Q&A: Women as the “Crown of Creation”, Loving Unconditionally in an Awkward Conversation, and the “Morbidity” of Saints’ Relics

Each month, I hold a live Question & Answer chat on the Cor Membership private Facebook group. It’s one of the many perks of being a member. The topics are wide-ranging and often deal with real-life challenges of learning, living and sharing St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body (TOB).

Beginning with today’s blog post, I will share from time to time some of the questions and my answers. I hope you find them helpful.

QUESTION: Is it accurate to say that woman is the “crown of creation”? When I went to Steubenville, it was very common to hear women say they were the crown of creation. But when I began to understand TOB better, I felt it was more accurate to say that men AND women are the crown of creation. After all, the reason the glory of woman is the crown of creation is more because of the unity of the two that God establishes in her creation, rather than who she is on her own…right?

CW: This is a great question! There is a correct sense in which to consider women the “crown of creation” and an incorrect one. You are right: the human being (male and female) is the crown of creation, but in a more specific sense, since woman is the model of the whole human race (as JP II said), it is fitting to see in woman the crown. We have to hold the two creation accounts together to get the correct picture. In Genesis 1, “male and female he created them” at the crown. In Genesis 2, woman is created as the “final act of God” and is, thus, rightly considered the crown. Holding the two truths together, perhaps we could say woman is the “crown of the crown” or perhaps the “jewel” in the crown. Something like that.

The other day a woman and I were conversing in a plus-sized women’s clothing store. She said she’s so glad to finally see photos in the store of women whose body types reflect those of actual customers. I agreed. Then the conversation became about a woman’s right to be whatever size she chooses. At this point I did not have a response because it seemed that health was not even a consideration. I was reminded of other circumstances in which embracing another’s beliefs which are contrary to God’s desire for us (e.g., physical and spiritual health) is considered loving unconditionally. Could you tell me what you might say in this situation, if you were me? I regret being at a loss for words.

Soooo… to love unconditionally is to love as God loves, and to love as God loves always involves desiring that person’s good. At a certain level that is subjective: my wife expresses her love for me when she desires for me to have my favorite desert (that which is my favorite desert is subjective; particular to me). But there are objective goods that do not depend on subjective preferences, and to love a person unconditionally is to desire what is objectively good for that person. The modern world, of course, has rejected that there is any objective good and has reduced all questions to the subjective level (like desert). It seems you may have been sensing this in the exchange you had with this person. We can’t shift a person’s entire view of the world in a brief exchange at the store, but we can plant some seeds that we are not the arbiters of what is good.

My question is about saints’ relics. I was not raised to venerate relics, but I certainly respect saints’ relics and am beginning to have a devotion, as it’s something my husband is devoted to. I know there are cases in the Bible like the woman cured of a hemorrhage by touching the hem of Christ’s cloak (Mt 9:20-22) and the sick who were healed when Peter’s shadow passed over them (Acts 5:14-16). But I am still not totally clear on saints’ relics, their “power” if you will, or how they fit into our modern world. Also, from a TOB perspective, quite frankly it seems a bit morbid to venerate parts of bodies and/or clothing. Can you give some insight?

There’s no doubt that there is a certain “morbidity” to walking into a Cathedral in Rome, for instance, and seeing the semi-rotten arm, or heart, or head of a person who died centuries ago. What’s up with that? At the same time, I’d say that a TOB perspective actually illuminates the practice of venerating relics quite powerfully. We are incarnation creatures. The bodies of saints are “part of them.” The clothes they wore, the things they touched, these things have a real, bodily connection to them. Power went out from Jesus’s body to heal us. Saints share in that power of Jesus flowing through their bodies. Yes, all good things have their exaggerations and abuses, but there is something fitting in our desire to SEE and HOLD the relics of the saints.

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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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