Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Great Divide, Part 2 In yesterday's post, with the inspiration of St. Augustine, we looked at the sad division that exists between the spiritual and the physical. We found that God's original plan for us is one of union and communion, not division and disruption. But sin has weighed us down; our bodies and our souls are often at war. We all have such deep wounds, and twisted truths that the culture has been cramming down our throats our whole lives. But it doesn't have to be this way! Grace gives us the upper hand. Openness to Grace transforms heart and mind and, in a certain sense, restores us to our origins. Grace teaches us the truth about our bodies: that they are meant to be shining sacraments that house the Divine Mystery! What's that? Listen to Pope John Paul's thought: "So in man created in the image of God there was revealed, in a way, the very sacramentality of creation, the sacramentality of the world." Huh? Back to School: A sacrament is a visible sign given to us by Christ to communicate grace (His very life). There are 7 capital "S" sacraments, but we could also say there's a whole host of little "s" sacraments; visible signs that inwardly speak to us of God. I bet you could think of a half a dozen right now. The human body, and the call of man and woman to be one flesh, is the primordial sacrament! Pope John Paul II spent the first 5 years of his calling as Pope to teach this truth to the world, a world still ravaged (like today) by the confusion and disorder of the sexual revolution. From 1979 through 1984, John Paul gave 129 short talks from Rome on the meaning of the body, marital intimacy, and the call of man and woman to become one flesh! Have you ever heard of this teaching? Sadly, many have not. It's called the Theology of the Body. Spiritual Filet Mignon (chew slowly) "The body, in fact, and it alone is capable of making visible what is invisible; the spiritual and divine. It was created to transfer into the visible reality of the world the mystery hidden in God since time immemorial." (Pope John Paul II, Feb. 1980) What is that mystery hidden in God that the body reveals? It is His very own LIFE. God Himself, the Catechism tells us, is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and He has destined us to share in that exchange! We are destined to be drawn up into the very heart of God!! To enter into the Great Dance!! And God wanted this mystery to be so clear to us that He stamped it's image right into our bodies, by creating them male and female. Think about it: Man gives himself to woman, woman receives man and from their union a Third person soon emerges. In a tiny, earthy, sacramental way, three persons make one family, one family as three persons. Coincidence? I don't think so! This is crazy. This is beyond our wildest dreams. Have you ever heard of this? Is your image of God that of an old man with a beard sitting on a cloud? Has the image of Heaven you've grown up with ever felt, well, kinda boring? A little disconnected from the life you experience here and now? Pope John Paul II taught us in this Theology of the Body that the closest image we can fathom here and now of God and Heaven is by the image of the marital embrace of husband and wife and all the joys they experience through that embrace. Whoa. Now this is the best analogy we can have, he says, but at the same time, all analogies that we can conceive of in our human experience still fall infinitely short of the transcendent reality of Who God is. But the best analogy we can have is this embrace. Again, I say... wow. This Bliss, the resurrection of our bodies and their ultimate union with our souls and our total union with God in a heavenly marriage, is foreshadowed and already happening in the Holy Eucharist. This is where we can become, really, one flesh with Jesus! This is why he called Himself the Bridegroom! Marriage as we experience it here below is a foretaste of the Heavenly Marriage. The Eucharist is a foretaste of Heaven! And we are called to become walking tabernacles that tell the world this truth of our deepest identity and our ultimate destiny! Whew.... let's take this to prayer. Let's be still. This is nuts. This is Catholicism! Find a quiet corner and ponder this Mystery. Take a coffee break, hide in your cubicle. Take a walk. Better still, make some time today to sit before Jesus in a silent church, bring Him the twisted truths you've grown up with, open up your heart to this Divine Doctor of your body and soul and say "awe."

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