The Holy See
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Soul and Body, closely united, relate to God

"The truth is that the flesh is the very condition on which salvation hinges. And since the soul is, in consequence of its salvation, chosen for the service of God, it is the flesh which actually renders it capable of such service. The flesh, indeed, is washed, in order that the soul may be cleansed; the flesh is anointed, that the soul may be consecrated; the flesh is signed (with the cross), that the soul too may be fortified; the flesh is shadowed with the imposition of hands, that the soul also may be illuminated by the Spirit; the flesh feeds on the body and blood of Christ, that the soul likewise may fatten on its God. They cannot then be separated in their recompense, when they are united in their service. Those sacrifices, moreover, which are acceptable to God — I mean conflicts of the soul, fasting, and abstinences, and the humiliations which are annexed to such duty — it is the flesh which performs again and again to its own special suffering. Virginity, likewise, and widowhood, and the modest restraint in secret on the marriagebed, and the one only adoption of it, are fragrant offerings to God paid out of the good services of the flesh. Come, tell me what is your opinion of the flesh, when it has to contend for the name of Christ, dragged out to public view, and exposed to the hatred of all men; when it pines in prisons under the cruellest privation of light, in banishment from the world, amidst squalor, filth, and evilsmelling food, without freedom even in sleep, for it is bound on its very pallet and mangled in its bed of straw; when at length before the public view it is racked by every kind of torture that can be devised, and when finally it is spent beneath its agonies, struggling to render its last turn for Christ by dying for Him — upon His own cross many times, not to say by still more atrocious devices of torment. Most blessed, truly, and most glorious, must he the flesh which can repay its Master Christ so vast a debt, and so completely, that the only obligation remaining due to Him is, that it should cease by death to owe Him more — all the more bound even then in gratitude, because (for ever) set free.

To recapitulate, then: Shall that very flesh, which the Divine Creator formed with His own hands in the image of God; which He animated with His own Spirit, after the likeness of His own vital vigour; which He set over all the works of His hand, to dwell amongst, to enjoy, and to rule them; which He clothed with His sacraments and His instructions; whose purity He loves, whose mortifications He approves; whose sufferings for Himself He deems precious; — (shall that flesh, I say), so often brought near to God, not rise again? God forbid. God forbid, (I repeat), that He should abandon to everlasting destruction the labour of His own hands, the care of His own thoughts, the receptacle of His own Spirit, the queen of His creation, the inheritor of His own liberality, the priestess of His religion, the champion of His testimony, the sister of His Christ! We know by experience the goodness of God; from His Christ we learn that He is the only God, and the very good. Now, as He requires from us love for our neighbour after love for Himself, so He will Himself do that which He has commanded. He will love the flesh which is, so very closely and in so many ways, His neighbour — (He will love it), although infirm, since His strength is made perfect in weakness (2Cor.12: 9); although disordered, since "those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick;" (Luke 5: 31) although not honourable, since "those members of our body that we think less honourable we clothe with greater honour" (1Cor.12: 23); although ruined, since He says, "I am come to save that which was lost;" (Luke 19: 10) although sinful, since He says, "I desire rather the salvation of the sinner than his death;" (Ezek. 18: 23) although condemned, for says He, "I shall wound, and also heal." (Deut. 32: 39) Why reproach the flesh with those conditions which wait for God, which hope in God, which receive honour from God, which He helps ? I venture to declare, that if such casualties as these had never befallen the flesh, the bounty, the grace, the mercy, (and indeed) all the beneficent power of God, would have had no opportunity to work."

Tertullian, De Resurrectione Carnis, 8 – 9.



O God, Your divine Son, who took flesh in the most pure womb of the Virgin Mary, wished to experience all the weakness of our human condition except sin. Grant us the grace of following His example, so that by His Passion, Cross and Resurrection we too may rise to Eternal Life. We ask You this through Our Lord Jesus Christ…..


 By Ateneo Pontificio "Regina Apostolorum"