Jason Evert’s latest book presented the author with a sizeable challenge: pare five years’ worth of papal wisdom into something a lay person could quickly grasp and share.
What’s more, to be relevant, it had to appeal to a few generations of readers. Some were around for St. John Paul II’s original series of Wednesday audiences that came to be known as “Theology of the Body.”
Author: Jason Evert
Publisher: Totus Tuus Press
Length: 144 pages
Release Date: Dec. 21, 2017
Also try: Kino Library
Others were too young or perhaps not even Catholic at the time. Still others were born a decade or more later and might not know about the pope’s wisdom. Above all, it had to appeal to an audience not willing or able to devote a long time to turning pages — or turning virtual ones via a “swipe.”
Evert had some Holy Spirit help on his side. It was clear the world, especially older teens and beyond, needed a gentle invitation to learn the richness of Theology of the Body and its message was directly from a pope who had a rapport with youth, even today.
Evert, who once again lives in the Diocese of Phoenix, had a rapport with youth, too, as well as parish leaders. It goes back 20 years to his time at Catholic Answers and the last 14 as co-founder of the Chastity Project. All told, Evert and his wife, Crystalina, have easily spoken to more than 1 million people on six continents — including a recent trip to the Land Down Under — about chastity.
When done through prayer, all these behind-the-scenes factors and challenges evolved into a 144-page book with a time commitment built into the title: “Theology of the Body in One Hour.”
Evert thought a “one-hour treatment” of Theology of the Body would be more accessible to the common Catholic, especially those seeking a resource to share with others not familiar with the teaching. The brief peek can also respectfully share the Church’s teachings on human sexuality, gender, family planning and the meaning of marriage, all of which are under attack like never before, Evert said.
“As I see it, the Church is a bride. If her beauty is unveiled, it will speak for itself,” he said.
“The Church cannot afford for John Paul II’s contribution to wane. In many respects, St. John Paul II was a visionary who saw decades in advance what the culture would need today, as an antidote to the confusion about what it means to be made male and female.”
“Theology of the Body in One Hour” gently clarifies this “confusion” in six chapters, just like St. John Paul II’s work. Each also contains two parts: one that focuses on three Scriptural passages containing the “words” of Christ and another that analyzes “The Sacrament” which is the “great sign” of Christ’s love for the Church and the love between a husband and wife, Evert wrote in the introduction.
Theology of the Body experts, including Dr. Michael Waldstein, who translated the pope’s original version, Christopher West and the diocese’s own Katrina Zeno who leads the John Paul II Resource Center for Theology of the Body and Culture, offered their feedback in the book’s editing stages.
It has been available to the public since December with other publishers already asking to translate it internationally. Perhaps, better yet, readers are soaking up its wisdom. A college student even offered a short online review.
Another wrote: “I have attempted several sources on this subject as a layperson, but none have as effectively conveyed the power and the beauty of the message of the Theology of the Body as this book does in so quick a span of time and reading.”
What matters more than reading the hour-long version or the pope’s 500-page one is living it in their vocations, Evert said. “After all, the greatest way to promote the Theology of the Body is to live it.”