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The Fruits of TOB by Rani James

Updated: Apr 8


The Fruits of TOB in Suffering 

After taking the Image and Gift TOB class in the Summer of 2021, I feel as if the veil has been lifted a little more for me. I had been on a journey to go deeper in my faith for several years. I had lost my mother in 2018, when I was 38. I spent much of the following year in prayer and adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. Often, I would see the pained face of Jesus, famously titled, Ecce Homo, Latin for “Behold the Man,” in the Eucharist or when I closed my eyes. This image captures when Pilot brought Jesus out before the crowd to give them a chance to release Him.  The pained look on Jesus’ innocent face spoke to me that His people were hurting. I kept seeing and hearing it repeatedly. I felt like Jesus wanted me to share mine and my mother’s suffering for his glory. I did that through personal sharing, blogging, public testimonies and even through bible study sharing. It wasn’t until Image and Gift that I learned fully how our suffering isn’t new, but can and should be redemptive, if we allow God to work in and through it. 

 

Growing up in a divorced family, my image of marriage was painful. Through Image and Gift, God gave me the grace to know that this wasn’t how it was supposed to be, but I didn’t realize fully until this course how he had literally made family in the image of the Trinity. I’ll never forget Jennifer’s visual of the wrapped “gift” of the Holy Spirit being passed back and forth between God the Father and God the Son, Jesus. It was funny and catchy, but so impactful and informative on how marriage and family life was meant to model that very relationship. It’s no wonder the enemy has the family at the top of his hit list. Man and woman were loved and created on purpose to share a love so great that God included them in creating more humans to know, love and serve Him! Jennifer has been gifted (no pun intended) by the Holy Spirit to bring others to encounter the Lord and his plan through her wit and humor that is intertwined with her seriousness for the faith and true love of the Lord.  

 

Learning about our natural inclination to sin and suffer after the fall really made so much sense. One statement that I wrote in my notes from class was “I must know who I am in order to know how I ought to act.” This is so true. As a society, we’ve forgotten who we are, much less whose we are. If we are to live more full, meaningful lives, we must come to grips with the reality of why we were created-to know, serve and love God.  


The Fruits of TOB in Ministry


Still, two years later, there are things that the Lord is revealing to me that stem from the education and seeds that were planted during the course. I recently presented a talk to a group of women on meeting God in the garden of your heart to heal hurts that come from our past. The realization that these hurts resonate deeply from the fall and our broken humanity were revealed to me more and more through TOB. Journeying back to the garden of Eden, hearing the Lord God call out to the first man and woman in Genesis chapter three, we related that to where God is calling out to us for healing and restoration. I know this Holy Spirit inspired presentation was the fruit of this class, Jennifer’s devotion and passion and St Pope John Paul II’s mission to spread God’s truth.  


The Fruits of TOB in Marriage and Family Life

While my husband and I love each other imperfectly, the realization that we are called to love with the same love of the Trinity and lead each other to heaven, has brought me from a place of self-seeking pleasure and happiness, to one of willing self-sacrifice, suffering daily inconveniences and setting aside my own preference for His greater good. While I cannot and will not ever do this perfectly, in the striving, I know God has and can do so much! 

My view on marital union (sex) has really been transformed.  When you realize that it's literally a foretaste of heaven, a sacred gift from God, you can’t help but treasure it and treat it as holy! I have been able to talk to my kids more openly about this and encourage them to protect the gift of their sexuality so that it can be a gift instead of a distorted burden or even an idol. This class has given me the knowledge and verbiage to have such conversations.  

I praise God for Jennifer and her team’s boldness in proclaiming God’s truth through St John Paul II’s teaching. Her ability to break down this very intellectual teaching in a way that the average person can understand is nothing short of inspiration from the Holy Spirit. If more of us understood these truths, I believe our society would be much more loving, understanding and directed toward God.  



About the Author:

Rani James is a parishioner and the Director of the Full of Grace Cafe at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary parish in St. Amant, Louisiana.

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