Monday, May 19, 2008

Mind, Body, Spirit

We are all created in the image and likeness of God. That is a basic tenet of my faith as a Catholic. God, I would imagine is a very beautiful being. So beautiful that we cannot even begin to imagine him or to bear to look him in the eye as a mortal. We have to wait to achieve the beatific vision when we die. Yet, paradoxically, God gives us a glimpse of his own beauty in all the people around us.

I see people who are beautiful and they take my breath away. Man or woman; it does not matter. I look at them and think, "Do you know how beautiful you are? Do you ever consider who gave you all of that beauty and who it represents?" Then I look at myself and think, "What does that say about me?"

Don't get me wrong, I do not consider myself an ugly person. No, I am attractive enough. I have just let myself go. I have gained weight (to really unhealthy proportions!) and have not cared for the body that God gave me with the attention that I might well give a fitting temple of the Holy Spirit. And I believe this lack of care affects me spiritually as well as physically.

St. Ignatius Loyola taught in his spiritual exercises that, being created in God's image, the human being is Trinitarian in nature: Mind, Body and Spirit. The Mind of the Father, the Body of the Son and the Spirit, well, of the Spirit. He taught that all three had to stay healthy in order for each of us to live our full potential in God's plan. I am beginning to believe that this is true.

A few years ago, I could not even kneel at the consecration. I was so overweight that I did not fit between the pew behind me and the pew in front of me while kneeling on the kneeler. Because I could not kneel, my daughter picked up the habit of resting her back end on the pew behind her, like I did, even though she is quite able-bodied. I was very angry at first and then realized that it was my fault and no one else's. My example had given rise to a lack of appreciation for the Eucharist on the part of my daughter! I decided, after observing what my fine example had done, to start to lose weight, which I have done. I am not as far along as I would like to be, but it is coming off slowly. And I DO feel better. I am able, now, to kneel properly. But more importantly, the three parts of what makes me a human being are beginning once again, to come into balance.

I have seen my mother struggle with her weight all her life. Recently, she has been working hard to lose it, but more than that, she is beginning to take special care with her appearance. Before she began to lose weight, she would just put on whatever came to hand to wear and just be done. Now, she takes time to pick out coordinated clothes and to put on some jewelry and to fix her hair (not much, but that's just Mom). She looks radiant. The joy that she has in her newly found energy and in having less pain, combined with her hours of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament have really transformed her.

I was visiting with a friend the other night, who had seen my mom at a function just this past weekend. She commented on how wonderful Mom looked. She said that is was such a joy to see my Mom come out of her shell and be the gorgeous woman that she is! And she is right. Mom has become one of the "beautiful people". But not Paris Hilton beautiful. She has become a glimpse of God's glory. That real beauty that takes your breath away.

At least, I think so...but I could be biased.


  1. The beauty inside is now getting a chance to be expressed through her appearance, from where I sit and observe.

    And she IS beautiful.

    MORE beautiful than Paris Hilton.

    Biased? Yep. And I like to think so is God. :)

    (Have you read Theology of the Body? This reflection of yours sounds TOB-ish to me...)

  2. I have never read TOB. This is just something that came up during prayer when I was doing Adoration. The most AMAZING things come to me while I am there! I knew it wasn;t an original thought, but it just struck me so much that I had to share.

  3. I'm with you on Adoration and things "occurring" - happens to me too! Every week! (And I write now during Adoration too, and have started taking some writing assignments with me, and wow. Just wow.)

    You should check out TOB. It's amazing. JP2 was pretty amazing, come to think of it. :)