Today, I continue my ongoing series of conversations with awesome storytellers creating fantastic projects as I’m joined by Ann Gundlach, the founder of the dynamic new resource Embodied Magazine. Launching in January, this terrific tool offers an experiential, story-based path to sharing the good news about Theology of the Body. Ann has been at work for years using her gifts to bless families around the world. I hope you enjoy this conversation and that it helps you realize that our sharing of small gifts, actions, and prayers does matter. Lisa
Q: Ann, congratulations on the launch of Embodied Magazine! Please briefly introduce yourself and your family to our readers.
While I can say for sure that I am happy to be married nearly 38 years to my husband, Greg, at the same time it seems crazy that it has been that long! We are enjoying the blessings of life with three adult children and three (soon to be four) grandchildren who all live within five miles of us in Cincinnati, Ohio. That is a treasure we don’t take lightly.
Professionally, I was blessed to spend most of my career as Director of Marketing & Communication for the Couple to Couple League, the largest provider of natural family planning education in the U.S. A big part of that was producing CCL’s Family Foundations magazine which supported couples who had chosen to eschew contraception and follow God’s plan for marital love. Family Foundations won many awards for writing and editing from the Catholic Press Association, but I am most touched by the number of readers who kept every issue or who passed along articles to a friend or loved one. That told me we were touching hearts.
Q: After so many years of commitment to the Couple to Couple League, what inspired you to take on this project?
That actually has a long answer but the short answer is that God called me to it. About two years ago my spiritual director said something to me that stopped me in my tracks: “How long have you been feeling the call to start this magazine?” Me: “Four or five years.” “It’s clearly not going away. If you don’t take actual, concrete steps to try and do this – succeed or fail – you are being disobedient to the Holy Spirit.”
Ouch! Going against the Holy Spirit is something this charismatic girl never wants to do, so here I am. I left CCL a year ago, established a non-profit called Embodied Publishing with the mission to produce Embodied Magazine, have done months and months of strategic planning, securing a board of directors, etc., and published a free Gift Issue in September. Our first official issue is ready to go to the printer now and will hit mailboxes around the first of the year.
Lisa, I have to admit that your own book, The Grace of Yes, definitely played a role in this! It was through my work at CCL that I first learned about the theology of the body (TOB), which is the focus of Embodied Magazine. But as I studied it more on my own I began to see how much bigger it is than just a beautiful support for the Church’s teachings on sexuality – it touches everything in the faith! I started getting the idea that I could help explain TOB to people just as I had helped explain NFP – using witness stories of those who were already living it. Your book encouraged me to give my “yes”.
Q: How would you describe Embodied to someone who hasn’t seen it yet?
Embodied will be a beautifully written and designed magazine that I promise people will look forward to seeing in their mailboxes. A print magazine is somewhat of a rarity in our digital age, which is too bad because there’s something about a magazine that feels like an invitation. To slow down and unplug. To take to your favorite cozy spot and savor. To leave around the house for your children to find or to pass along to a friend who needs to read a certain article.
The best magazines speak to the soul, which is my goal with Embodied, so readers will find diverse stories of real people living from a place of self-gift (a hallmark of the TOB), articles that examine every aspect of the faith with a TOB lens, and a slate of regular columns that will introduce TOB principles on an introductory level. Embodied will not be a lofty theological read…it will be more of a Catholic lifestyle magazine with content that appeals to men, women, singles, and marrieds of any age. Because TOB is applicable to everyone!
Q: For those who are new to the concepts of Theology of the Body, how is this teaching relevant to anyone, regardless of their vocation or station in life?
When I first started learning about theology of the body, I kept hearing it referred to as an “adequate anthropology.” I had to google “anthropology” because it’s been a while since college for me and was reminded that it is the study of humanity, our origins, development, cultures, etc. With the TOB, St. John Paul II gave us a total vision of humanity from God’s perspective as the One who created us out of love, for love. This is where the “adequate” comes into play because it lays out the vision for all men and women planned for all eternity by the God who loves us. Of course, it is for all of us!
I personally have been transformed by learning TOB because it hit me straight in the heart, whereas many of my other spiritual pursuits have been more intellectual. If I ever had any doubts that God truly loved me, they are gone. Obliterated. And that has changed my faith more than anything else in my life.
Q: What are your hopes for Embodied? How will subscribers and supporters participate in this mission?
I have hopes on different levels. I hope that all readers are inspired by the content we deliver in each issue and that it helps them navigate some of the hard issues we all face. At a much higher level, I hope that we can reach the challenge my visioning team has set before us: To make Embodied Magazine available to 5 million Catholics in the U.S. by 2030. That may sound daunting, but once people get a little taste of the beauty of theology of the body, they tend to want to learn more and more. TOB is incredibly positive, so it’s very inviting.
But yes, I am launching a magazine on my own, and am not a person of means to do that….so I am relying on God to help my “yes” to him by sending me the subscribers and donors needed to cover the costs while I grow a subscriber base. Everyone is encouraged to go to www.embodiedmag.org and click “SUBSCRIBE” to become a founding subscriber or donor. I won’t succeed without others joining in!
Q: Are there any additional thoughts or comments you’d like to share with our readers?
Every single one of us wonders about the meaning of life: Who am I? Why am I here? What will make me happy? St. John Paul II gave us this wonderful theology that points to self-gift as the key to becoming more fully human, which leads to the happiness we seek. I invite your readers, especially those who are new to TOB, to dip their toe into the water with Embodied Magazine and discover why so many people became St. John Paul II’s raving fans.
For a peek at the first issue: https://embodiedmag.org/premiere-issue-will-be-packed-with-awesomeness/