110. What’s the Most Contested of All Christian Beliefs?

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My two blogs last week on The Danish Girl [part 1 here and part 2 here] sparked lots of good Facebook discussion. Thanks to everyone who participated!

This comment struck me: “I didn’t even hear [about the unity of body and soul] until I came back into the church 4 years ago. I think we should all really meditate on this truth and mystery. I don’t really understand it because the body dies at death but the soul continues. I can understand how people believe you are not your body because of this. An article on this topic would be helpful, or direction to one you have already written would be appreciated.”

First thought to keep in mind is that death is entirely unnatural – it was never meant to be in God’s plan. As Peter Kreeft says, when death separates body and soul “we have a freak, a monster, an obscenity. That is why we are terrified of ghosts and corpses, though both are harmless: they are the obscenely separated aspects of what belongs together as one.” Think what our horror movies are made of: ghosts and corpses. They both horrify us because bodies and souls were never supposed to be separated.

Second thing to keep in mind is that the death of the body is not the final word on the body. Christians conclude their Creed with this bold proclamation: “I believe in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Amen.”

The Catechism observes, “‘On no point does the Christian faith meet with more opposition than on the resurrection of the body.’ It is very commonly accepted that the life of the human person continues in a spiritual fashion after death. But how can we believe that this body, so clearly mortal, could rise to everlasting life” (996)? How can we believe it? Because Christ’s body rose to everlasting life and, as he goes, so goes those who follow him in death.

What a mystery! In Christ “the mortal puts on immortality” (1 Co 15:54). This means, as Pope Benedict XVI observed, that the “proper Christian thing … is to speak not of the soul’s immortality, but of the resurrection of the complete human being [body and soul] and of that alone.”

Question: I speak at a lot of priest convocations and I often ask them what percentage of their parishioners they think believe their bodies are a shell or prison from which they’ll escape when they go to heaven. I typically hear percentages in the 90s. Why do you think this is? Share your comments on Facebook and Twitter.

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For such a time as this have we been given Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. By taking us beyond the alternatives of prudish repression and damaging indulgence, the Theology of the Body opens the path to the redemption of sexuality and the real healing of our wounds. Learn more by watching my short film, The Cry of the HeartWatch the trailer below.

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