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Friday, September 19, 2014

We're at War with Ourselves!

This morning at Mass the first reading was from St. Paul's letter to the Corinthians about the resurrection of the body. Some of the Corinthians believed only the soul would rise; the body would rot in the tomb. But if that's the case the Incarnation makes no sense and, as Paul says, "If the dead are not raised, then Christ was not raised; and if Christ was not raised, your faith is worthless. You are still in your sins, and those who have fallen asleep in Christ are the deadest of the dead....[and] the most pitiable of men."

Yes, we are body/soul creatures, united irrevocably although we will be separated temporarily from "brother ass" when we die. Because of original sin, we lost the preternatural gifts: body/soul integrity (absence of concupiscence, the inclination to sin), infused knowledge, and bodily immortality. And so, ever after, our bodies and souls are at war with each other. We often want with our bodies what we know with our souls is immoral and bad for us. Reason and free will are no longer the natural masters of the passions. Instead we are inclined to follow the secular society's admonition, "If it feels good, do it!" or to rationalize evil like the popular song You Light Up My Life, with the lie, "It can't be wrong when it feels so right." 

Who would choose sin if it weren't so pleasant? Gluttony, lust, hatred, greed - they all feel so good at the time. Only later does one pay the price in indigestion, STDs, self-hatred, and the pain of isolation. 

Fr. John Hardon, S.J. explains the body/soul war writing:
[Adam]...did not experience within himself that division which mankind now understands so well. Our own indeliberate tendencies, we know, often oppose themselves to what we decide or want to do. The life of a man who wants to do well and avoid evil is literally a conflict, more or less violent, between reason which sees and approves the good and wants fewer tendencies. This conflict is variously described as a tension between spirit and flesh, between the interior and exterior man, or simply between soul and body. But in our first parents there was no such internal discord. Their integrity was "the absence of any resistance from their spontaneous tendencies, notably the sense appetite, in the performance of good or avoidance of evil." In a word it was a perfect dominion of animal and spiritual passion.
We can never be restored in this life to the integrity Adam and Eve experienced in the garden. But we can, by utilizing all the sources of grace available to us, strive toward the highest level of integrity we can. And all one needs to do to see the possibilities is to read the lives of the saints and realize that sainthood is exactly the life to which God calls us in Imitation of Christ. We can't do anything about death and most of us will never experience infused knowledge, but let's pray today for an increase in integrity. 

“The only real sadness, the only real failure, the only great tragedy in life, is not to become a saint.”
                                                                                                                                  Leon Bloy

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