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A ‘Christopher West’ for High Schoolers
BY FATHER WALTER SCHU, LC
the most common complaint of someone listening to Christopher West impart John
Paul II’s theology of the body? “If only I had known this years ago!” Through
his dynamic and clear presentation of John Paul’s compelling teachings on human
love and sexuality, Christopher West has been the instrument for changing
even West has limits: He speaks only to adults, college age and up.
the depths of John Paul II’s teachings, that is quite understandable. Perhaps
unavoidable. But what about all those teenagers out there who are beginning to
discover their own sexuality and make decisions which will stamp their future?
What if someone were to emerge who not only identified with them, but was also
audacious enough to bring the theology of the body directly to them?
has. His name is David Hajduk.
late 2006, the Daughters of St. Paul released his new book on the theology of
the body for young people, God’s Plan for You:
Life, Love, Marriage and Sex. The
book was born from a family life class for ninth graders in New Jersey, where
Hajduk began sharing John Paul’s insights into the true nature of human love.
delivered his classes with the unabashed enthusiasm of a teen. How did the
ninth graders respond? The truth of the Pope’s teachings struck a chord with
that noble idealism and natural optimism they had that is typical of youth.
Hajduk himself puts it, “Young people know the truth deep within their hearts —
there is an echo of God’s plan for life, love, marriage and sex within them.
When they hear something that synchronizes with that truth, it resounds in them
like a gong! They can taste it, touch it. They know it’s the real deal.”
years after that family life class, Hajduk had the occasion to teach some of
those same students when they were high school seniors. Here is how he
describes the experience: “Many times I would hear the ‘language’ of the theology
of the body surface in class discussions. It was both exhilarating and a
hopeful sign of the lasting impact John Paul II’s teachings had made on those
fruits of his classes made Hajduk want to reach even more young people with the
Pope’s transforming message. So he began to multiply his efforts by giving
talks to diverse groups of both young and older teens — and wrote a book.
God’s Plan for You (DavidHajduk.com) begins each chapter with a story.
scenes and Reese’s peanut butter cup commercials develop into key aspects of
the theology of the body. Things start off with the perennial questions
adolescents are beginning to address: “What is the purpose of life? What is
true happiness all about? How can I leave my mark on this world and change
things for the better?”
direct and fast-paced unfolding of the theology of the body provides answers to
these queries of the human spirit in nugget-sized chapters that can be grasped
hold of, then wondered at. “Lessons in Loneliness” ponders why God allowed Adam
to go through the experience of “original solitude.” Why did he at first create
Adam “alone,” even in the midst of all creation?
the divine pedagogy — God’s strategy — it became extremely clear to him that he
would only find happiness and fulfill the purpose of his existence by giving
himself away to someone ‘just like him.’ This was Adam’s deepest desire, and
just when he thought all was lost, God met that desire … and then some” (p.
the Spin Doctor” destroys the harmony of God’s original plan for man and woman,
leading our first parents to sin. What are some of the consequences of that
sin, in concrete terms, for teens today? “Girls confuse love for sex; guys
confuse sex for love. All too often, however, this confusion becomes a
source of selfish manipulation: Guys use love for sex; girls use sex for love.
And neither gets what they are looking for” (p. 93).
as young people naturally sense, human life is not an irreversible tragedy.
Christ has won the victory by his death and resurrection. He redeemed not only
our souls, but also our bodies, making it possible to conquer once again
authentic self-giving love between man and woman. We are presented with both
the gift and the task of living out in fullness the “spousal meaning of the
the exuberant response of young people to John Paul the Great’s message is not
just the product of youthful naïveté. It rests upon the most solid of
reflects on this fundamental optimism of youth: “They have hope for the future,
and a firm conviction that they can build a better world. John Paul II spoke of
this often with them at the World Youth Days. As a result, no matter the
brokenness they see around them or possibly even in their own homes, they
believe that ‘true love’ is possible, that a successful marriage and a happy
family is a dream that can come true.”
new book and his ministry to young people are steps toward building that better
world. They are helping the dream to come true in many young lives.
one book and one person are not nearly enough. A whole community is needed.
Hajduk leaves us with a challenge: “If we offer young people a community that
supports and encourages them, they do and will respond. They are hungry for
this stuff. In a way, it’s the answer to all their questions and hopes!”
Legionary Father Walter Schu is the
author of The Splendor of Love
(New Hope Press, 2003).