OcTOBer is Respect Life Month
October 11, 2023
Respect Life Month is an important time for Catholic educators to reflect on and promote the divine revelations that are safe guarded and promulgated by the Catholic Church regarding the dignity and sanctity of human life. It is certainly an opportunity to deepen your own understanding of the Theology of the Body (TOB) and its implications for your role as an educator. The Theology of the Body, as articulated by Pope St. John Paul II, offers a profound vision of the human person whose immortal identity is rooted in the truth of God’s creation and the teachings of His one holy, apostolic Church. Suitably, we have created a few different training and formation offerings for educators to meet your staff’s professional development needs.
In his 2003 encyclical Evangelium Vitae, Pope St. John Paul II called on Catholics to be active in promoting a culture of life in society. As Catholic educators, you have an exceptional opportunity to contribute to this mission by integrating the themes and messaging of the Theology of the Body into your Catholic school curriculum, no matter what subject you teach. TOB provides a comprehensive understanding of the human person, sexual identity, and the meaning of life, guiding your approach to the education and formation of your students. For example, eliciting classroom task helpers by asking, “Who would like to be a gift-of-self today by holding the door open for your classmates?”
TOB teaches us that the human person is created in the image and likeness of God, with a body and soul that are intimately connected (Pope Francis, 2019). This understanding challenges the prevailing cultural narratives that reduce the human person to a mere object, a collection of desires or a spirit “trapped” in a meaningless “container.” Educators are called to help students not only to recognize and embrace the inherent dignity of every person, regardless of their stage of life or abilities, but to receive God’s gift of their maleness or femaleness inextricably united in their unique body-soul combination.
Furthermore, one of the key teachings of the Theology of the Body is the complementarity of male and female (Congregation for Catholic Education, 2019). This teaching affirms the unique gifts and roles of boys/men and girls/women in the family and in the culture at large. As Catholic educators, you can teach your students about the beauty and significance of authentic love and relationships, inherent in the truth of God’s plan for His intentional sons and daughters.
TOB also emphasizes the importance of chastity and purity in our lives (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 2018), which are recurring themes in our curriculum beginning in the 7th grade. In a culture that often promotes a distorted view of the human person, it is crucial to help your students understand the true meaning, designed order, and purpose of their bodies, their identity, and of marriage and the family. By teaching them the value of self-regulation and the importance of respecting themselves and others, we can empower them to make choices that lead to true freedom and fulfillment.
Catholic teachers are called to be witnesses to the Gospel and to integrate your faith into every aspect of your work (Congregation for Catholic Education, 2017). TOB provides a rich theological framework that can steer your language and approach. By incorporating the principles and values of Pope St. John Paul II’s scriptural reflections into your teaching, you can help your students develop a holistic understanding of the human person along with a profound appreciation for their place in the world.
During Respect Life Month, you could engage your students in meaningful discussions and activities that promote a culture of life like inviting guest speakers, organizing prayer services, and facilitating conversations about the dignity of life. By doing so, you help your students to develop a deep respect for life from conception to natural death and inspire them to become advocates for the most vulnerable, exploited, defenseless, and marginalized in society today.
Respect Life Month is also a fitting time for Catholic educators to reflect on and promote an authentic Christian Anthropology. Every grade level of Ruah Woods’ K-12 curriculum contains lessons and activities that directly impart a respect for the inviolable dignity of every human life. By integrating these truths into your school, you can help your students develop a deep respect for the dignity and sanctity of all human life. TOB provides us with a comprehensive understanding of the human person, the complementarity of male and female, and the meaning of life, which enrich and strengthen your effectiveness in the formation of your students’ worldview and steadfast faith. Embrace this opportunity to be witnesses to the Gospel and to empower your students to accept the invitation to live out the truth of God’s plan for their lives.
Written by, Evie Estes,
Curriculum Production Manager, Editor, Sales & Website Support
of Ruah Woods Institute