I saw a pin on Pinterest that said, “You are a perishable item. Live accordingly.” and thought, “Whaaat…?” This is exactly one of those situations when the Catholic view is the exact opposite of the world’s. There might be an apparent “care” of the body: gyms are becoming more of a routine and a meeting spot and Dr. Oz has enormous success. However, it seems a bit superficial. I know some people that work out like crazy, but then consume large amounts of alcohol sporadically. Others that get facials and buy skin creams, but then expose their skin to sun damage. Others still that paint their nails, but then eat enormous amounts of fat and processed food never before known to mankind.
The Nicene Creed, said at every mass, proclaims clearly that a central Catholic belief is the resurrection of the body. This means we are not perishable and this changes everything. We are destined for glory: all of us, body and soul. Also, contrary to popular belief, we don’t just have a body, we are a body.
This means that we can in no way use our body or the body of others as a means to an end. Our body is not simply a means to attract others’ sexual desire or sell a product. We are not to sacrifice its normal functioning to appease someone else. Our body is not simply a shell or outer cover we will shed like a snake sheds its skin. Our body makes visible the invisible: our soul, who we are, who we’re made in the image of. Every freckle, every finger, every perfection and imperfection reveals a grandiose plan. The shriveled hands of an elderly person, the bright red hair of a young girl, the slant in Asian eyes all reveal the diversity of our Maker.
What we do with our body is what we do with our soul… with ourselves.
“The spiritual soul, as St. Thomas reminds us, is the actual form of the body, while our rational faculties come from the soul and only unfold in a second moment. [Summa Theologica, I, q. 76, art. 1; q. 77, art. 1] The proof is that our spiritual soul persists in the body, even if its rational faculties are muddled due to some deficiency. The body is, in a certain way, more interior to the soul than to its science or to its thoughts. What affects our flesh, can then, affect us more deeply than that which we pick up from reflection. I can reflect about death, but the physical proximity to someone that is dying penetrates me beyond speech. I can meditate on beauty, but the sensory presence of a beautiful woman pierces the darkness of my spirit. What affects my flesh touches my soul deeply, and can in this way have a greater spiritual ressonance than the conclusions of my speech.” (Translated from La profondeur des sexes by Fabrice Hadjadj)
Shouldn’t we feel really good in our body, knowing that our Father created us out of pure love? Shouldn’t we rejoice in our originality? Shouldn’t we be amazed by all the amazing things we are able to do… run, dance, write, cook, lift weights, give birth?! Shouldn’t we feel life a lot more? We are incredibly lucky to live in an age where healthy food is readily available and exercise is recreational. Caring for our body should be a priority for those who also look to care for their souls. And also, caring for our soul should be a priority for those who look to care for their bodies. After all, our body reveals what is on the inside. Mother Teresa is well-known for her smile. She was also known for her generous hands and loving embrace.
In conclusion, I’ve made this pin that says, “You are NOT a perishable item. Live accordingly.” Feel free to repin it!
© Julie Rodrigues. All Rights Reserved.
Photography: See our Photographers page.