Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By John D. Meehan

10/23/2012 (2 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 (2 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'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for May 2015
Universal:
That, rejecting the culture of indifference, we may care for our neighbours who suffer, especially the sick and the poor.
Evangelization: That Mary's intercession may help Christians in secularized cultures be ready to proclaim Jesus.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Marriage & Family

'I needed the Lord in my life' How football legend hit rock bottom and found his way Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A roller coaster ride is how former Buffalo Bills quarterback, Jim Kelly, describes his life, with a series of heightening success and downfalls that made him realize what he ultimately was missing out on. The NFL hall-of-famer lost his 8-year-old son to a disease in ... continue reading


6 things you can do to make military families feel loved and supported Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Military families have unique circumstances and emotions that some may never encounter in their entire lives. Having family members away while serving the country, in constant danger, leaving again after only a few moments together is something unimaginable and those ... continue reading


'It felt like a car was backing over me' Real life mothers share stories on the pain of childbirth Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Due to the romanticizing of giving birth as part of the rosy life of a woman, a blogger decided to ask some mothers for their personal takes. Using different names for anonymity, most of the responding mothers gave horrific descriptions on the pain endured, far from ... continue reading


What about the First Amendment? School prohibits student from including popular Bible verse in project Watch

Image of For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Sixth-grader Mackenzie Fraiser initially planned to include the famous Bible verse John 3:16 as an inspirational quote for her school PowerPoint presentation. However, she was discouraged after in an earlier assignment about self-esteem, the same teacher has now ... continue reading


Have dogs always been man's best friend? Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Forty thousand years ago, ancient man and the ancestors of modern, domesticated dogs shared the same space, contrary to what scientists initially believed. Based on earlier studies of the canine genome, today's dogs have evolved from their wilder and hostile ancestors, ... continue reading


How an amazing service dog forever changed his young owner's life Watch

Image of Service dogs make life much easier for those who suffer from diseases such as cerebral palsy or blindness.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A service dog has become a little miracle to his 11-year-old owner who is blind and suffers from daily seizure attacks. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The dog, named Flint, was given as a gift to little Alyssa, who began suffering from her condition when she was ... continue reading


Are you an attentive parent? Smartphone distraction can be dangerous Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Cellphones have become most parents' and child caregivers' source of guilt for the lack of attention they give to their kids while at playgrounds, according to a study completed by researchers from the University of Washington. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) ... continue reading


Director reveals why his new movie will shatter societal stereotypes on Down syndrome Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Purposely casting an actor who has Down syndrome to portray the lead in his upcoming movie, director Chris Dowling believes the film will shatter all outdated stereotypes society has against people with the condition. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - His new ... continue reading


School bus bully surprised with small gift that changed everything Watch

Image of An upset father prayed for help in solving his children's [not pictured] bullying problem.

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Texas father and his wife plans to work with school administration to fix the growing problem of bullying on the school bus, after learning how his own kid was harassed. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - However, the steps taken were not as effective as ... continue reading


How one woman's vision led to a special prayer box Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Angela Tomiye has been praying for strangers' after they leave their messages for God inside the prayer box she placed on top of Koko Head, a Hawaiian hill. The prayer notes people leave will be read and prayed for by an assembly of friends she organizes each week. ... continue reading


All Marriage & Family News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Sirach 35:1-12
1 One who keeps the Law multiplies offerings; one who ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 50:5-6, 7-8, 14, 23
5 'Gather to me my faithful, who sealed my covenant ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 10:28-31
28 Peter took this up. 'Look,' he said to him, 'we ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 26th, 2015 Image

St. Philip Neri
May 26: If one had to choose one saint who showed the humorous side of ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter