Caring for our body
It certainly would be a wrong or questionable spirituality that would consider the body as intrinsically bad or the source of evil. There had been heresies that held this kind of belief in the past. But even up to now, traces of such heresies exist.
We need to remind ourselves strongly that the body is an essential part of our nature as created by God. It is originally good. It is meant to be good. We are a unity of body and soul.
Somehow St. Paul affirms this truth when he said: “Your bodies are the shrines of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in you. And he is God's gift to you, so that you are no longer your own masters. A great price was paid to ransom you. Glorify God by making your bodies the shrines of his presence.” (1 Cor 6,19-20)
Even if in death, there is some temporary separation of body and soul, there will also be a reunification of these two constitutive parts of our being in our definitive state either in heaven or in hell.
There is some kind of mutual relationship between the body and the soul. The state of the body both reflects and influences the state of the soul. And vice-versa. That's why there is such a saying that “when the body is well, the soul dances.”
We need to take care of our body, giving it its proper nourishment and rest. And resting does not necessarily mean doing nothing. It can mean a change of pace, of things to do that somehow gives the body a period of relaxation and of recovering its strength and vitality.
Resting can mean doing some physical exercises like brisk walking or biking that somehow oils the joints and makes one feel light. When the body is properly taken care of, one not only can work better, nor can undertake more rigorous activities. It enables one to better handle his spiritual activities like praying, making sacrifices, developing virtues, bearing weaknesses, resisting temptations, handling pressures and problems.
We should see to it that as much as possible we avoid overworking the body to such an extent that we experience what is called as a burnout. While it's good that at the end of the day we get tired, since that would mean that we have been working hard, we just the same should avoid getting burned out.
Neither should our resting and relaxing deteriorate into some kind of body cult where the intention for resting is not so much to recover our strength to get back to work as to indulge in vanity.
Our resting and relaxing should sharpen our desire to go back to work as soon as possible as a way of expressing and developing our love for God and for others. When we notice that this is not the case, we should react immediately, rectifying our intentions and asking for God's grace so that we return to our work with so much eagerness of love.
We also need to learn how to handle the unavoidable tiredness and even sickness and ultimately death that will always be part of our life. They are a state of weakness that can be a rich source of sacrifice that can be pleasing to God if offered and suffered with him.
We have to remember that these situations—tiredness, sickness, etc.—are not merely physical conditions. They also have a spiritual dimension that can be handled properly if we pray.
Let's remember Christ's words: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Mt 11,28).*
back to top