Saturday, June 28, 2014

Reflection on May 6, 1981

“Our preceding reflections did not intend to question the right to this subject.” When I first started reading the talks on this subject I thought he was saying exactly the opposite of this. Throughout history the images and stories of unions between man and woman have been the central focus of many works of art. That makes sense because so much of our life revolves around the relationships we have, especially with the opposite sex, most especially in that special union of marriage. But, as opposed to restricting us from the field, SJPII is teaching that if we are in this field we must act in an ethical manner, not just artistically. The idea that anything can be art is ludicrous, yet this is accepted by many.

It is easy to see where the issue comes from when SJPII says that an artist must not just conform their art, but conform their life. A good portion of the “art world” comprise to the most liberal people in the world. Art is a reflection of their beliefs and what they think of the human body. It is no small wonder that a group that has no sense of human dignity would see no issue with the display of the human body in a manner that is objectifying. They might find any art that puts the body in a way that is not objectifying as not art or not realistic. The human is a glorified animal, there is no soul, it is an object to be treated anyway they want, and so their art will reflect that. The further the world slips into immorality the further they will push art to go along with it.

I was thinking about a sculpture that would cross the boundary. Or is there a nude photo that would fit into this mode of contemplation. “The contemplation of this makes it possible to concentrate, in a way, on the whole truth of man, on the dignity and the beauty—also the "suprasensual" beauty—of his masculinity and femininity.” A sculpture that might cross the boundary is “The Abduction of Proserpina”. I am trying to think of a nude photo that would allow you to contemplate dignity in the way described by JPII.

I think, along with what I talked about last time with the naturalist being ashamed in front of a doctor, people have a gut reaction to art that is inappropriate. It may be down deep and it may be ignored, but it is there and comes from that same place, that original innocence. It is the duty of the artist and the recipient to keep art inside its boundaries. Artist can try to off reflection on the whole truth of the body through art, but the recipient can still take that and abuse it.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Reflection on April 29, 1981

Art is in a battle with shame. There is a struggle or a boundary that must be established. Art of the human body loses that battle and crosses the line when it ceases to respect the nature of the body, the reciprocity of the self gift, the unique experience that gift is supposed to be and what it teaches us. With that in mind, it makes you wonder about most art. You wonder if any art of the human body is appropriate. Think of a portrait of a person. They may be giving it as a gift to family or friends, but where is the reciprocity, where is the gift in return? This is clarified by narrowing the issue to making what is private public. A family portrait is a family, dressed in the normal cloths they would wear in public. There is no danger it crossing that boundary of respect because what they are revealing in the art is already public. We obviously would qualify nudes as something that is private being made public, but do nudes alone qualify. What about clothing that is scandalous? The problem with the idea of making what is private public is the world’s idea of what should be private. When you look at the world, they don’t seem to care too much about what is brought to the public light. (Unless you are talking about contraception/abortion/homosexual activity. Then the right to privacy is paramount and trumps all.)

A naturalist might say that any part of the human body should be shared. Do they really feel that way or is it just word speak? Do they have the same shame/embarrassment when they go to visit a doctor for a physical? I would think so and therefore deep down they know exposing your body in public is wrong. They understand it because it is inherited, that part of us that reaches back to the beginning, that touch of original innocence in us all.

The body is a gift, meant to be given in a unique way, in a special communion, fully and wholly and singularly. Art of this type puts that gift on display. It is to an anonymous audience whose intentions are unknown. In putting this gift of the body out there for all you completely move in opposition to the correct meaning of the body, its intended purpose. Your experience is distorted (along with all those in the audience that use your image) and this distorts your understanding of what it means to be human.

It is so odd how the world treats pornography. It allows it, accepts it, promotes it, but hides it. When you go to a dinner party is one of the acceptable topics your collection of pornography? Is the person at the party proudly acknowledging their occupation as a star of pornography? We mock the “walk of shame” by a person leaving the morning after, but we have no issue with how they got there. Deep down we know it is wrong, we know it hurts us, we know we should stop, but the world tells us to keep going. The world says it is okay, indulge, sleep around, be friends with benefits, just don’t be proud of it. How about we try to live our lives in a way we can be proud of?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Reflection on April 22, 1981

In the last reflection, I thought SJPII was saying photos cannot be art because of their lack of artistic change from the model. He seems to back off from that here and instead lumps art and photography together in that they can either be good or bad. What he seems to be trying to get at is the human body in any reproduction, must not be taken lightly or done without great care, it is not “merely aesthetic, nor morally indifferent.” The human body has meaning, as we have seen throughout these reflections, and therefore an image of this body in any type of format can and should have that same meaning.

We think of nakedness and shame as intertwined, and that is a result of the fall. But throughout the reflections on those, I never thought about the feeling you have undressing for the doctor. There is a feeling there, maybe some shame, some embarrassment, some horror, maybe pride. But I think everyone feels that, Christian or not. That imbedded feeling gives us an incline into the shame experienced by Adam and Eve. SJPII brings up the use of nakedness in concentration camps as a way to break down the prisoners. I think everyone can understand the humiliation there and what that means. Yet our world wants to turn around and exploit the nakedness of people to sell Hardee’s or cars or Superbowls, etc. The world, though not Christian, understands the feeling of shame, but seems to bury it deep so that they can try to satisfy its feelings. For all the freedom the world preaches and tells everyone not to bury your feelings and to fulfill all your urges, shame seems to be the feeling the world wants you to bury. As usual, God has given us shame to bring us to purity. The direction of the world goes counter to the direction of God.

I think you could easily say that the culture is not indifferent to “creating a climate favorable to chastity”. I think they are actively opposed to a climate of chastity. I cannot think of a single example of anything remotely promoted that in any way shape or form would bread a climate favorable to chastity. But it doesn’t take a minute to come up with a laundry list of things the world is doing to beat down and degrade the idea of chastity. Indifferent? I don’t think the world is indifferent on this one.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Reflection on April 15, 1981

My wife was born the day after SJPII gave this address.

I found this talk both very interesting and somewhat confusing. I think I understand what SJPII is pointing to, but I am not sure I completely agree with the overall points he seems to be making. First, we look at the idea that there are two dimensions to our understanding of the body. There is the objective, the being of the body, and there is the subjective, the experiences we have of the body. These are not united after the fall and the further they are, the further we are from a Godly understanding of the body, where we got the term authentic subjectivity from.

SJPII begins to talk about art and the confusion that it can cause. Art, of a human body, is itself an object. It was created of some other material than flesh and bone, has no spirit, is not alive, it is an object. Therefore, a person should see it as an object, its objectification, its reduction, should be of no concern. SJPII disagrees with those assumptions because, after the fall, man does not have the ability to separate the image or art of a human body with the real thing. The art of a human body can have the same effects (often ill effects) on a person and on their heart or inner person. It might be odd to say it, but art of the human body should not be looked on in a reductive way and we can commit adultery in our hearts with an object, human art.

When you think about art and its effect on you, it is easy to see that this can happen. Pornography has an effect on you. But in a more positive sense, the image of a crucifix also has an effect on you. Both are objects of human forms, but because they are in human form, they affect us and our experience and therefore our view of what it means to be human. SJPII puts art (painting/sculptures) in a different category than film and photography. I assume that most photographers and film producers would disagree with that categorization. He seems to make the distinction because of the intervening set between the model and the finished product. A painting of a model still has touches of the painter’s interpretation in there, so you are not seeing the model, but the painter’s interpretation. A camera takes a picture and that is what the person would see if they were there. I questioned that thinking because I have seen, and posted examples, of what people can do with photo shop. What we see in a magazine maybe nothing like what was in front of the camera. And films are edited and graphics and special effects are added, new voices given, blemishes removed.

It seems to me that photos and film can be art, they are just the new canvases and materials that artist use. I would also question as to whether any painting or sculpture was ever done for the purpose of being erotic in a reductive sense. If that is the case, film can be art and art can be reductive, and it just seems very hard to make, what appear to be, generalizations about either type. I thought the bigger point, that art or images of the human body, must be treated as a actual human body because if you view them in a reductive sense, you can head down the wrong path, and we need to be careful not to fall into thinking “they are only pictures so it doesn’t hurt anyone to look at them with lust”.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Lumen Fidei - Day 5 - June 13, 2014

“Faith does not merely gaze at Jesus, but sees things as Jesus himself sees them, with his own eyes: it is a participation in his way of seeing.” In going through the Theology of the Body, seeing as God sees has come up many times as a measurement for how close we are to that original innocence. Here we see it in relation to Faith. Having faith means seeing as God sees, as we saw in the beginning, before the fall and before that separation caused by losing faith, losing trust in God.

I think there is a big distinction when it comes to belief that is often glossed over. Believing in Jesus and believing Jesus. (I am not I see the difference between “believing that what Jesus said is true” and “believing Jesus”) We here people ask if you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior. This would be believing in Jesus. But there are those that would say they have, but then ignore His straightforward teachings, for example, on divorce. They may believe in Jesus, but they don’t believe Jesus. How else can you ignore His teachings. (It is probably a whole other discussion as to whether you can truly believe in Jesus and not believe Him, but another day perhaps.)

“Far from divorcing us from reality, our faith in the Son of God made man in Jesus of Nazareth enables us to grasp reality’s deepest meaning”. I think the world would scoff at this statement. The world sees religion as a complete separation from reality, a way to escape the world and rely on something supernatural. Pope Francis urges that faith in Christ brings us into the very foundations of reality. As we go through The Theology of the Body, you realize how much our experiences in the world shape how we see ourselves and humanity. Seeing the world with faith in Christ gives a clearer vision of what is actually real. The world will never fully grasp reality without God because God is a real part of reality. The physical alone will only get you so far and without acknowledging God, you will be left with partial understanding. The world, with its Godless views, in fact, is the one divorcing themselves from reality.

“Once I think that by turning away from God I will find myself, my life begins to fall apart (cf. Lk 15:11-24). “ Isn’t this what we do so often when things don’t go our way? At the first sign of difficulty we try to fix things on our own. At the very moment when we need God the most, we try to rely on ourselves, and what may have been a small thing will become larger because “life begins to fall apart”. It is our challenge to turn to God at all times, but especially in need. Don’t wait until He is all we have left, until you are at rock bottom and God is all you can turn to. When you have that first incline that God is not working fast enough, when you think you can manage on your own, when you are losing patience, which is the moment to turn to Him the most. Before you go down the wrong path, before that first step, stop, step back, rely on Him, wait patiently for that Light of Faith, and listen.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Reflection on April 8, 1981

I don’t know if I have ever thought of our bodies as a task given to us by God. They are a gift from God that we are to respect as stewards, they are not ours to do whatever we want, and so in that light I can see that they establish a task that we are to work out in this life. A way to accomplish that task, the way that we are given the greatest example of, and the way that SJPII would say we learn the most about being human, is to make yourself a gift. If the body is a task, it is accomplished through the gift of self.

When you look at your body as an organism, you are only looking at it from one side. You will treat your body as an object, an “object of manipulation”. We can see this in the world very clearly. When I read this, I thought of the increasing number of stories we are hearing about children, sometimes very young, being allowed to call themselves he when they are a she, or vice versa. Not only is this a manipulation, it is something that a growing number are claiming to be healthy and liberating. If our body is a task, and specifically our gender is part of that task, given by God, what does it mean to try and change that. That is where the world is going. That is treating the body as an object, an object that can be manipulated in any way we choose. It stems from the same attitude that sees a fetus as merely a clump of cells, or an elderly person as a waste of space, time, and money.

SJPII does not discount science, and neither has the Catholic Church. You will never find a document that doesn’t fully understand that the study of science can give human life many benefits, that God created science and uncovering those mysteries is to be encouraged. But science must be pursued in unity with spiritual guidance, “otherwise, such knowledge can have quite the opposite effect”. It becomes obvious when you look at what the world is doing to the body without guidance.

I wondered while reading this, was Vatican II (1962-1965) and Humane Vitae (1968) too late? Was the boulder already heading down the mountain too fast and too big to stop? What if we had those in the 1920’s, when Eugenics and contraception really started to bubble up? Humane Vitae came as a surprise too many because of what the world’s opinion was on contraception and life. The pendulum had already swung, and too many, Humane Vitae confirmed the Catholic Church as a stale and ancient religion living in the past and not able to survive in the modern world. (sound familiar) I do wonder if we will have a Humane Vitae on marriage and homosexuality in the next 5-10 years and whether, like Humane Vitae, many will expect a changing of Catholic teaching and be surprised when the Church sticks to its teaching and if people will ignore it as confirmation of a stale and ancient religion living in the past and not able to survive in the modern world. You wonder if that future Humane Vitae has not been written 10 years ago if things might not have been more affected.

The Church’s reaction time seems very slow. On one hand I understand because they want to get it right, on the other, it seems like they miss the opportunity to be affective. When you look at the contraception issue and Humane Vitae, add the sex abuse scandal and the slow reaction to that, there are 2 or 3 generations that see a Church missing the ball on dealing with a world that is spiraling down a drain. If we count the homosexual push, go back to 1920 and the eugenics push, we are talking about 100 years of moral decay that the Church has been late in standing up and really voicing its opinion and shining its light. All that seems a pretty harsh opinion and to be fair, the teachings of the Church on such issues have not changed and have always been there for those that want to look. But new statements clearly establishing that authority seemed to be lacking and the world drifts further and further away.

Words I looked up.

Pedagogy - the art or science of teaching; education; instructional methods

Lumen Fidei - Day 4 - June 12, 2014

“On the basis of an individualistic and narrow conception of knowledge one cannot appreciate the significance of mediation”. I thought this was an interesting thought. What I took from it is the people want to do it on their own, people are individualistic. We need a mediator; God has shown that He wants us to have a mediator. Relying on a mediator takes faith, takes acceptance and obedience. I find there is a disconnect when you look at a belief in Christ but not religion (look at the non-religion movement) and how individualistic that is, but they appear to argue that all they need is their faith. The two, it appears to Pope Francis, are intertwined. The people’s faith in God relied totally on their mediation with Moses.

I have never thought about the Old Testament heroes having Faith in Christ to come. You wonder if any of them, or many of them, received visions of what was going to happen. If Moses, 2000 years before Christ, was told that the Son of God would come down, take on human form, die for our sins, and rise again, and his Faith was built on that, I feel I can relate more to him. That is no different than what my faith is based on. I believe that those things have happened, but I was not there and didn’t see them. They have been revealed to me, mainly though the Word of God, the same Word spoken to Moses on the mountain. Moses and my faith are built on the same foundation of Christ, only one is looking ahead and one behind.

I think it is worth reflecting about God just being in some other realm, perhaps setting things in motion but not being able to interact with us. That is simply not the all powerful God we confess to believe in. If you believe God cannot interact in the world, you simply do not believe in the Christian God. It is very similar to what St. Paul says about Christ death. If you don’t believe He rose, then your belief is really meaningless. Christ rising is essential to Christian belief and that requires a God that can interact with the world. Faith pushes us in that direction, but it must be understood that God is Truth and Faith must be complete. There are so many (Catholics included and probably more so) that want to pick and choose which Christ they want to follow or what teaching they want to believe. That is the world, that is individualistic, that is not what Israel got from their mediator; it is not we received from The Mediator. One Christ, One Church, One Truth, that is what we were given, that is what the Light of Faith leads us to and what the world works to destroy.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Lumen Fidei – Day 3–June 11, 2014

I thought the line describing parenthood as the “aspect of human life which has always appeared most "full of promise", namely, parenthood, the begetting of new life” was very reflective. I think it is true. There is a lot to the idea and the thought of wanting to be a parent and there is no more important job a person will have. It is such a challenge to know whether you are doing the right thing by your child or completely screwing up. But I might question whether it is the aspect “most full of promise” anymore. It seems like more and more people are choosing to not have children. It is a sad, maybe the saddest, commentary on the world that people are so wrapped into themselves that they cannot give that up to give their lives to a child. In a world where having a child is not as prevalent, you wonder if the lessons of Abraham and his sacrifice, and in relation the sacrifice of God in His son Jesus Christ, isn’t missed by a generation that thinks child rearing is old fashioned and too time consuming. What does a person that shrugs off the idea of parenthood so easily think of their relationship with God as Our Father?

I have never heard that the opposite of faith is idolatry. That is very interesting. One of the reasons given for losing faith is the patience it takes to wait for God. With that in mind, it seems an easy jump to seeing a world that wants everything instantaneously to stop waiting for God and turn to something that gives results right now. I think that is why taking time to just be still and silent is such an important part of any prayer life. Taking time to get away and be still, to be completely inefficient in the eyes of the world, is exactly what you need to find the light the God is trying to shine. In playing off the saying that was used, in the silence you can turn from the face that is not a face to the Face we are meant to see.

I was trying to find one of my own pictures showing light shining down through St. Peter’s, but this one will due.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Lumen Fidei – Day 2 – June 10, 2014

Pope Francis states that Vatican II was to ”restore the primacy of God in Christ to the centre of our lives”. But since Vatican II we have seen God pushed to the side. Many see Vatican II as a change in the church into something that is more modern, opening the door to changes in teaching, allowing for things that the world is more willing to accept. Many feel that changing Catholic teaching will bring more people into the Church and will allow it to become the center of their lives. But changing the Church and its teachings was not the point of Vatican II. Yes, they attempted to make the Church more accessible to people, but that is so people would change, not the Church. People were supposed to go deeper in their faith because they could relate more to the Mass. Going deeper would encourage them to make God the center of their lives. Instead, many have taken Vatican II as permission to change the Church and its teachings, weakening it as a whole, dragging it down to a lower level, and giving people an excuse to push it to the side or leave altogether.

Yesterday, Pope Francis talked about the light of Faith, but the image he uses here is something I have never heard before. “But what is it like, this road which faith opens up before us?” The light of Faith is a gate to a new road, or to use a related analogy, a road that is lit for us instead of dark. Your life is a road that you travel on and when you travel with the Light of Faith, you will simply see things better, clearer, as the truly are. To walk this road in darkness, without the Light of Faith, is to walk it in a way you were not meant to. It is the same path, seen in two very different ways. Which way will you choose? It made me think of how much we worry about things. How much more worried would you be driving down the road at night without headlights? How much more confidence would you have with your headlights on? When we worry about traveling on the road of our life, stop and think how well we are letting the Light of Faith shine and whether that is why we cannot see as clearly as we could, not have as much confidence and hope in the future as we should.

Words “when spoken by the God who is fidelity, becomes absolutely certain and unshakable”. We hear in Revelation that God speaks out against anyone that would change any of His words. That is because they are promises; they are what Faith is built upon. Abraham heard God and acted, that was his act of Faith. We hear God through His words and are called to act. That is our Faith. We can quickly see what happens when the words are easily changed or when their importance is taken away, the foundation of our Faith begins to deteriorate. That is why the Bible, as it is meant to be given, is so important, why the books that were established need to be upheld, and why the interpretations of those words need to be firm and singular. Faith cannot be firmly established when interpretations of the Words are all over the place. Back to our image, if you have ever had headlights that were not aligned properly, you know how difficult it is when the light that guides you is not pointing in the right direction.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Lumen Fidei - Day 1 - June 9, 2014

I think it is easy to see why people worshipped the sun. Its power is awesome. Everything that lives (almost everything) relies on it. It wouldn’t take long to see that a plant with not sunlight would shrivel and die. You can physically feel the warmth on your face and should be in awe of it, even if we know it is a ball of fire billions of miles away. But in a quick few words, early Christians put it into perspective. "No one — Saint Justin Martyr writes — has ever been ready to die for his faith in the sun". How many died for the light that was given to them through Christ, the growth of the early Church was watered by the blood of the martyrs. Even today, actions against personal interest for the faith are what will evangelize far more than the words we speak.

There are those that still look for “light” in sources that are not God. There are many that look specifically in any place but God because the world has been convinced God is an old fashioned myth and a waste of time. “In modernity, that light might have been considered sufficient for societies of old, but was felt to be of no use for new times”. As Pope Francis describes Nietzsche, he would say that belief in this light actually blocks a person from seeking the truth and true light that will liberate humanity. As the world tried to put reason and faith side by side, faith was seen as the filler for everything that could not be proved by reason. But this road grew less and less satisfying and lead to the pushing of faith out of the conversation completely.

But without light, you become blind. You cannot walk a straight path, you cannot tell the right way from the wrong, and you lose sight of the end and just stumble from one thing to another without any sense of direction or goal. That is where the world goes when the light of Faith is removed, when God is taken out. It moves from one project to the next, right or wrong doesn’t matter, direction doesn’t matter, and effect doesn’t matter. The world is lost because it wants to stumble in the dark and refuses to turn on the light.

“The light of faith is unique, since it is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence.” I love this line. And it can only come from God. The further we move away from faith in the world, the darker it gets and only the light of faith in God can shed the light we need to begin walking in the right direction.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Reflection on March 18, 1981

This quote is actually from the last one, but I wanted to restate it and digest it some more because I think it is very important moving forward.

“It is difficult to express more concisely what the mystery of the Incarnation brings with it for every believer. The fact that the human body becomes in Jesus Christ the body of God-Man obtains for this reason, in every man, a new supernatural elevation, which every Christian must take into account in his behavior with regard to his own body and, of course, with regard to the other's body: man with regard to woman and woman with regard to man.”

I think it is hard for many to believe change in the human body is possible when it is not a physical change. But relate this back to the fall. Adam and Eve had no physical change but were changed non-the-less. Christ becomes the incarnate God-Man and takes the human body in the opposite direction. But, if you do not believe in our first parents, the fall, that change, what did Christ com for, why did he become man? The fact of His incarnation is the process of transforming us back to the beginning.

But the incarnation was only a step. Through Christ incarnation, all human beings become Temples of the Holy Spirit. We see that not all turn away from sin, not all believe in Christ, etc. What Christ does and teaches after the Incarnation has importance in steps guiding us to Heaven, but the Incarnation is an important step that opens the door for every human to receive salvation, to join with God, just as Adam’s action shut that door. (I think you could say that every act Christ did while on Earth was of importance. I don’t think He wasted a single moment and there is something to learn in every detail).

We see that because the change has come to all humans (not just believers) SJPII says that we all have an inherent longing for purity. The dwelling of the Holy Spirit in all of us makes ”the human subject sensitive to that dignity which is characteristic of the human body by virtue of the mystery of creation and redemption”. There is a deep longing in all of us to live the life we were meant for and that dwelling of the Holy Spirit tries to break through the walls of sin we put around it. I think this goes along with the line (not sure who says it) my heart will not rest until it rest in God. Christ’s incarnation stirs that longing because our human bodies are changed into something they were not, or at least were not after the fall, before and this change brings a longing that can only be fill by God. I think we all understand what we are to do or not do with our bodies. There are many that ignore these feelings, but if they are honest, they feel the guilt and shame from their actions. They may push it back and not focus on it and maybe after a while they cannot hear it as well, but it is still there because they are human and inherited because of Christ’s Incarnation.

Thinking of yourself as a Temple can give you a visual of the effects of sin. The Temple is created when you are created, conceived. Although there is original sin that is also inherited, the Temple is there. In Baptism, the original sin is wiped away, cleaning the Temple. As we sin we tarnish the Temple, but it remains a Temple. Mortal sin is a separation from God. Perhaps at this point, the Holy Spirit leaves the Temple. It remains a Temple, only empty. The Temple remains to be filled again by the Holy Spirit, when we allow God back in through reconciliation with God. If the Temple houses the Holy Spirit at the time of our death, we will be in union with God and on our way to Heaven. The Temple made need cleaning before we can enter Heaven (nothing unclean can enter Heaven), and this is the Catholic understanding of purgatory. Thinking of all humans as Temples of the Holy Spirit gives a new angle to argue against abortion, as well as other immoral actions taken against others.

Another look back. St. Paul writes “Do you not know that he who joins himself to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, 'The two shall become one flesh.” I thought this pointed to the importance of the conjugal act and the importance of it only taking place in marriage, of married couples not using contraception, and the Catholic teaching on homosexual marriage. The conjugal act is to becoming one flesh. That unity is a very important thing and the world uses it as something that is just done whenever you want.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Reflection on February 11, 1981

SJPII distinguishes between a virtue, which is discussed in this talk, and a gift. This is, as I stated earlier, one of the parts where I seem to be getting myself lost in deep water. There appear to be many nuanced distinctions between many things that I would have taken to be synonyms before reading all this. Virtue, gift, works, acts, life of the Spirit, they all seem a bit muddled in the same type of genre, but their destinations seem to matter a great deal and by not picking up on those, I feel I may be missing significant understanding. I can only hope that as we go on the distinctions will be flushed out in a more understandable way, but fair warning that the following reflection feels written by someone with a very wobbly foundation.

We are a Temple of the Holy Spirit. I think this adds a new dimension to SJPII understanding of the Theology of the Body. We have seen his arguments about why we are unique and special, made that way by God, what we learn from experience and why it is important to reach back for pure experiences, authentic subjectivity. But, and I think on purpose, that entire explanation, although it relies on the revelation of God through the creation narrative and Christ words, did not deal with the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. In a way, being the Temple of the Holy Spirit becomes a completely new premise for the reason to remain pure. I guess you could say we the “Temple” was made in such a way to be the home, but I don’t think that is necessary. The creation narratives and St. Paul’s description of us as a Temple, although both explaining the same necessity for purity and what we should be, seem to prove the same without needing each other. I think that shows the strength of SJPII earlier analysis and the importance of human purity to our lives and being human.

I was a bit, not sure the best word, confused maybe, when it was talking about the body being a Temple for the Holy Spirit applying to all of humanity. I was thinking about the Sacraments in the Catholic Tradition and how during those Sacraments, we are taught, that you receive the Holy Spirit. My education on all the Sacraments may be a bit lacking, so maybe it is that we receive the Holy Spirit in a special way during them, I just thought it was a bit odd to think everyone, even non-Christians, are a Temple of the Holy Spirit. (When you are baptized, you receive the Holy Spirit, as well as when Confirmed) It makes sense that everyone would have it if this is meant to explain a part of the Theology of the Body because the creation narrative explanations did not distinguish. SJPII explains that all human bodies become Temples of the Holy Spirit through Christ incarnation. When Christ becomes man, man (human beings) is given the gift because of their relationship in unity with Christ. They inherit that mark from God because of Christ act, because of His coming into humanity, and therefore it transforms all mankind.

Whenever I have heard “you are a Temple of the Holy Spirit”, I have always gotten the sense that it is a personal appeal, for me to act in a manner that would befit a Temple of such a great thing, of God. As I was thinking about this and trying to see every human, I wondered if this language isn’t also suitable for reflection on how we treat others. Everyone you meet and interact with is a Temple of the Holy Spirit. I recently read an article asking how any Christian can be pro-choice. This type of thinking also makes me wonder about that question. But even further than that, the way we treat our neighbors, our friends, co-workers, spouses, children, everyone is a Temple of the Holy Spirit. Imagine if you went around acting as such. Even though it is a different route, you get to a very similar reflection as we had before in trying to see the world and everything that happens through God’s eyes.