Body care and discipline PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 13 May 2015 14:19

REFLECTION

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

While it’s true that Christian life puts a lot of emphasis on disciplining the body, we should all be reminded that the body actually has to be taken care of very well and the potentials of its masculinity or femininity have to be developed as fully as possible, but always at the instance of the spirit of faith, hope and charity.

Let’s always remember that our body is an essential part of our humanity. It’s meant to be animated by a spiritual soul whose life is always a participation of the life of God. As our catechism would put it, our body “participates in the dignity of the image of God.” If we know how, we can and ought to see God in our body!

The danger our body poses to our spiritual life happens only when it is left on its own, ruled simply by instincts and emotions, and by the purely worldly values and conditionings. Otherwise, it should be all-systems-go for taking care of it and developing it to the max, not only in terms of health but also in terms of physical beauty.

We, of course, should be wary of that danger, since because of the effects and consequences of our sins, we are always vulnerable to it. So we cannot over-emphasize the need for bodily mortification and discipline.

In fact, to be realistic, we always need to subject our body to some discipline, sometimes of the severe kind because our body is always weak no matter how strong it looks physically. It will always tend to indulge itself to madness, often falling into some forms of addiction and bondage. It’s our built-in potential traitor.

But when properly guided by faith, hope and charity, our body care and discipline would stay away from any occasion and temptation to fall into things like vanity, pride, sensuality and the like. It would become an instrument of giving glory to God and of loving and serving everybody else.

A pertinent prayer I like so much is the following: ‘Let flesh and heart and lips and mind sound forth our witness to mankind, and love light up our mortal frame till others catch the living flame. Amen.”

Yes, indeed, our body materializes the spiritual love proper to us. The impulses of faith, hope and charity should somehow be expressed in it, in spite of its limitations. It can be a most effective instrument to attract others to God, and to transmit to others all that is true, good and beautiful that in the end come from God. In fact, the body is often referred to as the temple of the Holy Spirit, the house where God dwells in us.

It’s not true that our body, per se, is bad, as some people in the past and even in the present think. A group in the past, called the Manicheans, considered the body as intrinsically bad. Nowadays, we have some sectors of the puritan mould that think along the same lines. No, the body is not intrinsically bad, though it can be bad if we are not careful.

We should then have constant concern for the care and discipline that is appropriate for our body. We cannot underestimate the danger our body is always exposed to. We should be well guarded against such danger, training our body instead to be filled with love for God and for others that is proper to it.

It would indeed be good that everytime we see or consider our body, we should be reminded of these basic truths about it and come up with an appropriate plan to bring these truths into reality.

We have to develop a certain sense of dominion over it, not only in the sense of controlling and purifying it only by way of discipline, but also of enhancing its potentials, especially guiding it to learn how to love God and others. It has to radiate a certain joy proper to us.

We actually cannot afford to be casual about this concern. If we are still in the dark about strategies and programs to put our body in its proper state, then it’s about time we start learning by studying, consulting and seeking advice from those who can help us.

We should try our best to avoid being at the mercy of purely bodily impulses and worldly conditionings insofar as our body is concerned. This is also another topic that has to be ventilated more openly so that we can develop a global culture of body care and discipline proper to us.