What is life all about?
Why do relationships, sex, and members of the opposite sex leave me feeling hurt or confused?
These are questions teens and young people
are asking whenever they look in the mirror.
David Hadjuk has a message of hope for them. He says to young people:
Don't give up hope on the deepest desire of the human heart--authentic love!
Dare to imagine what it means to be created in the image of God.
Discover God’s amazing plan for you!
In his updated book God's Plan for You, David Hudjuk presents to young people Catholic teaching on human sexuality, drawing on Saint John Paul II’s theology of the body.
“In a culture that has forgotten its way, David dives in with the teaching of St. John Paul II to help guide us toward the abundant life God offers. Intelligent and witty, God’s Plan For You will leave you asking all the right questions and finding Christ’s answers.”
—Joel Stepanek, Director of Resource Development, Life Teen
We met up with David and asked him about them, and here are some of his thoughts:
What inspired you to revise your original book about Theology of the Body for teens?
In short, since I originally wrote this book, many things have changed:
First, I have changed. I have had that much more experience and a husband and father trying to live out what I present here, and that experience has taught me some invaluable lessons. Also, since the release of the first edition of the book I have given countless talks to audiences of all kinds, including to thousands of couples preparing for marriage. I have taught classes on these themes to people from middle school to master's degree. All this speaking and teaching has helped me to develop new and better ways of explaining the material, and to identify certain points that are not as essential to cover. Lastly, I have my doctorate in theology now, and did my research on the thought of St. John Paul II. I am not sure how much that will mean to you (except to officially classify me as a "nerd"), but it has changed me and the way I understand the Theology of the Body.
Second, the world has changed. While many of the issues that were culturally relevant when I originally wrote the book are still so, some of the language and examples in the previous version had become "dated." Also, the culture has moved on, and there are new issues that have taken center stage which I felt needed addressing. So, it seemed important to me to make some changes in order to keep the book current, as well as to improve some of the language and examples in order to make them a little more immune to societal shifts and current trends in popular culture.
Third, the Church has "changed." I put this is quotations because, on one level, the Church cannot change. The Church's doctrine, while it can organically develop, cannot essentially change. Yet, the Church's pastoral approach can and must change to most effectively communicate the Gospel message to each generation. Especially with Pope Francis, the Church has seen a shift. He has called us to concentrate on those aspects of the Gospel that are "most beautiful, most grand, most appealing and at the same time most necessary" (The Joy of the Gospel, n. 35). He has exhorted us to have the message that “Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you" ring out over and over again (164). He has also made clear that any presentation of the Gospel must "be marked by joy, encouragement, liveliness and a harmonious balance..." (165). Lastly, in convoking the Jubilee Year of Mercy for 2016, Pope Francis made clear his view of what the Church can and should be: a Church "steeped in mercy" that goes out "to every man and woman, bringing the goodness and tenderness of God" (The Face of Mercy, n. 5). The Church must reflect the face of Jesus, who is the face of the Father's mercy (1). It is my sincere hope that this newly revised version has the "feel" of Pope Francis and has captured this approach.
Fourth, Pope John Paul II has changed. When I started writing the first edition of the book, Pope John Paul II was still alive. He died before I finished. Since then, he has been canonized a saint of the Roman Catholic Church! So, I wanted the book to reflect and celebrate this, referring to him as St. John Paul II.
Lastly, the Theology of the Body has changed. The English translation of it, at least. Since the release of my book, there is a new translation of the Theology of the Body that has pretty much become the standard for English speaking countries. So, I wanted the book to use quotes from this translation.
So while it is the same book, in many ways totally new. I hope young people feel the nearness of Jesus as they read it. I hope they hear him calling to their hearts: "Come, follow me..." I hope they are struck by the beauty and awesomeness of God's plan for them.
Look inside God's Plan for You by David Hadjuk >>
Why is TOB important to teach teens?
Most teens are bombarded by false messages about where their true value comes from, as well as how they can find happiness in life. In our culture, it's easy to get the idea that one's personal value is equal to one's sexual value and that happiness will be found in maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain. Additionally, sex is increasingly being seen as a "recreational" activity that should be done merely for the fun of it. And then there is the "pandemic" of internet pornography, the viewing of which is not only seen as a "given" but as socially acceptable. Given all of this, teens need a holistic and integrated view of the human person, the meaning of human life and love, and the meaning of the body and sex - one that emphasizes our creation in the image and likeness of God and resonates with the deepest longings and hopes of their hearts. The Theology of the Body provides precisely this.
How does your book engage teens on important TOB topics?
The book reads like you are speaking with a friend, and I put a lot of work into building trust with the readers by sharing myself with them: my interests, my likes and dislikes, personal memories from my childhood and teenage years, and examples from my own family. I am a firm believer that a teen needs to know how much you care before he or she will care how much you know. And they need to see you as a real person who is accessible, as someone who understands them and sees them as individuals (and not just part of "this generation."). Then they need to see that you are thoughtful, that is, that you are open-minded, and listen, but also that when you have an opinion it seems balanced and like you have given it a lot of personal thought. That's the tone I try to strike. I think it helps teens to be open to me, especially when I talk about the more challenging and difficult topics.
How can parishes set up a study group to use this book?
The book's conversational style makes it an easy read for any young person. The book presents the TOB in "bite sized" portions so that each concepts can been fully understood and digested, and each chapter has questions that could be discussed in a small group as well as offers references to the Catechism of the Catholic Church that can be looked up and read to go even deeper into the topics. Each chapter builds on the previous one, and so the book reads like one continuous "argument" for this beautiful vision of God's plan for human life and love.
Praise for God's Plan for You:
“In a world that can be at times confusing and lonely, David Hajduk has given us a true gift! Countless gems for pursuing truth, faith, and real love!”
—Sarah Swafford, Emotional Virtue, A Guide to Drama Free Relationships
“Already one of my favorite theology of the body reads, Hajduk’s refresh of God’s Plan for You elevates it to ‘must-read’ status for our ‘This is my body/This is not my body’ world.”
—Damon Owens, Executive Director, joytob.org; former Executive Director, Theology of the Body Institute
“David uses contemporary examples of film, culture, and beloved stories to help flesh out the insights of Saint John Paul II on the beauty of human love. What a gift!”
—Jackie Francois Angel & Bobby Angel, Forever: A Catholic Devotional for Your Marriage
“David Hajduk is an enthusiastic, reliable and accessible communicator of Saint John Paul’s theology of the body for teens. I highly recommend this work.”
—Dr. Petroc Willey, Director, Office of Catechetics, Franciscan University of Steubenville
About the Author:
David Hajduk, Ph.D. has over twenty-five years of experience in religious education and youth, family life, and pro-life ministries. Since 1998, he has been a member of the Religious Studies Department at Delbarton School in Morristown, New Jersey, and since 2002 has been the Director of Campus Ministry. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Systematic Theology at Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology at Seton Hall University. David is widely respected as a dynamic speaker and teacher. He received his doctorate in theology from Maryvale Institute in Birmingham, UK and wrote his dissertation on the thought of Saint John Paul II. A husband and a father, David resides in New Jersey with his wife, Shannon, and their children.
Go to David's website to read his spiritual reflections or to reach out to him by email: www.thelifeofthebeloved.com.