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Monday, March 21, 2011

Theology: Theology of the Body: “The Best Method of Educating Man” (High School)

Update: This live course has concluded and is currently as a recorded course through our Unlimited Access Subscription Service. This is a great way to learn at your own pace when your schedule allows.To subscribe or learn more: Middle and High School Online Classes

(click on title to register)

Class dates: Tuesdays, August 30 to October 18, 2011
Total classes: 8
Starting time: 1:00 pm Eastern (Noon Central)
Duration: 1 hour
Fee: $90 if you register on or before August 1, 2011. $120 after August 1 for entire 8-week course.
Course instructor: Monica Ashour, MTS; M Hum
Prerequisite: None.
Suggested grade level: 10th to 12th
High school credit: 1/2 semester credit in theology

Course description: This 8-week overview of Pope John Paul’s Theology of the Body will give a “bird’s eye” perspective of the whole of TOB. Far from relegating TOB to the area of sex and sexuality, TOB provides meaningful tools to see one’s life in the context of Jesus’ love for His Church and the life and love of the Blessed Trinity. A special emphasis will be made regarding the vocational call to the priesthood, religious life, and married life, and how both “celibacy for the Kingdom” (JPII’s words) and marriage mirror and inform each other.

Course rationale: In order to live the “abundant life” that Jesus said He came to bring us, we need to know who we are, made in God’s image and likeness. A new vision of such anthropology has been given to us by God through (soon-to-be) Blessed Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body (TOB). A deep, proper study of this work brings with it a renewal of the person who embraces such teachings. The late Holy Father’s biographer, George Wiegel, called it a “time bomb” set to go off sometime after the Pope’s death. Angelo Cardinal Scola remarks that every area of Catholic thought can be undergirded by the Theology of the Body; thus, this course will not only offer an opportunity for ongoing renewal for the student but also a basis to explore other areas of his/her faith with TOB as a foundation. Pope John Paul himself said that his Theology of the Body is the “best method of educating man.”

Homework: Weekly Quizzes, Major Project, & Final Exam: graded by parent. (Answer key provided, with reference to powerpoint.) All of this is optional, at the discretion of the parent.

Course materials: The reading will assist the student in delving into a deep understanding of the human person, especially in the area of vocational discernment, sexuality, and self-mastery. Most materials (excerpts) are available free online or used inexpensively.
1. A Catholic Bible
4. Vita Consecrata (Pope John Paul’s encyclical on religious life)
5. Familaris Consortio (Pope John Paul’s encyclical on the family);
6. Deus Caritas Est (Pope Benedict’s encyclical on love); Peter Kreeft’s Heaven: The Heart’s Deepest Longing (his best book), Ignatius Press
7. The Weight of Glory and Man or Rabbit, both by CS Lewis;
8. Fr. Basil Maturin’s Christian Self-Mastery, Sophia Institute Press;
9. Assorted audiences from the Theology of the Body (pdf files provided free by instructor).
10. Dr. Michael Waldstein’s Introduction to the Theology of the Body (excerpts provided free by instructor). Dr. Waldstein is the official translator of TOB.
Additional reading (optional): Fr. Michael Scanlon’s What Does God Want: A Practical Guide to Making Decisions, Our Sunday Visitor. For parents: Monica Ashour’s Parent’s Guide to The Theology of the Body for Teens, Ascension Press. To form the imagination regarding body and soul as a composite: Dostoevsky’s The Devils; Flannery O’Connor’s “Parker’s Back.”

Course outline:
Week 1
• Course Expectations
• Quick overview of Christian Anthropology: Man made in God’s image and likeness before the Fall; Trinitarian Theology (our goal: we are made for union and communion with God which includes others, says Pope John Paul’s Theology of the Body, “the most suitable education about man”)
• An overview of TOB and its origin and goal.
• Modernity’s project and JPII’s response.
• The Spirituality of St. John of the Cross.
• The philosophical thought of Francis Bacon, Renee Descartes, and John Calvin (Waldstein’s Intro)
• Utilitarianism and Gnosticism.

Week 2
• The “language of the body”
• Original man (inclusive sense of the word: male and female).
• Original Solitude. Positive light—the individual, capable of self-mastery in all areas of his/her life.
• Self-understanding, self-determination, in the context of being a “body-person.”
• “Jesus reveals man fully to himself and makes clear his exalted vocation.” (GS 22)
• All humans are receptive in relation to God
• The original plan of God for communion—4-fold communion.
• C. S. Lewis’ “Man and Rabbit” and “Weight of Glory”

Week 3
• Original Unity
• The “interior gaze”
• The “spousal meaning of the body”
• “Man can only find himself in a sincere gift of himself” (GS # 24).
• The types of love: Filial, eros, caritas. (Deus Caritas Est)
• “Man is the only creature made for himself” (GS #24) (Even God can’t use us in negative sense of the word).

Week 4
• Fallen man.
• “Doubting the gift”
• The Sacramental View of Reality vs. an Abstract View of Reality, which causes ruptures between God and man, man within himself, man with others, and man with creation.
• We will apply this abstract view to wrongs such as gossip, lying, stealing, abortion, pornography, etc.
• Sin= “splitting oneself”, body from spirit (JPII’s term) ; “un-being” oneself (Pope Benedict’s term)
• The 3-fold concupiscence

Week 5
• Redeemed man.
• We do not remain hopeless since Christ came to heal the rupture.
• The Sacramental/Incarnational View of Reality brings wholeness, healing, forgiveness (comes from same root words).
• Self-mastery (Fr. Maturin’s Christian Self-Mastery)
• The “inner movements of the heart”
• Christ’s invitation, not condemnation
• “Life in the Spirit” as described by JPII in TOB

Week 6
• Eschatological Man.
• “Spiritualized body”
• Divinization
• “Intersubjectivity” and the communion of saints
• Heaven: Our Goal (Kreeft’s Heaven: The Heart’s Deepest Longing)
• “Celibacy for the Kingdom”

Week 7
• Vocational Discernment—Prayer and trust in God.
• Consecrated life, priesthood, and married life—mirror of each other
• The Order of Creation and the Order of Redemption
• The importance of understanding one’s sexuality in either vocation.
• The understanding of the objectively higher calling of religious life but the individual’s subjective call from God.

Week 8
• Recapitulation of Everything
• The theological differences between NFP vs. ABC (Natural Family Planning vs. Artificial Birth Control)
• Piety being the most important virtue for a married couple.
• Review for Exam—Diagrams, short answers, longer answers, major essay
• Final remarks—Telos: The Perichoresis, life and love between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

The Theology of the Body: “The Best Method of Educating Man”
(click on title to register)

Equipment requirements:
Classes are online, live and interactive. Students are required to have high-speed internet and a headset with microphone.

Miss Ashour will be available via email in between classes for questions and comments.
Recordings of classes are provided to students within 24 hours and available for 6 months.
Homeschool Connections does not provide record keeping services.

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