Over 500 eager Catholics flocked to All Saints Liverpool at the invitation of the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation, to hear world-renowned Catholic theologian, Dr Christopher West enlighten his audience on the spiritual teachings of St John Paul II.
The 20 January session, a one-night presentation called “Male and Female He Created Them: Rediscovering Authentic Masculinity and Femininity” saw attendees from all over Sydney gather to hear West teach St John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.
Theology of the Body is the sainted pope’s analysis of human sexuality, delivered in 129 lectures he gave as pope, between 1979 and 1984.
Rounding off the Archdiocese of Sydney’s “Summer Series,” which has seen sold out talks and events led by fellow international speakers Matt Fradd and Jason Evert, Dr West sought to answer any confusion about gender with a question:
“Haven’t you read that in the beginning God made them male and female?”
Quakers Hill dad Luke Caufield attended with his teenage children Dominic and Charlotte.
“When we found out Christopher West was in town, we were very excited. I’ve seen Christopher West before and it was just amazing, so I’ve brought the kids to hear his message to help them navigate these hard times,” Luke said.
For two hours, Dr West held his audience spellbound, combining his deep knowledge of Theology of the Body with humour and music to reveal the “true meaning of our bodies as male and female.”
In simple, engaging terms, West broke down how this seminal work reveals God’s plan for man and woman.
He explained how it reveals the true difference between the “theological and biological idea of the body” and how it explains the “divine story” of our bodies. Dr West constantly challenged his audience with questions that delved into the mysterious “beginning” of man and woman and explored what went wrong since.
He revealed how these teachings help us rediscover the original and glorious meaning of our creation as a male or a female.
West explained that in a world with over 80 gender options “we don’t know what male and female mean” and that we “must have the courage to come into the light.”
He showed how “we live in a world that trains us to look but not see”, how we “objectify” the body and how St John Paul’s work teaches us that “Christianity is perfect beauty manifested in the human body.”
He compared the Theology of the Body to “a pair of glasses where we start to see the whole world in the right way, where the world becomes sacramental.”
When we learn to see our bodies as a “sacrament,” we see that “nothing is as sacred as the human body.”
Audiences were clearly moved and inspired as they emerged from the church.
Rana Baraz attended with her teenage son Elie, and said her “heart was on fire” after listening to Dr West.
“In this day and age, we feel as parents, as Catholic parents, we are paddling against the currents. We’re really trying to fight the good fight and I’m hoping that for Elie tonight that he will be enriched to be able to pass on this message to his friends at school,” said Rana.
For Elie, tonight’s talk went even further.
“I think it’s really opened my eyes to a lot of things that aren’t related to Theology of the Body, like putting your phone down and just seeing the beauty of the world, you know, seeing what God has made and treasuring it and really being in touch with the world,” he said.
“We are ending our ‘Summer Series’ with a bang, with Dr West tonight,” said Hazel Lim, Mission Manager from the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation.
“It’s amazing that 80-90 per cent of the audience are hearing Dr West for the first time! That’s really our point here.
“It’s about really nourishing these parents and teenagers. Their faces are just lit up, hearing these profound messages that are based on truth. Truths that they need to hear.
“And I pray that the fruits of tonight event will continue for many, many more years to come.”