The Rosary and TOB: Exploring More Deeply the Mystery of Man

by Debbie Staresinic (Guest post for Christopher West’s COR Project)

Many who are familiar with Theology of the Body (TOB) know that St. John Paul II identified the problem with the modern world as a fundamental lack of understanding of the meaning and purpose of the human person. Said differently, if we don’t know who we are and why we’re here, we’re going to have a difficult time reaching our true destination. To fill that gap and thus open up the mystery of man, the Holy Father wrote Theology of the Bodyand delivered it in the form of Wednesday audience addresses from 1979-1984.

Less well-documented is St. John Paul II’s belief in the value of the Rosary to more deeply explore these same truths. In his Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, Pope St. John Paul II wrote about the anthropological significance of the Rosary. He said, “Each mystery of the Rosary, carefully meditated, sheds light on the mystery of man.” Hence, we can perceive the mutual effect that the Rosary and TOB might have in aiding our understanding of the human person. This is what fueled a project to bring these two devotions together in the form of Theology of the Body Rosary meditations.

Many of us already have a devotion to the Rosary. Our Lady of Fatima, who identified herself as Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, asked us to pray the Rosary — every day. Since the Rosary is a powerful spiritual weapon through which countless miracles and victories have been won, let’s explore further how the Rosary prayed through the lens of TOB could bring about miracles and victories for the dignity of the human person.

In an interview with Cardinal Caffarra, founding president of the JPII Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, Fatima visionary Sr. Lucia prophesized “the final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be over marriage and family.” Sr. Lucia’s words seem to have been meant for us to read today. The attack on the triune-God has been gaining ground for years in the form of contraception, abortion, pornography, divorce, same-sex union and more recently under the guise of gender ideology.

The abuse scandal within the Church is bitter fruit of this attack.

In Theology of the Body, St. John Paul II revealed to us how marriage and celibacy are two sides of a coin. Both involve sacramental vows; both demand a sincere and fruitful gift of self. Just as husbands and wives promise to love and be faithful to one another, priests and bishops promise to embody Christ’s love for His Bride, the Church. A world that so willfully supports a disordered view of God’s plan for man and woman in marriage must eventually find itself confronted with a crisis of spiritual leadership. In a recent article in The Catholic Thing, Dr. Carrie Gress writes “When the fundamental piece of society – the family – has been shredded, it shouldn’t surprise us to see similar fallout in the Church. We expect bishops to know better, and to be holy and good, but they too are a product of our torn-asunder culture.”

We must help the world and each other to reclaim our identity and dignity as sons and daughters of God and embrace His loving plan for us. This conviction inspired the creation of the TOB Rosary project and the following two books of Rosary meditations based on Theology of the Body.

On a Mission to Love: Rosary Meditations for Children and Families has as its goal to help people of all ages cultivate a daily habit of praying the Rosary. Its decade-a-day format demands less than five minutes, making it a practical tool for busy lifestyles and busy school days. One-line meditations following each Hail Mary employ scriptural stories of Jesus and Mary to illuminate the meaning and purpose of the human person.

Theology of the Body Rosary Meditations: Contemplating Christ’s Love for His Bride the Church offers a deeper theological perspective on TOB. The theme of God’s spousal love is central, echoing the love story of the Bible: the profound truth that God wants to marry us.

Each book offers rich meditation on the mysteries of the rosary while contemplating more deeply the truths of Theology of the Body and the mystery of man.

As we continue to defend truth in the battle for marriage and family let us remember the words that St. John Paul II so boldly proclaimed: “Be not afraid.” We have been given the tools to win and have good reason to be filled with hope. Scripture promises us that in the end the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church; Mary promises us that in the end her Immaculate Heart with triumph. So, let us unite and beg the intercession of Pope St. John Paul II. Let us place ourselves under the loving guidance and protection of our Blessed Mother, trusting confidently in her promise.

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Photo: L’Osservatore Romano

Debbie Staresinic is a Catholic speaker and author, and is the founder of TOB Rosary. She is a graduate of the Theology of the Body Institute in Philadelphia and serves on the Board of Directors at Ruah Woods in Cincinnati. Debbie is a wife, mother and grandmother. To learn more about TOB Rosary and to purchase her books you may go here.

You can follow/like TOB Rosary on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Debbie may be reached by email here.

A Gift for You!

Imagine placing this little prayer beside your child’s bed as a loving reminder of who they are and why God made them.

We are delighted to offer this print as a complement to our newest book.
On a Mission to Love: Rosary Meditations for Children and Families
Rooted in St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body (TOB) this little devotional awakens young hearts to the joy of being created in the image and likeness of God.

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The Father’s Love Revealed in the Body

Image Credit: Carrie Gress

Mary laid Jesus in a manger, a feeding trough, as a hint that one day He would be bread for the world.  Moreover, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a town whose name means “House of Bread.”

Scripture is filled with signs and symbols foreshadowing the Good News of the Gospel. Carefully construed, every detail has meaning. Each event leads to the next as the story of the Father’s love for His children unfolds.

The Catechism teaches that signs and symbols occupy an important place in human life. As Catholics we believe that everything in the universe is an embodiment of God’s love. A sunset, a mountain, a flower, a leaf, a tiny insect, even a grain of sand, are all expressions of the Father. Made in His image, the human person above all creation most clearly reflects God’s love to the world.

Put another way, the body is a sign of God.

“The body, in fact, and only the body, is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine. It has been created to transfer into the visible reality of the world the mystery hidden from eternity in God, and thus to be a sign of it.” (TOB 19:4)

In short, there is a theology to our bodies that offers hints of God’s loving plan for us. Furthermore, the one flesh union of husbands and wives is the greatest sign on Earth of God’s love for us and our call to union with Him. St. Paul speaks of this mystery in his letter to the Ephesians.

“For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the Church.” (Eph, 5:31-32)

John Paul II brings this mystery to life in his prophetic teaching Theology of the Body. Marriage, he explains, is a sign of the Christ’s love for the Church, which is a sign of the Trinitarian Mystery of God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the Mystery of God.

“God has revealed His innermost secret: God Himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and he has destined us to share in that exchange.” (CCC 221)

The love between the Father and the Son is so great and so powerful that it creates a third person, the Holy Spirit. Thus, it becomes clear how God created marriage as a sign of His faithful and fruitful love. The love between a husband and wife is so great and so powerful that in the normal course of events it produces a third person.

Made in God’s image, we participate in God’s love in a distinct way. We are the only creatures able to consciously cooperate with His loving, life-giving, act of creation. Our male and female bodies are an integral part of this design. There are no coincidences with God.

On this Octave day of Christmas let us ask Mary our Mother, the Mother God, to help us gaze upon the love of the Father revealed in the Infant asleep in the manger. Let us also ask for the eyes to see the Mystery of God revealed in our own bodies. May we “treasure these things and reflect on them in our hearts.” (Luke 2:19)

Abundant peace and blessings to you throughout the New Year!

Fun fact: The baby Jesus in the photo above belongs to Carrie Gress. It was first given to Pope John Paul II who gave it to George Weigel who then gave it to Carrie. As Carrie says, “best regift ever.”



Coming soon….

Dear Rosary Friends,

If you are here then you are looking for the additional information promised in the book, On a Mission to Love.  Thank you for being among the first people to purchase this title.  We pray every day that you will obtain God’s grace from it.

We have not kicked off the blog yet.  We hope that you can be patient and continue to check back from time to time.  The challenges of getting this book out and managing it’s timely distribution have been a little bit greater than anticipated.

We will start blogging soon. In the mean time please follow us on instagram @missiontolove.

Thank you!