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Theology of the Body expert talks about desire

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Third annual One Conference welcomes nearly 1,200
By Agnieszka Krawczynski
The B.C. Catholic

Caption: Dominic Giasson-Garcia (left) engages passerby Jim Brown at the archdiocesan vocations office booth. Agnieszka Krawczynski / The B.C. Catholic.


In a time when faith is facing heated opposition in the public square, nearly 1,200 Catholics gathered in Vancouver at an event billed as "one body, one faith, one mission."

"It was a blessing to see so many people gathered because of the one faith, and I felt a genuine hope there, a hope of engaging the world in love and truth," said event chairman Patrick Gillespie.

The sold-out third annual One Conference, hosted at the Vancouver Convention Centre Feb. 15, included four speakers, over 60 ministry exhibitors, and Mass with the archbishop.

"That yearning, that burning, that hunger we feel is really and truly a desire for God," said educator and author Christopher West. "When we take that desire for God to things that are less than God, it only leads to misery."

Using examples from Les Miserables, a musical based on the 1862 novel of the same name, the speaker paced the stage, singing and speaking about the misdirected desire for happiness and need for mercy.

"You are not crazy to desire life and life to the full," he maintained. "We're not crazy to have these dreams, desires, and longings. Hold on to that dream, despite the pain, the sorrow, the agony."

A well-known theology of the body expert, West said God placed desires in each heart to draw it closer to Him, in a relationship that the Bible most often describes as a wedding.

"From the beginning to end the Bible tells us a story about marriage," he said. "Revelation is a wedding between Christ and His Church. Our bodies are theological; they tell a divine story."

Desires for what is good, true, and beautiful, also called the transcendentals, are ways people draw closer to God. West said the Greek word for these was eros.

"Tragically, in our modern world, that which is erotic usually means what is false, twisted, and ugly," he added. The use of finite things to fill a desire for the infinite is the cause for this abuse.

Speaker Josephine Lombardi, who also discussed the transcendentals, pointed out that coming to know God involves self-knowledge.

"How can you draw close to God when you are far from your own self?" she asked the crowd. "You know when you've encountered Christ when you've experienced a transformation, a change in character."

Currently an assistant professor and director of lay formation at a seminary in Ontario as well as an adviser to the CCCB on doctrine and Catholic-Muslim relations, Lombardi urged those present to take a deep look at their personalities.

"Are we humble enough to know our own abilities, and to know what it feels like to be in our presence? Some people don't know their gifts and some don't know how they've hurt people."

Having the courage to understand oneself and the humility to surrender one's faults are important steps in coming to know God as Abba, or Father, Lombardi added.

"Jesus came to remind us who we are. He wanted to heal our image of God. God is approachable; He invites us into this intimacy."

The important thing, she said, is to have true faith, based on belief, knowledge, and trust. "Jesus is a sneak preview of renewed humanity; we are called to be a sneak preview of Christ."

Father Robert Spitzer, SJ, president of the Magis Center of Reason and Faith and the Spitzer Center, spoke on some of the obstacles Catholics face in evangelizing in North America.

His presentation, titled "Stemming the Tide of Unbelief," also discussed four levels of happiness, which move from the temporal to the eternal.

Knowing how to love God is made easier, not harder, by the 10 commandments taught Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, during his homily at Mass that afternoon, he claimed.

"The commandments are not a litany of prohibitions: you must not do this, you must not do that, you must not do the other; on the contrary, they are a great 'yes!' A yes to God, to love, and to life," he said.

"When we put (them) into practice, we find the way to freedom and authentic love. The commandments do not place limits on happiness, but rather show us how to find it."

Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 March 2014 14:19  

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