Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By John D. Meehan

10/23/2012 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

We must understand that the Catholic Church emphasizes the integral unity of human nature.

Blessed Pope John Paul II gave the reason why it is no minor matter whether a person is loved or not loved: "Man cannot live without love. He remains a being incomprehensible to himself. His life is senseless if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it"

Highlights

By John D. Meehan

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/23/2012 (3 years ago)

Published in Marriage & Family

Keywords: John D. Meehan, marriage, family life, love


HOOKSET, NH (Catholic Online) - This is a repeat worth reflecting upon again. Some time ago, on a visit to the United States, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta spoke of the glutted bellies and emaciated hearts of the people living in the United States: "In the Third World, there is often a famine of the stomach due to the lack of food, but the people are rich in love. They share what little they have with one another. In developed nations like yours (America) there is an abundance of food. But there is often a famine of the heart due to a lack of love. The victims of this famine of love are the new poor. And who are these poor people? They are the people sitting next to you."

Blessed Pope John Paul II gave the reason why it is no minor matter whether a person is loved or not loved: "Man cannot live without love. He remains a being incomprehensible to himself. His life is senseless if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it"

There is, then, an integral connection between a love-being and his or her becoming loved or loveable: "Love, then, seems to be both a state of being and [a condition] of becoming. In fact, love poems and love songs continue to attest always to the inner urge of the human heart for a love that lasts, longing for an everlasting love, a hunger for eternal love. Love is . . . a journey, an ongoing exodus out of the closed, inward-looking self towards its liberation through self-giving, and, thus, towards authentic self-discovery and, indeed, the discovery of God" (Pope Benedict XVI)

In 1965, the Fathers of Vatican Council II addressed the lamentable condition of the closed, loveless, inward-looking self: "Many, it is true, fail to see the dramatic nature of this state of affairs in all its clarity for their vision is in fact blurred by materialism, or they are prevented from even thinking about it by the wretchedness of their plight. Others delude themselves that they have found peace in a world-view now fashionable.

There are still others whose hopes are set on a genuine and total emancipation of humankind through human effort alone and look forward to some future earthly paradise where all the desires of their hearts will be fulfilled.

Nor is it unusual to find people who, having lost faith in life, extol the kind of foolhardiness which would empty life of all significance in itself and invest it with a meaning of their own devising.

Nonetheless, in the face of modem developments there is a growing body of people who are asking the most fundamental of all questions or are raising them with greater clarity: What is humanity? What is the meaning of suffering, evil, death, which have not been eliminated by all this progress? What is the purpose of these achievements, purchased at so high a price? What can people contribute to society? What can they expect from it? What happens after this earthly life is ended?" (Pastoral Constitution on the Church, no. 10).

As mentioned, CONSCIOUS SPIRITUAL EXISTENCE emerges from a COMPOSITE WHOLE BEING comprised of BODY, SOUL, AND SPIRIT. Human nature, then, is a spirit-filled organic entity. This is true because human beings are an image of God: "Man is the summit of the Creator's work, as the inspired account [in the Book of Genesis] expresses by clearly distinguishing the creation of man from that of the other creatures: "God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." Man occupies a unique place in creation: (1) he is "in the image of God"; (2) in his own nature he unites the spiritual and material worlds; (3) he is created "male and female"; (4) God established him in his friendship" (Catechism, no. 343).

Reality? This is reality! The Catholic Church expounds on this truth of human existence:  "Of all visible creatures only man is "able to know and love his Creator." He is "the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake," and he alone is called to share, by knowledge and love, in God's own life. It was for this end that he was created, and this is the fundamental reason for his dignity" (Catechism, no. 356).

Thus, the Catholic Church emphasizes the integral unity of human nature: The human person, created in the image of God, is a being at once corporeal and spiritual. The biblical account expresses this reality. It affirms that "then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." Man, WHOLE AND ENTIRE, is therefore willed by God"     (Catechism, no. 362).

Again, the Catholic Church stresses that HUMAN NATURE is CONSCIOUS SPIRITUAL EXISTENCE: :In sacred scripture, the term "soul" often refers to human life or the entire human person. But "soul" also refers to the innermost aspect of man, that which is of greatest value in him, that by which he is most especially in God's image: "soul" signifies the spiritual principle in man (Catechism, no. 363).

Lest it be ignored or misunderstood, the human body is an integral element of CONSCIOUS SPIRITUAL EXISTENCE. The body is a SPIRITUALIZED MATERIAL ENTITY precisely because it is animated by a spiritual soul: "Man, though made of body and soul, is [an integrated] unity. Through his very bodily condition he sums up in himself the elements of the material world. Through him, they are thus brought to their highest perfection and can raise their voice in praise given freely to the Creator. For this reason man may not despise his bodily life. Rather he is obliged to regard his body as good and to hold it in honor since God has created it and will raise it up on the last day"     (Catechism, no. 364).

Since it is an "out-looking" physical structure, the body demonstrates that human beings exist for the Other (God) and for others: neighbors and the natural order of things. Indeed, the most intrinsic meaning of the human body is discovered in lived love-relationships. Practically speaking, then, the vocation of love begins with and through the human body.

At the same time, the human body is a "fence," as it were, separating one person from another. No one, for example, can look inside another person. The materiality of the human body hides everyone's inner self and his or her interior life. Better said, except for God, no person can look into the inmost being of another person: "Man judges by appearances, but God looks into the heart" (1 Sm 16:7).

In other words, the human body is a defined "boundary," so to speak, that sets each person apart and aside from every other person. The body, then, prevents anyone from seeing or touching the loves found in another person's heart. Furthermore, in a curious way, the human body causes every person to be a stranger to every other person.

Nevertheless, there is still a third dimension to the physicality of human nature. The human body serves as a "connector" between one person and another person. Everyone first meets another person through the human body. In fact, it is only through the body that a person can see and communicate with another person. Moreover, it is through the body that every person sees his or her "outer self" and, thereby, can approach other outward-looking persons.

In the postures and gestures expressed by the human body, every person can be seen in a somewhat visible way. Stated differently, one person can see another person in the way his or her body acts or reacts. Through the external movements of the human body, it is possible, on occasion for one person to see what the interior life of the other person might be like.

Nonetheless, the human body is still a solid "fence," a definite "boundary," yet a "connector" for relationships and communication. Unlike animals, however, the physicality of human nature is not lived by the bodily senses alone. The human person, a spirit-filled being, can rise above and go beyond the limitations of the sensory life. Thus, everyone seeks to be conscious of and, thus, deepen their lived love-relationships with God, others, self, and the world - even if it is at a distance.

"As defined in sacred scripture, the Catholic Church adheres to the COMPOSITE WHOLE of  human nature: "BODY, SOUL, AND SPIRIT" (2Th 5:23): The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the "form" of the body, that is, it is because of its spiritual soul that the body, made of matter, becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter. In man, there are not two natures united, but rather the union of spirit, soul, and body forms a single nature"
(Catechism, no. 365).

"When speaking of the integration and completeness of human nature, the Catholic Church returns always to the Creator-Spirit, God: "The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God - it is not "produced" by the parents - and, also, that the spiritual soul is immortal. The spiritual soul does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection" (Catechism, no. 366).

Given the fantasies and fallacies bandied about by the modern media, to secure the integrity of human nature and, thus, the identity of the human person, the Catholic Church imparts this instruction: "Sometimes, the soul is distinguished from the spirit. Saint Paul, for instance, prays that God may sanctify his people "wholly," with "body, soul, and spirit," kept sound and blameless at the Lord's coming. The Church teaches that this distinction does not introduce a duality into the soul. "Spirit" signifies that, from Creation, man is ordered to a supernatural end and that his soul can gratuitously be raised beyond all it deserves to communion with God" (Catechism, no. 367). 

Now, the "Who am I?" question, can be answered - with two words: being and becoming! BEING is who I am: a spirit-filled, composite entity created by God. BECOMING is how I choose freely to mature in the vocation of love given at the very moment of conception in my mother's womb. Therefore, the following presentations will continue to explain the vocation of love in terms that pertain directly to: the subjective order. "Male and female he created them."

-----

John D. Meehan has been involved in the lay apostolate of the Catholic Church since the close of the Second Vatican Council.  He resides in New Hampshire with his lovely wife Elizabeth. 

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for February 2016
Universal:
That prisoners, especially the young, may be able to rebuild lives of dignity.
Evangelization: That married people who are separated may find welcome and support in the Christian community.



Comments


More Marriage & Family

'What We Did When Mummy Got Cancer': Mother's heartbreaking discovery and the emotional way she told her children Watch

Image of Katherine Simpson-Jacobs wrote a children's book to explain what cancer is in a way young minds can understand (Katherine Simpson-Jacobs).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

When Katherine Simpson-Jacobs realized she had breast cancer, she had no idea how to tell her daughters. After several weeks of worry, she realized she wanted to write "What We Did When Mummy Got Cancer," a child's book to explain what cancer is and how to treat the ... continue reading


4 Ways to pray when your spouse struggles Watch

Image of Praying for and with our spouses is the best way to include God into the relationship (iStock).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Perhaps your relationship is struggling because one of you is involved in less than Godly activities, struggles with addiction, is experiencing emotional turmoil or perhaps struggling with their faith. What does the Bible say we should do when our spouse struggles? LOS ... continue reading


'We're family now': Bittersweet moment a mother hears her son's beating heart in a little gir's chest Watch

Image of Little Jordan received Lukas heart and has since been a care-free bundle of energy (Justice for Lukas Scot).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

After losing her 7-month-old son, Lukas, Heather Clark was able to hear his heart beating once again - from the chest of a 4-year-old girl. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In a heartbreaking tale, Clark's son, Lukas, fell prey to his babysitter's abusive boyfriend ... continue reading


Making a Difference - Abortion: out of sight, out of mind Watch

Image of

By Tony Magliano

Due to the blizzard that hit the mid-Atlantic, my bus never made it to the 43rd March for Life in Washington, D.C. But thousands of others were able to brave the snow and wind to witness to the dignity of unborn human life, and to protest the gravely immoral practice ... continue reading


'One of the meanest things I've ever seen in my life': One man's heartbreaking plea goes viral Watch

Image of Alan Beamer suffers the effects of Alzheimer's and begs his friends and family to talk to him normally (Mary Beth Alan Beamer/Facebook).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

In a heartbreaking video that Mary Beth Beamer posted to Facebook, her husband, Alan Beamer, begs for his friends and family to visit like they used to. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The four-minute video was posted on January third and received nearly 10,000 ... continue reading


Child abandoned in church Nativity reunites with biological family 44-years later Watch

Image of The Manger Baby was reunited with his biological family after waiting 44 years (ABC 13).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

DJ Williams was discovered abandoned in the St. Anne Catholic Church's nativity scene in 1971. Now, 44-years-later, he has been reunited with the siblings he never knew he had. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Two women found newborn Williams in the manger of the ... continue reading


You'll need to look twice to believe what Barbie is doing now! It's about time Mattel Watch

Image of Mattel releases diversified dolls (Mattel).

By Monique Crawford (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Mattel finally offers a diverse assortment of dolls that includes three new body types, seven skin tones, 22 eye colors, 24 hairstyles and hundreds of outfits and accessories. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - It seems Mattel has finally opened its eyes and has ... continue reading


'I can breathe again and talk': Emotional words from teen who wakes from surgery will leave you in tears Watch

Image of Trevor Sullivan woke from receiving a heart transplant and his words touched the world (Trevor Sullivan/Facebook).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Nearly a year after 15-year-old Trevor Sullivan was diagnosed with a serious medical condition, he received a gift that forever changed his quality of life. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - When Trevor was 14-years-old, he learned he was suffering from heart ... continue reading


Norwegian couple lose children for being 'very Christian' Watch

Image of The Bodnariu children were taken despite zero evidence of abuse (Norway Return the children to Bodnariu Family/Facebook).

By Monique Crawford (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Barnevernet, Child Welfare Services of Norway, removed five children from Marius and Ruth Bodnariu after the Bodnariu parents were accused of radicalizing and indoctrinating their kids with Christianity. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to World Magazine, ... continue reading


Huge crowds flood March for Life despite severe weather storm Watch

Image of Rough weather didn't deter marchers in the annual March for Life this year.

By CNA/EWTN News

Despite weather forecasts calling for what might end up being the worst blizzard in over a century, tens of thousands flooded the nation's capital Friday to support the dignity of life. Washington D.C. (CNA/EWTN News) - Rosalie Rwamakuba, a 20-year-old woman from ... continue reading


All Marriage & Family News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Kings 8:1-7, 9-13
1 Solomon then summoned the elders of Israel to Jerusalem to bring the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 132:6-7, 8-10
6 Listen, we heard of it in Ephrathah, we found it at ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 6:53-56
53 Having made the crossing, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 8th, 2016 Image

St. Jerome Emiliani
February 8: Jerome Emiliani lay chained in the dark dirty ... Read More