I’m not sure how it took so long to realize that the sacramental truths of Catholicism emphasize how important our bodies are. But the Eucharist at Mass today enlightened me.
Or, more precisely, the priest saying that we can become what we consume got me thinking more about what the body part of our faith really means. And okay, it’s because it’s all I’ve been thinking about since I started this blog.
A sacrament is, after all, an outward sign of an inward grace. Through the sacraments, we encounter God in our earthly world. Sacraments allows us to see, touch, and talk with God. How cool is that?
If you can’t make the connection (like I apparently didn’t immediately), let an excerpt from Good News About Sex and Marriage by Christopher West explain it to you:
We truly become sharers of divine life by bathing the body with water (baptism); through anointing the body with oil and the laying on of hands (Confirmation, holy orders, anointing of the sick); through confessing with our lips and receiving the spoken words of absolution (reconciliation); through eating and drinking the Body and Blood of Christ (Eucharist); and yes, through the encounter that makes a man and woman “one flesh” (marriage).
Our world likes to say that religion – particularly the Catholic faith – treats the body with contempt. Perhaps this is because they fall into the trap of thinking that our spirits are separate from our bodies. I already talked about that in this blog post. Yes, we as Catholics focus on the spiritual world. God is pure Spirit, and we are always looking towards Him. But even God had to show us his love by becoming a body. Body and spirit are inseparable.
It’s in and through the body that we encounter the divine. So of course, the Catholic Church values and loves the body. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and we should glorify God by offering our bodies as a living sacrifice. Such as I do with running.
So why the idea that the Church hates our bodies? (And particularly female bodies.) Well, because the world tells us to love our bodies in a way that isn’t really love at all.
The world says self-indulge. The Church says self-discipline.
The world says go out and get what you want. The Church says give everything you have.
The world says do it if it feels good. The Church says pick up your cross and follow Christ.
The world says love is a feeling. The Church says love is a choice.
Who do you trust? The culture or the Church? I tried the world’s way. Then, through running, I unknowingly started the Church’s way. I can’t ever go back to the world’s way.
I don’t want to.