“Is masturbation a sin?”
“How can Mary be the mother of Jesus and also his bride?”
“Why is a tattoo not a good thing to place on your body?”
“Why are charms and superstitions not good?”
“Did Cain marry his sister?”
“Why is not religiously good for single old people to marry late in life?”
These were some of the questions placed to the presenter, Andrew Kong, when he came to conduct the formation on the Theology of the Body (TOB) at the Church of Divine Mercy (CDM), Penang. The formation was carried on over the weekend of the 23rd -24th April to a group of 64 adults comprising of single adults and married couples. This teaching of Pope St. John Paul II on Theology of the Body was co-ordinated by the Family Life Ministry of CDM.
Andrew Kong, from Singapore, was specially invited to conduct this formation. He has had the experience of giving numerous similar presentations in the Asia Pacific region. He is a certified student of the Theology of the Body Institute (USA) and a qualified facilitator of the A New Language program (on the Theology of the Body). In addition, he is also a fellow of the Roman Theological Forum and a member of the Centre for Theological Studies on Faith and Culture (affiliated with the Catholic Theological Institute of Singapore).
In this formation he conducted a series of ten sessions where he first gave an overview of TOB. In his introduction he gave a comprehensive talk on God, Sex, & Meaning of Life. He related Pope St John Paul II’s approach to TOB based on the teaching on love, life and human sexuality. His main reference was from the book by Christopher West. This book was later given out after this formation. He explained God’s original plan for us and spousal meaning of the body. He went on the elaborate on Sin and Redemption in relation to adultery, Christian ethos and matured purity of heart. He also said that Resurrection was our Destiny and that heaven is an experience of body and soul. He explained the difference between Idols and Icons and the Communion of Saints. He gave an extensive explanation of Celibacy with the example of Mary and Joseph and consecrated religious. In the two sessions on Marriage he explained the sacrament in terms of nuptial relationships with acronym FTFF (Free, Total, Faithful, Fruitful). The last two sessions were on the 1968 Church document Humanae Vitae(Of Human Life) and on Evangelization.
The participants were amused by the various engaging strategies used by Andrew to put forward his points. These included videos, open discussions on sensitive questions and even magic shows.
Simultaneously, 38 youths had their Theology of the Body session facilitated by Eddy DeSouza on the same weekend. Over the past few years, Eddy had the experience of conducting the Theology of the Body formation in his parish of St Anne in Bukit Mertajam. Youths ranging from age group as young as 15 to 21 years participated in this formation. Along with Eddy there were 12 other youth helpers to assist him in coordinating the various activities. This formation was indeed an eye-opener for many youths and they had a deeper understanding on how theology is connected with the body and how valuable is God’s precious gift to them.
Janey Tan Bruyns
4th May, 2016