at marriage and celibacy for the Kingdom (priesthood and consecrated life) as complementary, meaningful commitments which afford love, and the process of discernment of one’s vocation. Includes funny and compelling stories from priests and religious which show the joy of consecrated life and priesthood, as well as the wonders of marriage.
Why do Catholics do that?—General catechesis from a TOB perspective. The inviting youth minister or teacher can decide on which topics ought to be covered.
Controversial Issues—Monica Ashour, expert national speaker and former teacher, presents the truth of the human person, made in God’s image and likeness, followed by the logical consequences regarding tough contemporary issues surrounding today’s society.
Potential topics can include:
- Gender Identity
- Euthanasia and assisted suicide
- In-vitro fertilization
- All-male priesthood, Purgatory, confession and other Catholic teachings
This talk topic requires plenty of time and an openness to and receptivity to the truth of the Body, backed by the Church’s teachings. We recommend that it be part 2 or 3 of several sessions of explaining TOB. When presented to teens, parent permission is required. Click here for a sample permission form.
The Language of the Body: Trust and Receptivity—Recall that we have established that the body speaks a language, even without words. Now, let’s take a look at what God put on the very top of our bodies: our heads with our face being so prominent. We have 7 openings on our face and from these we learn the language of our body is meant to be receptive. What does receptive mean? OPEN-like your mouth can be OPEN, your eyes can be OPEN, etc. The face speaks of openness:7 openings on face-be open to God and those you can and should trust. Adam and Eve doubted God, and thus they sinned. You and I are to live according to the language of the body of our faces, open to God-Trust Him! But closed to bad things/messages.
The Language of the Body: Your Bodily Presence is a Present—The body is our teacher-it matters. Therefore, let’s talk about the difference between being face-to-face (bodily present) with another and texting others. Which can bring about better conversation, better friendship, better interaction? If you are always plugged in around your parents, what does the language of your body say to them: I don’t want to talk to you. But, your body-meaning YOU-are there with them. The body tells you that you ought to be present as a present to them. Your bodily presence is a present. As opposed to that comes a key word in the Theology of the Body, detachment, and how the more detached from the body, the easier it is to isolate and bully. Teens really get this concept (I don’t have to see the person on Facebook/Twitter, and so it is easier to bully at a distance) and it helps them think through not only bullying, but what it means to be a loving human at all times, made in God’s image and likeness.
The Language of the Body: The Mass—“This is my Body, given” are the most important words of the Universe, said at every Mass. This talk brings alive the “flux capacitor” of Mass, showing teens the Mass is not boring at all! It is like time and space travel-done in a fun way with a serious show of the impact of the Mass at the end. (Need a strong blanket.)
The Language of the Body: Sensitive Topics—Unless TOBET is asked to address such topics at individual times with a minimum of one hour, such topics will NOT be addressed. We know how to pastorally address things such as homosexuality and gender identity theory, but parents either ought to be informed or invited to sit in the back for the talk. Other topics may include abortion, pornography, contraception, and sterilization can also be addressed, but only if TOBET is given a sufficient amount of time. Pope John Paul in the Theology of the Body often refers to invitation, not condemnation. Any topic, any sin, is always mentioned in light of mercy, forgiveness, healing, and conversion. Pope Francis reiterates the need to understand the person-not rules. This is PRECISELY the Theology of the Body: a total vision of man (male and female, starting with the human body)-all the rest (morality) falls into place if we know how we are made in God’s image and likeness, starting with the body.
Marriage, Sex, and God’s Design
The Violation of the Feminine and TOB’s Response
True Christian Humanism: TOB’s Balance
What is the Theology of The Body and Why Should I Care?—This compelling talk gives an overview of St. John Paul’s Theology of the Body, the “why’s” behind the “what’s” of the Catholic Church’s teaching.
Don’t You Want Your Inheritance? God’s Design for a Joy-filled Marriage—The last chapter of St. John Paul’s Theology of the Body, “He Gave Them the Law of Life as their Inheritance” shows how contraception takes away from the true experience of conjugal spirituality. This talk shows why that is and the truth of marriage in God’s design.
Renewing and Improving Your Marriage—Drawing from TOB and giving very practical tools in the area of communication skills, this talk can be a springboard for renewing your marriage as well as your encounter with Jesus Christ and His Church.
Teaching TOB to Tots, Tweens, and Teens—As many parts of the nation give messages in direct opposition to God’s design, there is hope! St. John Paul’s TOB is not merely about sexuality; it is an anthropology, starting with the truth of the body. This talk gives concrete examples of reaching children in age-appropriate ways about the fact that the body matters.
The Violation of the Feminine and TOB’s Response—Starting from Eve in the Garden and up to the #MeToo Movement, women experience violation. St. John Paul gives a great antidote in TOB, good for women and men alike.
What Do I Say to My Child Who Has Bought the Lies of Society?—Covering issues such as transgender ideology, homosexuality, abortion, pornography, this talk equips parents and other educators with practical tools to reach teens and young adults.
Catholicism for EveryBODY: The Catholic Faith from a TOB Perspective—The Theology of the Body gives a breadth and depth of our faith seen with new “sacramental Son-glasses.” Augustine gave us a theology we needed in his time; 800 years later, Aquinas in his time; 800 years later, St. John Paul gives a riveting view of the human person, called to go beyond the Veil between time & eternity and the natural & supernatural. Prepare to be awed.
TOB and Prayer Life—St. John of the Cross influenced St. John Paul II in a profound way. This talk relates John of the Cross’ mysticism with John Paul’s TOB. This challenging spirituality is then brought down to an accessible level for growth in one’s prayer life.
TOB and the “Catholic AND’s”—The breathtaking perspective of TOB forms a holistic mosaic of the Catholic faith. So often, we think that God only has the power, but God wants our cooperation, and all of us, Body AND Soul, Reason AND Faith. This talk elaborates and changes lives by its sheer, immense vision.