S. MICHAEL HUTCHESON
“What does it mean to be made in the image and likeness of God?” asked senior household coordinator Scott Hingsbergen. “What does it mean to be human in the fullest sense?”
Hingsbergen is the co-coordinator of Corpus Christi household, a group of men who live out the charisms of joy, dignity, self-donation and passionate love and who seek to love and respect all human beings as the people that God made them to be.
“By virtue of being humans created by God, we have innate dignity,” reads their covenant. “The princely dignity we possess gives us a responsibility to treat ourselves and others with the highest level of respect and love.”
One of the defining aspects of Corpus Christi is its emphasis on St. John Paul II’s theology of the body teachings. “We want to proclaim the message of theology of the body,” explained Hingsbergen. “It’s like our bread and butter.”
Corpus Christi was founded in 2013, before learning theology of the body really took off at Franciscan. As Hingsbergen explained, “the members who had gathered together just had such a hunger and a passion for theology of the body. … they wanted to get it out onto the campus. … It’s just our dedication to St. John Paul II’s vision for family and life. … We’re really gung-ho with JPII.”
In addition to its devotion to St. John Paul II, Corpus Christi also chose as a patron St. Raphael the Archangel. Hingsbergen explained that St. Raphael is a patron of the household for his role as the patron saint of chastity and also for the role he played in the book of Tobit. “Tobit is a heavy theology of the body book. All about true love,” Hingsbergen said.
In the book of Tobit, Tobias is led by the archangel Raphael to his future wife Sarah. Sarah, however, is being attacked by a demon who had killed her seven previous husbands. Raphael guides the two of them through a ritual that would protect them and allow them to consummate their marriage, said Hingsbergen.
“The power of love enables Tobias to overcome this demon. It’s deeply theology of the body because it’s all about overcoming lust. The demon represents lust coming from other men, but Tobias … truly commits himself to her, and she’s free from this demon,” explained Hingsbergen. “True love is more powerful than death itself.”
Corpus Christi’s Lord’s Day stands out in several ways from the other households’, beyond the fact that it starts at 3 in the afternoon, an hour earlier than most other Lord’s Days.
Keeping with their devotion to St. John Paul II, the household also reflects on articles from theology of the body that are relevant to the day’s Gospel. After their Gospel meditation, they pray over the bread and the wine, singing to the Lord in the ancient tongue of Hebrew.
The men of Corpus Christi also imitate their namesake, the Body of Christ, in that they stand together and call each other on to grow in their faith. “St. Thomas the Apostle, he sees the face of Christ in the context of community,” said Hingsbergen. “What do I need from my brothers? I need them to show me the face of Christ. There’s a theology of the body aspect not just in the body, but also in communion. We need to help each other see the face of Christ.”
The brothers of the household also stand together to fight sin and temptation. “Our household has declared war on pornography,” said Hingsbergen. “Pornography sucks. We know that we’re made for more.”
Finally, the men of Corpus Christi look to Mary as an ultimate exemplar of all their charisms.
“Mary, Mother of God, … by her willingness to give her body to receive Christ, … showed beautiful self-donation,” reads Corpus Christi’s covenant. “Mary showed joy in all its forms, from her Magnificat to the foot of the cross … Through her holy virginity and dedication to motherhood, she radiated passionate love.”
The men, through her intercession, seek to fulfill their mission and live out their charisms in all that they do. As their covenant says, “By Mary’s example, we see what it means to live out the theology of the body.”