By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer
The thousand or so people who packed St. Patrick Church in Eastwood Sept. 18 heard that the human person is irreplaceable, indispensable and unrepeatable.
That message was delivered by Christopher West, a Catholic author and educator from the Theology of the Body Institute.
He presented “Made for More — Visions of the Promised Land,” in which he explores St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. The collection of papal teachings was added to elementary schools’ religion curriculum in the Archdiocese of Louisville last school year.
West delivered his message to a sold-out church Sept. 18 and offered an encore the following night. He opened his Sept. 18 presentation — which featured video and music by Mike Mangione — by asking the congregation a question.
What were the first words spoken by Jesus Christ in the Gospel of John? The answer came from a woman in the congregation: “What do you want?”
Those words “couldn’t be more important to our lives” in today’s world, said West. They are “the cry of the heart.”
Everyone is looking for something, he said. Inside every person is a deep desire to be “loved, known and seen.”
“This is what Jesus is talking about when he asks ‘what do you want?’ We want to be loved, known and seen at the deepest level,” said West. “Anybody can wear a mask to attract attention, but we’re looking for more than that.”
Despite the desire to be seen on a deep level, individuals often “look, but do not see,” said West.
People tend to look at another and see that person’s outward appearance. This leads to the physical body being perceived as something that’s “disposable,” he said. Individuals in society have become accustomed to treating the body as a “thing.”
But the body is truly a “revelation” of who someone is, he said.
“When we treat the body as a thing we evaluate the body by looking at it to determine if it pleases us. We look at it as something dispensable,” said West. “The human person is irreplaceable, indispensable and unrepeatable. You are the only one like you in the world.”
Growing up, West said, he had an older brother who ridiculed him constantly. His brother “looked but didn’t see.”
West said he carried the pain from his childhood into adulthood. He was in his 30s before he was able to talk about his feelings. During adulthood, his wife, his close friends, priests and St. John Paul II’s teachings help to reveal to him the person he was, West told the crowd. “They saw my gifts, but also my brokenness. I felt seen, known and loved.”
West said that when an individual has those positive feelings about himself they start seeing others that way as well.
“You see others and you want them to know how valuable they are,” he said. “You’re filled with reverence when you realize that a person is made in the image and likeness of God.”
Stuart Green, a parishioner at St. Louis Bertrand Church, was one of the hundreds who heard West’s presentation. Green said the message was “life-changing.”
“Christopher West did a great job of communicating the importance of Theology of the Body and its importance and impact on everyday life,” said Green. “It was truly a life-changing experience.”
Angela Dutton, who was in the packed audience, said the presentation resonated with her on a personal level.
“It coincides with feelings I’ve been having about unconditional love and loving myself in order to receive the love of others,” said Dutton, a parishioner at St. Raphael Church. “It’s pertinent for me, the affirmation that we’re all seeking love and that the feelings we have inside are not bad, they are good we just have to channel them in the right direction.”
The event was sponsored by St. Patrick and co-sponsored by St. Albert the Great, St. Luke, St. Peter the Apostle, St. Raphael and St. Rita parishes. It was organized by the Family Renewal Project, an apostolate established in the Archdiocese of Louisville in 2016. For more information on Theology of the Body visit https://community.theologyofthebody.com/?r_done=1.