theology of the body

Interview with Contributor Anne M. Faye

Anne Faye, author of

Author Name: Anne M. Faye

Contribution to Image and Likeness: “The Walk”

Bio: Anne Faye is a homeschooling mom of three who writes from Western Massachusetts. A member of The Catholic Writers Guild, her novels include Through the Open Window, The Rose Ring, and Sunflowers in a Hurricane.  Find Anne on Twitter and Amazon.

About “The Walk”

What inspired you to write this piece?

“The Walk” grew out of a piece of shorter fiction written on the theme of solitude. In that piece, the two characters sat side by side on a bench, each reading a favorite book. When I expanded the piece, I discovered their backstories about what drew them to this place. Why were they there? What wounds were their souls carrying?

What drew you to writing about Theology of the Body in this way?

I think that Theology of the Body is a wonderful ideal, but the reality of life is that we usually can’t live up to that ideal. Marriage is hard; parenting is hard; losing the one you love is hard. This story is about two people at various stages of their marital journeys and the struggles that they are having.

There is a lot of nonfiction out there on TOB, but the amount of fiction and poetry on the subject is certainly on the rise.  What is it, do you think, about fiction and poetry that lend themselves to illustrating the tenets of the Theology of the Body?

Nonfiction can sometimes be very preachy whereas fiction and poetry can broach the topic in a gentler manner.

Some TOB stories and poems can be evangelization tools, and some can be messages of encouragement to those of us doing the evangelizing.  Which do you think yours is, and why do you think that’s valuable to its audience? 

It is an evangelization tool about valuing the relationships and family you do have and understanding that everyone we meet is carrying some sort of cross (even when we look at their lives and think that they have everything we want.)

Your story “The Walk” deals with two people who almost couldn’t be more different: a young, overwhelmed mother and an elderly widower.  What commonalities do you think these two characters share, and what do they have to teach us?

Both characters are hurting, albeit in very different ways. In this moment, they reach out to each other, providing compassion and care in an hour of need. Sometimes in life, God places you exactly where you need to be to touch another person’s life. You might never see that person again, but the moment stays with you forever.

Look for discussion questions on “The Walk” on Wednesday, December 28.

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Discussion: “Pear Trees” by Dena Hunt

dhunt200x200u“Pear Trees” by Dena Hunt

See our interview with Dena here.

Discussion Questions

  • Is it possible for an ordinary man in a business suit, wearing glasses and reading a newspaper to actually be a knight in shining armor?
  • When he defended the nameless girl, what was he defending?
  • How could that one act change the young woman’s life so dramatically?

Interview with Contributor Dena Hunt

dhunt200x200uAuthor Name: Dena Hunt

Contribution to Image and Likeness: “Pear Trees”

Bio: Dena Hunt is the author of the award-winning historical novels Treason (Sophia Institute Press) (IPPY Gold Medal 2015), and The Lion’s Heart (Full Quiver Publishing) (CALA 2016), as well as several short stories and reviews, online and in print, at Dappled Things, St. Austin Review, and The Pilgrim Journal. She also writes for FaithCatholic, a liturgical publication company. She is currently working on her third novel. She is the book review editor of St. Austin Review. Find Dena on Amazon.

About “Pear Trees”

What inspired you to write this piece?

I became a Catholic while I was teaching at the University of New Orleans and then decided to return to my native rural Georgia, where I taught high school English for the next two decades. After retirement, I returned to teaching in college. It was my students here at the university who inspired me to write “Pear Trees.”

How did you find yourself inspired to write this/these piece(s)?

I observed the young women I taught, their veiled fears and confusions. A lot was gained by the feminist movement, but a lot was lost, and young women today have no reference point for those losses.   

What drew you to writing about Theology of the Body in this way?

I didn’t write about Theology of the Body. I wrote a story about what is happening to women, to femininity itself. Abortion is part of it. So is the loveless sex so common now. So many young women unknowingly participate in their own degradation.    

There is a lot of nonfiction out there on TOB, but the amount of fiction and poetry on the subject is certainly on the rise.  What is it, do you think, about fiction and poetry that lend themselves to illustrating the tenets of the Theology of the Body?

It’s the same distinction that has always existed. Nonfiction, beautifully written or not, gives us facts or information; theories, philosophies, or opinions. Only fiction and poetry show us the truth. Paradoxical, yes, but after all, Christ himself used stories to tell truth.

Some TOB stories and poems can be evangelization tools, and some can be messages of encouragement to those of us doing the evangelizing.  Which do you think yours is, and why do you think that’s valuable to its audience?

I can’t answer that, because, as I said, I simply told a story about a young woman. I had no other purpose.

There is something mysterious that occurs between writer and reader. It’s the same mystery that happens when we look at what we know to be art, and it’s the same with music. One sees it, hears it, reads it, and recognizes it. Just as Christ taught the parables: Those who have ears to hear do indeed hear. All art is evangelical because all art is concerned with truth.

Talk to us about the significance of the title “Pear Trees.”  What parallels do you see between the pear trees that give this piece its name and the culture of the younger people shown in the story?

The trees are hybrid, “artificial,” bred as a landscaping device, to create an appearance; there is no “messy fruit” that would spoil the setting. Just so, our modern secular culture attempts to eliminate nature, and natural law.

Look for discussion questions on “Pear Trees” on Wednesday, December 22.

Interview with Contributor R. Elaine Westphal

authorimageplaceholderAuthor Name: R. Elaine Westphal

Contribution to Image and Likeness: “My Pot of Gold”

Bio: R. Elaine Westphal holds a BA degree in English Education, is retired from a career in supervisory management and is currently an active community volunteer. She enjoys quilting, singing, classic movies, and relaxing to classical music. Nature walks are her inspiration for her creative writing. Along with writing poetry, she also enjoys writing articles about local history and nature subjects.

How did you find yourself inspired to write this piece?

One of my favorite ways to be inspired to write is to commune with nature. My daily walks give me solitude and peace to reflect on and/or create new ideas.  Everything has been created by God and since mankind is made in God’s image and likeness, one not only relates to the “seen” but also the emotions of the heart—the “unseen.”

There is a lot of nonfiction out there on TOB, but the amount of fiction and poetry on the subject is certainly on the rise.  What is it, do you think, about fiction and poetry that lend themselves to illustrating the tenets of the Theology of the Body?

Fiction and poetry often reveal and express the emotional side of a person.  Nonfiction gives us the theory, but fiction and poetry plays out this theory in daily living circumstances and feelings that make the whole notion a three-dimensional experience.

Some TOB stories and poems can be evangelization tools, and some can be messages of encouragement to those of us doing the evangelizing.  Which do you think yours is, and why do you think that’s valuable to its audience?

I believe my poem is an evangelization tool.  In the search for “rainbows” in our lives, their beauty can be found in nature in any season, but the real and only place to find “rainbows’ a promise of hope, is in our hearts.  There we experience all our emotions and from that, grow in gratitude for God’s care, blessings and goodness we have all received.

In your poem “My Pot of Gold,” you illustrate the role human suffering plays in personal growth.  What part does the value of suffering play in how we live the Theology of the Body?

“My Pot of Gold” also has a more subtle approach to value of suffering and searching for inner peace.  In our youth, we try to find all our happiness externally of ourselves. As we grow more mature, we see that the real peace comes from within.  Instead of self-fulfilled enjoyment, we see more value in the love we have in our hearts that we can share with others.  Then we find that because we’ve searched inside ourselves, we can love one another with the dignity God has endowed each of us with.

What’s another story or poem in this anthology that spoke to you?  What in particular in that piece reached out to you?

Being a cancer survivor, the struggles portrayed in “Victorious” by Kathy Huth Jones really touched me.  She so aptly portrayed the human suffering experience of facing your own mortality and finally coming to grips with the way suffering can bring one to a deeper level of the bond of love that already existed.

Discussion: “Full Reversal” and “Made for Love” by Theresa Linden

tlinden200x200“Full Reversal” and “Made for Love” by Theresa Linden

See our interview with Theresa here.

Discussion Questions

 

  • How important is it for Catholics to understand the Church’s teachings on contraception, sterilization, and homosexual behavior?
  • What responsibility does a person have to be able to share this teaching with others, and is the responsibility greater for bishops and priests than for the laity?
  • How does a society benefit from cooperating with the teaching of the Theology of the Body?

 

 

Interview with Contributor Theresa Linden

tlinden200x200Author Name: Theresa Linden

Contributions to Image and Likeness: “Full Reversal,” “Made for Love”

Bio: Theresa Linden is the author of the Chasing Liberty dystopian trilogy and a series of Catholic teen fiction. Raised in a military family, she developed a strong patriotism and a sense of adventure. Her Catholic faith inspires the belief that there is no greater adventure than the reality we can’t see, the spiritual side of life. A member of the Catholic Writers Guild and the International Writers Association, Theresa also holds a Catechetical Diploma from the Catholic Distance University. She lives in northeast Ohio with her husband, their three adopted boys, and their dog Rudy. Find Theresa on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Amazon.

About “Full Reversal” and “Made for Love”

How did you find yourself inspired to write these pieces?

Pope Saint John Paul II has become one of my favorite saints, in part, due to his amazing way with words. His teaching on the Theology of the Body is incredibly deep and rich, and I believe it has the power to change the heart and mind of a person and even entire cultures. When I learned that Full Quiver Publishing intended to create an anthology of short fiction and poetry reflecting this teaching, story ideas came to my mind. There are so many directions a writer can take using this theology, but I wanted to address topics that are difficult for many in today’s culture to accept.

What drew you to writing about Theology of the Body in this way?

I wrote “Full Reversal” setting it in the future and using characters from my dystopian trilogy because I think it’s important to consider the future ramifications of today’s choices and ideologies. When a society allows practices that are contrary to the moral law, separating love from life and viewing sex as only for pleasure, it affects the way individuals see one another. There are also long-term effects to the individual and to society as a whole. A dystopian story is a great way to show this and to demonstrate the benefit of cooperating with God’s beautiful plan for men and women, love and life.

Theology of the Body is for everyone, including those weighed down by great temptations. “Made for Love” addresses the call to love for those who struggle with same-sex attraction. We don’t help a person when we deny the sinfulness of actions. Rather, we keep the sinner from repentance, joy, and the pursuit of holiness to which everyone is called. I wrote this story from a priest’s point of view, in part, to draw attention to the need for bishops, priests, and spiritual directors to speak the truth with charity and clarity. No matter the cross we carry or the temptations we face, the truth is written in our hearts and in our bodies, and we are all made for true love.

There is a lot of nonfiction out there on TOB, but the amount of fiction and poetry on the subject is certainly on the rise.  What is it, do you think, about fiction and poetry that lend themselves to illustrating the tenets of the Theology of the Body?

While nonfiction often uses arguments and evidence, fiction has the power to transport the reader into someone else’s life for a while. A story with characters that have strengths, weaknesses, and challenges that people can identify with, along with the message of truth weaved into the plot, has the potential to reach into a reader’s heart and help them to see something new. The Theology of the Body is not merely a dry teaching to be understood but something we each live. What better way to illustrate this than with characters living it out, growing in their understanding through failures and triumphs?

Some TOB stories and poems can be evangelization tools, and some can be messages of encouragement to those of us doing the evangelizing.  Which do you think yours are, and why do you think that’s valuable to its audience?

My stories are meant to be tools of evangelization. Today’s culture presents a false view of love, compassion, and sexuality, making the Theology of the Body all the more necessary. While most Catholics may know the moral teachings of the church, polls show the majority of them do not agree with the Church on issues such as homosexuality, contraception, and sterilization. Sadly, most of us hear nothing on these subjects in Sunday homilies. So I hope that my stories, and the others in this anthology, will bring parts of this teaching to life for our readers.

“Full Reversal” is written to show the importance of respecting the design of the human body to the individual, families, and society. “Made for Love” is written with true compassion for those struggling with same-sex attractions, showing that God’s call to holiness is for all, that he is with us even in our brokenness, and that the single life is also a reflection of God’s self-donating love. I hope my stories will challenge readers to embrace and proclaim the truth, even when it’s countercultural.

In “Full Reversal,” you show us a world that has taken the current contraceptive culture to its logical ends… and then beyond it, to a “what happens now?” What do you think it would take for our world to prevent itself from going as far as the world you created in this story?

In America and throughout the world, we find falling population rates, declining morals, and an attack on the traditional family unit. A great darkness has fallen, seeming to encompass all. On the other hand, there is worldwide concern for the environment and the care of creation. If this concern could stretch to include humanity, the jewel in the crown of creation, through respecting the design of the human body in its maleness and femaleness and “the language of the body” expressed in the marriage covenant, light would come into our dark world. Pope Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body is a timely instrument in this battle for the soul of the individual, our society, and our world. Wanting the truth of His Love to be accessible to all, God has written it in our hearts and bodies, even before He built His Church to proclaim it. Jesus Christ calls believers to be the light in this dark world. The more Christians educate themselves and personally embrace this teaching, the more this light will spread, and the bleak future portrayed in “Full Reversal” can be avoided. I believe the shepherds have the greater responsibility to proclaim the truth, especially on moral issues that stand in stark contrast to the mores of our dark culture. But the laity too… each one of us is called to bring the light.

In “Longing for Love/Made for Love,” you use a lot of images of broken, reflective surfaces.  What do you think those images convey to the reader?

We’ve all inherited fallen human nature. As a result, we often hurt one another and ourselves and sometimes in deep ways that warp our views of self, other, life and love. Too often we add to this hurt by our own sinful choices and we find ourselves broken and shattered. This is what the broken images in “Made for Love” are meant to convey. Sometimes a person feels too messed up to ever be made right again. The reflective surfaces are meant to convey hope. God is always there with His grace and love, the light shining on our brokenness, ready to turn us into something beautiful again. We need only to turn to Him. He can make all things new.

What’s another story or poem in this anthology that spoke to you?  What in particular in that piece reached out to you?

I just finished reading an advanced copy of this anthology. Wow! Every story and poem brings out a different aspect of the rich teaching of the Theology of the Body. I am humbled to have my stories included. So many pieces spoke to me and made me ponder. I find it hard to choose only one to mention, but I’ll share my thoughts on “The Walk” by Anne Faye.

This story touched me in several ways. For one, my husband and I spent the first several years of our marriage childless. The desire for children came gradually, but then it hit hard. It formed an ache that became almost unbearable. The Theology of the Body teaches that God’s love is revealed in the union and fruitfulness of a married couple. Where does the infertile couple fit in this theology?

“The Walk” showed that while pain and a feeling of being incomplete come with infertility, there is also life-giving love that transcends the biological. And the message is perhaps even clearer that we will never find complete fulfillment in this world; we were made for the next.

Over time, my husband and I realized we were called to adoption. We adopted three boys, one with autism and another with radical attachment disorder. Like Sarah in the story, the challenges I faced as a young mom were at times overwhelming, the feelings of being inadequate, lonely, and—I know we shouldn’t, but—comparing myself to other moms.

I love how this story made me think of both the joys and trials of motherhood and also being married and unable to conceive. The Christian couple waits on the Lord, open to life which is a gift of God, growing in trust when they do not receive it, and living in hope for the fulfillment that comes only in the eternal. As John Paul II wrote on his reflection of Song of Songs, “Love is ever seeking and never satisfied.”

 

 Look for discussion questions on “Full Reversal” and “Made for Love” on Wednesday, December 7.

Discussion: “Movements” by Michelle Buckman

mbuckman200x200“Movements” by Michelle Buckman

See our interview with Michelle here.

Discussion Questions

  • If you were in Gert’s situation, what would you have done?
  • Did Gert’s pregnancy influence your reaction to how she handles the kitten?
  • How do you think this experience impacted Dottie?