Letters From a Young Catholic

My reflections as a Catholic young adult passionate about the Faith, seeking to grow in knowledge and understanding of God and discerning the will of the Lord in my life.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Pastoral Letter on Theology of the Body

The things you come across when you actually have free time on your hands...

I was just surfing the internet looking up some information on Theology of the Body and I came across the following pastoral letter written by Bishop Joseph Myers. The letter is titled A THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION ON THE HUMAN BODY. It speaks of Advent and the Theology of the Body so I just had to post it!

Here are some of my favourite excerpts from the letter.

"For a Christian, the body's significance is good, inescapable, and central; Christianity itself cannot be understood apart from an appreciation of the body. It is a myth that the Catholic Church teaches as it does about sexuality because it undervalues sex. The Church teaches as it does because it values human sexuality so highly. And in valuing sexuality, it necessarily values the body."

"Sex, then, is not a code word for discrimination or what the civil rights lawyers call a "suspect category." We are obliged to take sexual differentiation seriously, indeed to reverence it, for, written into our very chromosomes, it is part of the gift of creation and an expression of God's will."

"God gives only good gifts. As one of these, our bodiliness is a blessing. The refrain running through the first chapter of Genesis—"And God saw that it was good"—drives home this point. And after the creation of man and woman (in God's own image, we are told), there is an important shift: "And behold, it was very good" (Gen 1.31)."

"Bodiliness also deeply affects how we worship and pray. This is clearest in the sacraments. God uses tangible, 'fleshy' things like bread, wine, oil and water as signs and symbols of his sacramental grace. He takes us most seriously as bodily beings in the Eucharist. By allowing us to receive his very Body and Blood, Jesus forges a one-flesh unity between himself and someone who receives him. This unity—akin to the one-flesh unity of husband and wife made tangible in the physical act of love-making—is both spiritual and physical."

"What is true of the sacraments is true also of the rest of the life of prayer. Our bodies participate in our praying. We spontaneously kneel in the presence of our Lord and God when engaged in either communal or personal prayer. We turn naturally to physical objects and sensual signs—candles and bells, incense and statues, stained glass and crucifixes, rosary beads and holy cards, chant and sacred music, icons and countless other sacramentals—to help us pray."

Well, I'm not going to post the whole letter, but you should go read it. Really, you should. It's a good solid but easy to read introduction to the Theology of the Body for anyone who is unfamiliar with this "time bomb" (as George Weigel puts it...).