The idea that all of creation points to God is familiar to most of us who were raised in a faith background. Many of us look at the grandeur of the mountains or the beauty of a tiny flower and wonder at God’s handiwork. Yet the idea that our very bodies can also teach us about God seems a bit stranger. In today’s world, things like masculinity, femininity, sex and love can seem very… well, not sacred. However, even our bodies can be “theology textbooks,” as David Hajduk explains in his book God’s Plan for You: Life, Love, Marriage & Sex.
I received this book for review courtesy of Pauline Books & Media; all opinions expressed are my own. This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
God’s Plan for You overview
God’s Plan for You: Life, Love, Marriage & Sex is written for teens and explains Pope Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. I’ve been meaning to read Theology of the Body since I first heard about it when my husband and I were doing our marriage prep. I’ve even got a big, thick copy of it sitting on my bookshelf. It’s not the sort of book I’d pick up at the end of a day of chasing kids, however. So Hajduk’s YA book gave me an easier way to jump into this important Church teaching.
“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world His Eternal Power and Divine Nature, invisible though They are, have been understood and seen through the things He has made” (Romans 1:19-20 NRSV).
David Hajduk writes in a conversational, friendly style that was easy to get into. He breaks Pope Saint John Paul II’s deep teachings into sixteen “bite-sized” chapters. Hajduk is both honest with teens about tough Church teachings, but also presents those teachings in a positive way, as part of God’s beautiful plan for our lives.
Each chapter begins with a Bible verse. Throughout God’s Plan for You, there are highlighted notes “For Your Consideration” or “Did U Know” facts. At the end of every chapter is a quote from Theology of the Body, a list of Things to Ponder, and references to sections of the Catechism of the Catholic Church for further reading. Hajduk thus invites readers to explore further and to carefully consider the information he’s presenting. I also appreciated the connections between Scriptures, the Catechism, and Pope Saint John Paul II’s writings.
Hajduk understands that the teen years are confusing, and that our teens are being bombarded with confusing messages today:
Have you ever struggled with finding your place in this world? Have you ever looked in a mirror and been unsure if you like what you see, or even know what you see? Have you ever been confused about relationships, sex, or members of the opposite sex? Have you ever been disillusioned over marriage and family life?
With examples from popular movies and books, Hajduk draws teens (and adults!) into the beautiful teachings of Theology of the Body. He gives a quick biography of Pope Saint John Paul II as a young man to help teens connect with him (he wasn’t just a boring old pope!). Hajduk also understands that teens can handle big, tough topics. He doesn’t water-down anything, but rather presents these rich teachings in a clear, concise manner.
While [masculinity and femininity] has been misunderstood and used to perpetuate gender stereotypes or even social injustice, it is important to acknowledge that masculinity and femininity are real and not exclusively socially constructed. The differences between men and women are an essential and important part of our humanity and our human relationships and are vital to a well-functioning society.
My Thoughts on God’s Plan for You
I really enjoyed reading God’s Plan for You, and dog-eared several pages with quotes that I liked (yes, bad habit of mine!). This is the sort of book that I would have read as a teen (if I’d grown up Catholic or converted sooner!). I’m looking forward to giving God’s Plan for You to Sunshine in a year or two (when she’s a teenager) and discussing the ideas with her.
God’s Plan for You is an excellent resource for youth ministers, catechists, priests, and parents, and is definitely a must-read for Catholic teens. I’m constantly telling my friends about it (which would be easier if the title were catchier or David’s name less like a sneeze, but don’t judge a book by its cover or title!).
If you have younger children, check out Theology of the Body for Kids: Resources and Tips for Your Family at Elevator to Heaven.
At this moment, I think our culture is at a bit of a crisis point when it comes to understanding what it truly means to live in a body. This crisis is important and it’s worth giving ourselves over to fix it because as much as this crisis can affect all of us, it affects most those who come after us. ~ Amanda Knapp on “Body and Spirit”
More about David Hajduk
David Hajduk is a husband, father, theology professor, pastoral minister, speaker, and author. He has almost thirty years of experience in religious education and youth, family life, and pro-life ministries. He has a B.A. with a double major in Religious Studies and Philosophy, a M.A. in in Systematic Theology, and did his Ph.D. dissertation on the thought of Pope Saint John Paul II. David has spoken to thousands of people through his keynote addresses at conferences, presentations to high schools and colleges, talks to youth groups and Confirmation classes, seminars, retreats, diocesan workshops, parent nights, parish missions, and marriage preparation catechetical days.
God’s Plan for You received the Catholic Press Association of the United States & Canada Book Award in 2007. A revised, updated version was published in 2018 (which is the version I have).
David lives in Belvidere, New Jersey, with his wife Shannon and their 11 children. To find out more about him or read more reflections on the work of Pope Saint John Paul II, drop by his website.