BY MARIA BRANDELL
A Catholic author and speaker offered concrete examples of and tips for applying Theology of the Body to daily life when she addressed a crowd of Franciscan University students and faculty Oct. 6 in the Gentile Gallery.
“It’s a theology of the body not a theology of sex,” said Emily Stimpson, during her talk titled “How to Live Theology of the Body Everyday – Five Practical Tips That Will Change Your Life.”
Everyone has a deeply rooted desire for lasting love, said Stimpson, but reality is not always working out the way one wants. The principle reason for this is that love is hard, she said.
The message of Theology of the Body proclaims that the most perfect image of the Trinity on earth is the family and the love between husband and wife, but Stimpson reminded the crowd that this imaging of the Trinity, this self-giving love of God, must take place in everyday life and not just in the bedroom.
Stimpson’s first practical tip on living out Theology of the Body was to turn off one’s cellphone. Simply, people must recognize the dignity and beauty of those around them, and being inattentive to what is happening in the present moment directly inhibits the relationships that God wants them to have.
Next, she emphasized the importance of manners, noting that it is not the same thing as etiquette. She said manners develop little habits of sacrifice, of attentiveness, and they provide a way of welcoming and honoring the gifts of others. After all, Stimpson asked, if one cannot be kind to the clerk at the grocery store, how she be kind when her husband forgets their anniversary?
Her third tip was to take care of the body and recognize that it is a gift. She said that Theology of the Body teaches that humans are body and soul and that the body is not “like an iPhone case” that can be taken on and off. People must recognize that “the body is not a god to be worshipped but a temple to be cared for,” said Stimpson.
Next, Stimpson explained that one must rely on the sacraments, and she encouraged students to take advantage of the many sacramental opportunities on campus. In order to live Theology of the Body, one needs the grace of God because this self-giving love is too difficult to live by oneself.
Finally, her fifth and final tip was to slow down. In order to live out Theology of the Body, people need time to reflect, pray and really look at themselves. In the future, what is going to count is how people lived their vocation as a students, developed their spiritual lives and the real friendships they made – not the millions of activities they do.
Freshman Ellen Brough, who attended Stimpson’s talk said, “I think that when we think about Theology of the Body we definitely focus on the big stuff and the sexual stuff, and we definitely forget the day- to-day situations in which Theology of the Body applies. … I think this is a very applicable talk to my life, and I’m really excited to implement this in my life in the future.”
Stimpson holds a graduate degree in theology from Franciscan University and has authored three books. She frequently blogs and speaks as well as writes for Franciscan Way and other Catholic magazines.