Monday, February 13, 2017

This Lent: the Sanctification of the Mind

I promised a big reveal today, and here it comes. But first, a message from Blessed James Alberione (this is kind of a "condensed" version of one of his drum-beat themes):
Of all the faculties that God has blessed us with, the gift of the mind is the one that is the most often neglected or even compromised. How often we waste the precious gifts of intelligence and understanding, frittering our minds away in curiosity or in superficial use of the media when God calls us to "be transformed by the renewal of your minds" (Rom 12: 2), to have the very thoughts of God, so that not only is it Christ who lives in me (that is, in my words, choices and way of acting), it is Christ who thinks in me!
One of the spiritual disciplines that most fosters the sanctification of the mind is dedication to some form of study of the faith. It may be reading the Catechism over the course of a year, or setting aside a certain amount of time each day or week to devote to reading the lives or writings of the saints, or recent Church documents, or taking an updating course. Needless to say, Lent is a perfect time to begin a spiritual practice of this sort. That is why so many parishes will be offering weekly lectures or Scripture study programs. Now there is a brand-new program that is both an exploration of the Bible and a presentation of the teachings of the Church in some of the most perplexing issues of our day.

If you find it hard to really agree with Church teachings (or practice) concerning the human body and the meaning of natural marriage, the treatment of the body after death (for example, the prohibition of scattering cremated remains), the vocation to celibacy, and just why birth control is such an issue, or if you accept the Church's position in all these areas but struggle to reconcile them with your love for family members who find some of these teachings impossible to live by, why not dedicate the 6+ weeks  of Lent to a guided, reflective study of Pope John Paul's Theology of the Body? You will be devoting 6 weeks to a unique reading of Sacred Scripture, starting from the very beginning: the gift of creation and the creation of man and woman in the image of God.

Yes, this is the program that I have been working on, preparing the free downloadable study guide so that the video series (a total of 12 hours of content) can be easily and fruitfully used by individuals or groups (whether formal parish groups or informal gatherings and book clubs). Two hours a week will bring you to Holy Week with a deeper understanding of the Bible as a whole, and may help you approach the Easter sacraments personally renewed "in the spirit of your mind," better able to marvel at God's goodness in your own life. I think Blessed James Alberione would also suggest that the discipline itself of following a program of study is a very positive form of penance that can be offered in reparation for the ever-increasing number of offenses against the dignity of the human body: human trafficking, pornography (including films like the new 50 shades series), and the aggressive denial of the meaning and nature of masculinity and femininity, and of natural marriage itself.

Here is a sneak preview of the new program, a 25-minute introduction that is worth watching even on its own. The full series, Discover Theology of the Body, will be released on Ash Wednesday, March 1.  Get 40% off by using the code TOB4LENT before March 8. And...thanks for sharing this info on your social media channels!

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