Thanks for joining us for CatholicMom's next installment of #TOBtalk, where we're discussing the impact John Paul II's Theology of the Body has had on us. Today, Charisse Tierney shares how she came to understand the beauty of her body thanks to Theology of the Body.

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I sat at the computer in the Conservatory’s library and knew I had struck gold. 

I was recently engaged and busy planning a summer wedding while my fiancé and I completed our graduate studies. I had enjoyed leafing through bridal magazines, dreaming about the perfect gown, and choosing my “colors,” but the time had come to make an important decision. 

How were my future husband and I going to approach family planning?

As a cradle Catholic, I had heard of natural family planning, but only in the context of a dated video shown to a group of snickering PSR students while an instructor stood awkwardly by. My parents had taught me to abstain until marriage, and thankfully I had been obedient to their wishes--but what then? What is the meaning of that abstinence--and what is the meaning of its cessation once you’re married? How can the rest of the world be so wrong in its perception of the meaning of sex--and how can I get it right? Obedience to moral teachings is effective to a certain degree, but my unanswered questions left too much room for immoral justification.

So when I started reading information about natural family planning on the Couple to Couple League’s website, I was captivated. I printed page after page for my fiancé to read. The other students in the library started to look askance at me as I ran off to the printer time and time again to retrieve my papers.

Pages of sample charts, symbols, and explanations were interesting, but it wasn’t the technicalities of NFP that was capturing my attention. It was the glistening thread of the Theology of the Body that was woven throughout. Suddenly, planning for the intimacy of the marital union wasn’t just promising to satisfy my longing for my future husband--it was promising to satisfy my deepest needs as a human being. My need for authentic love, real intimacy, a faithful relationship, and a tangible taste of the glories of God. 

The Theology of the Body taught my husband and me that the purpose of marriage and sex is not just to populate the world or just to enjoy the interconnection of one-flesh union. The purpose is “both and.” The purpose is multi-dimensional. The purpose images the divinity of the Trinity. Every time we come together freely, without reservation, totally and completely ready to give ourselves away to one another with an openness to God’s plan for our family, we radiate the Love of the Cross. We image the Love of a Father and Son that begets the infinite fruitfulness of the Holy Spirit.

Natural family planning and the Theology of the Body had such a positive impact on our marriage, that we couldn’t not tell everyone about it. So my husband and I became certified natural family planning teachers through the Couple to Couple League, and we are blessed time and again to see how the Theology of the Body impacts the couples we teach. 

I’ve had a friend who was moved to tears and a complete conversion to the NFP lifestyle after reading the Theology of the Body for Beginners by Christopher West. We’ve had several students who discovered and resolved health problems through the use of NFP.  And after my own miscarriage, my knowledge of the Theology of the Body assured me that it was right and proper to grieve a little body that is often considered “not viable” and “disposable” by secular society.

The Theology of the Body isn’t just about sex. It is about everything we do with our bodies as we struggle to act rightly upon the desires of our souls.

I often fail to live up to the message of the Theology of the Body, but it gives me something to strive for. It is my road map. It tells me what to do with this body God gave me as a temple for my soul. It is endlessly fascinating and filled with moments of revelation. It shapes the way I teach my children and gives me hope that they too will be inspired to strive for purity. 

The Theology of the Body gives us insight to the rules. It is the why of Church teaching on marriage, family life, purity, and chastity. The Theology of the Body has inspired my husband and me to strive not just for a good marriage, but for a holy marriage--an ideal that extends far beyond the bedroom.

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How has Theology of the Body impacted YOU?

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Join the discussion in person:

Inspired by the Jubilee Year of Mercy and last year’s Synod on the Family, the 2016 Theology of the Body Congress – an expansive gathering of top experts – will focus on how Theology of the Body and mercy play a vital role in how we live out family life. It will take place September 22-25, 2016 in southern California. Register here.

Sponsored by the Theology of the Body Institute, the 2016 International Theology of the Body Congress: Love, Mercy and the Gift of the Family will take place September 22-25 in Ontario, California at the Ontario Convention Center.

The Congress features an elite line up of speakers including Archbishop Jose Gomez, Christopher West, Dr. Edward Sri, Sr. Regina Marie Gorman, Jason Evert and Matt Fradd, and many more. Don't miss the in person discussions!

How has Theology of the Body impacted YOU? Join the discussion #TOBtalk

Copyright 2016 Charisse Tierney