Calix Thursday Night Zoom Room: Recovering With Theology of the Body

I discovered the Calix Society in February of 2022. Within days I connected with a friend in that fellowship that also loved St. John Paul II's great work on human anthropology known as "A Theology of the Body" (TOB). Together we established a Thursday night Calix Zoom meeting for the purpose of drawing out the implications of TOB for those of us in recovery from one or more addictions.

What exactly is Theology of the Body?

It is an all encompassing Bible study delving deeply into human anthropology that is hard to capture in any sort of pithy summary.  Nevertheless every Thursday evening around 8pm EST we read the following summary statement:

Theology of the Body is the collected teaching of our beloved St. John Paul II. It is an extended Bible Study on what it means to be created as male and female human beings. It was delivered in his Wednesday Teaching Audiences from 1979 – 1984.  (Collected in the book you see pictured here: Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body.)

TOB can be summed up in five powerful and rather startling words that express the heart of the gospel message:  God wants to Marry us!  Yes, God is our Creator, Father, Shepherd, King, Friend, Counselor and Guide… all of these are true, but the boldest word picture throughout scripture points to God as our Spouse. Jesus is our Bridegroom and humanity is His bride, if, of course, we accept his marriage proposal. This is not a shotgun wedding.

TOB redeems human sexuality and raises it as the highest icon of God’s love for us. How does this speak to those struggling with addictions? For starters, wouldn't it be grand if real joy and intimate connection with God could displace some of the manufactured joy and false connections that our addictions have provided?

It is precisely with this in mind that we in the Calix Society are focusing this meeting on becoming familiar with TOB by reading and discussing appropriate documents and books for that purpose. Many people have found it to be a true game changer in their recovery and spiritual growth in general. Such is our hope as well.

Since this meeting began in May of 2022 we have covered several documents. The group agreed that it might be beneficial to list all that we've discussed thus far both for our own reference and for newcomers that may want to catch up.


Summer 2022: We read and discussed Bill Donaghy's TOB presentation to The Calix Society.

Seeing that the original TOB document is incredibly dense (seriously, you need a theological dictionary and a good course in philosophy to unpack it on your own) we thought it would be better to start off with something more approachable.

A little bit of research revealed that a teacher from the Theology of the Body Institute spoke at the August 2011 Calix Society Retreat in Philadelphia. It seemed only logical to read through a transcript of his presentation and the Q&A that followed.

Click here to read that transcript.

Click here to listen to the presentation.

Click here to listen to the Q&A.


Fall 2022 through February of 2023: We read and discussed "Fill These Hearts" by Christopher West.

As we finished up Bill's presentation, the group agreed to read and discuss my favorite introduction to TOB. In fact, this book so impacted my spiritual life I reread it several times and eventually recorded it in my own voice (since no official Audible version is yet available) so I could listen to it again and again! 

Click here to view the book on Amazon.

Click here to listen to yours truly reading it.
(For personal study only please.)


Lent 2023: We read and discussed three sermons with a TOB flavor from the Papal Preacher Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa.

For our devotions during Lent, some of us read the compilation of Cardinal Cantalamessa's Good Friday sermons from his book "The Power of the Cross". As it turns out, some of those sermons had  deep TOB connections to so we decided to discuss them together. (The sermons he delivered in 1992, 1994 and 1999 were the ones that drew us in.)

These sermons grew a couple of new Visio Divina cards on the grounds of Photon Farms which you can see by clicking here. By the way, show and tell from Farmer Fred's icon collection is a regular part of our Thursday night Calix meetings.

Those that didn't buy the book just read the Word Documents that we created for the study which you can read by clicking here and by clicking here. (For personal study only please.)


Easter 2023 to Lent 2024: We read and discussed Dr. Brant Pitre's book "Jesus the Bridegroom: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told".

Have you ever tried to make sense of how the Passion of Christ on the Cross is somehow the consummation of the wedding of God and Humanity? Fulton Sheen references Christ's suffering, death and resurrection as wedding nuptials! What on earth?!?

The author insists that it made perfect sense to many of the Jews of Jesus day. With painstaking patience and very readable scholarship, Dr. Pitre is teaching us to view Jesus' death, burial and resurrection through ancient Jewish eyes. It brings alive all the spousal imagery from the Old and New Testaments and ancient Jewish commentary.

Though Theology of the Body is never once mentioned in the book, its most basic theme is "God wants to marry us" which as we noted above is the best five word summary of TOB you'll ever get.

Here is a link to Dr. Pitre's book on Amazon.  


Lent 2024 to Present: We are reading and discussing Dr. Christopher West's book "Eating The Sunrise: Meditations on the Liturgy and our Hunger for Beauty".

Dr. West is the President of the Theology of the Body Institute and has written many books that distill St. John Paul II's writings beautifully. I believe this is his best effort so far. Like one of his earlier books "Fill These Hearts" this book focuses on the longing to not only behold beauty but to be in it and have it dwell in us... to consume it and be part of it.

Because of its excellent focus on the Eucharist I have been sipping on this book during my Holy Hours for the past month or so. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

To draw from our statement at the top of this page:

How does this speak to those struggling with addictions? For starters, wouldn't it be grand if real joy and intimate connection with God could displace some of the manufactured joy and false connections that our addictions have provided?

As we connect more authentically to God in the sacraments, especially as we receive Jesus in Holy Communion, we can displace our disordered desires with what we are really longing for, body and soul. If you cannot make our weekly meetings, we still recommend this book for anyone in recovery or affected by addictions in any way.

Here is a link to the book on Amazon.


If you want to get in on the fun, come and join us some Thursday evening at 8pm EST on Zoom from wherever you are! Go to the Calix Society website to find out how! There are no dues or fees, all that is needed is an interest in recovery and at least a mild curiosity regarding Theology of the Body to attend.