Third Place - $100 Scholarship
Name: Michelle Roy
School: Incarnate Word Academy,
Lessons on Love and Lust
“Kiss me, ki-ki-kiss me. Infect me with your love and fill me with your poison. Take me ta-ta-take me. Wanna be a victim, ready for abduction”. These are the song lyrics from the pop tune “E.T.” by Katy Perry. As the number two song this week, it is played regularly on the radio. In modern society, words like these are not considered especially bad. Sex and love today are talked about, sung about, and written about in an extremely crass manner. Teens today are constantly being bombarded with messages like that in the song, messages of the casualness of sex, sex as an entirely physical thing, and all that matters is our own selfish wants. Fortunately, there are people who know better than this and are not afraid to share what they know. The Theology of the Body for Teens program has made a difference in countless adolescents’ lives, including my own. While I have never been really far from God or the Catholic Church’s teachings, Theology of the Body opened my eyes to God’s plan for sexuality in an entirely new way. Theology of the Body for Teens has helped me realize that I believe the things I do for good reasons, the beauty of vocations, and that my efforts to live a pure, holy life in modern society are not in vain.
Through the Theology of the Body I understand the “why” behind the Church’s teachings on sex and other things. As a Catholic teenager I already realized that sex was supposed to wait until marriage, contraceptives were wrong, and that only men can be priests. I accepted this as the truth and lived by it, but if someone would have asked me why, I do not think that I would have been able to give a good answer. I now know that the reason that the Church does not allow sex before marriage is because sex is supposed to be free, total, faithful and fruitful. Outside of marriage there is no possibility of this happening. How can you be free if you are scared that your parents will find out? Or faithful if you know you will probably end up marrying someone else? You simply cannot. As to the issue of contraception, it violates the total and fruitful parts of the teaching. Contraceptives do not allow people to give themselves entirely or to produce children which is the real reason for sex, procreation. A friend of mine asked me why women could not be priests not a week after we had learned this in the Theology of the Body program. I was so happy to be able to tell him clearly and simply why. This gave me confidence in myself and the Church while affirming my own belief as well. I realized that while society seems to have all the reasons behind why you should have sex and why people should be able to do whatever they want, all of those reasons are superficial. When compared with the solid and beautifully thought- through reasons of the Catholic Church for why not to, the reasons of society seem insignificant. Thanks to the Theology of the Body I felt a sense of pride and ownership in the view of the Catholic Church, because I understood it and it was my own.
Theology of the Body made me realize the beauty of vocations to the religious life. I was initially surprised that the series discusses vocations, since I thought it would be all about sex and purity but, it makes so much sense that it was covered. Society today tells people that they have two options: to get married or be single for their entire life. While marriage and single life are both good and holy lifestyles, something that society does not address is the choice of vocations to the religious life. I see now the impact that the presence of religious have on my life and the lives of others, whether they realize it or not. I noticed this in the beautiful section about vocations in which the video portion was particularly compelling, especially the testimonies of the religious sisters. Another thing the program showed me is the beauty of the vocation of Blessed John Paul II, and through him what an impact one holy person who listens to God’s calling can have. I have found that vocations are a relevant life choice that can make a change in the world in spite of society’s dismissal of this option. Consequently, I am more joyful in my responsibility as a Catholic to discern my vocation to the religious life, because I know I can make a real difference in that role.
Theology of the Body has helped me see that I am not alone in my efforts to live a pure, holy life in modern society. I have had a fairly sheltered upbringing, but with what I have seen and heard from peers, I still sometimes doubted if I was the only teenager alive that really wanted to show respect to others and receive it in return. I do not think that thought has crossed my mind since taking the Theology of the Body for Teens course. I now see that while many people are not living how the Church would have them live, there are some who, like me, are doing their very best to do so. This is tremendous encouragement and motivates me to try even harder. A lot of times companies in the media try to make it seem like everyone is living immorally and you are foolish if you are not doing the same. This is not true. I am not a solitary person in a world of evil; I am part of a movement of teens that are living radically in a pure and dignified way. This realization has changed the way I look at the world and I cannot help but be immensely grateful that I have been blessed with this new perspective through Theology of the Body.
Theology of the Body for Teens has helped me realize that I believe the things I do for good reasons, the beauty of vocations, and that my efforts to live a pure, holy life in modern society are not in vain. I see myself now as a powerful individual with a great mission in the world. How I achieve my mission is up to God, but I know that whether I get married or have a religious vocation, I will be able to make a difference. Theology of the Body has helped me see that my Catholic faith and human sexuality are not something that should be kept taboo; rather, they should be viewed with joy and a sense of dignity. Despite the constant bombardment of youth today with crass messages about sex and marriage, I believe that the world can be changed for the better. As young Catholics today, we need to stand up and show what we believe. In the words of Blessed John Paul II, we need to “be not afraid” because what we know through Theology of the Body is beautiful and should be shared.