Reconnecting the "without" of our Body and the "within" of our Heart
Love is rooted in the innermost depths of the human heart. When this self-sacrificing, total
mutual self-giving takes place between two spouses, a man and a woman, in their sexual union, romantic love is deeply connected to what is good and right in God's eyes. The heart and body are reconnected "by reconnecting body and heart", the "without" (exterior) of man
with the "within" (the interior, heart, soul, spirit). "Christ introduces a new morality (ethos), a
new way of living as an embodied (body – soul) person." (S. Torode, p. 102) Constant self-examination of our hearts is a necessity to see whether our innermost thoughts and actions are directed toward redemption of the body – toward guarding our hearts and controlling our impulses.
This cannot be done without an intimate and ongoing personal prayer relationship with Jesus Christ in which we both speak and listen. It is a relationship in which Wisdom Himself points out to us the persons, places, and things we must avoid that build lust of all three kinds in our hearts.
We must be willing to persevere through temptation that is enhanced by the images we see embedded in the Media and on the streets.
Self mastery is a life-long process. If we have grown accustomed to giving into our impulses, this weakness must be balanced by frequent and sincere Confession. The grace of Reconciliation gives us forgiveness, wipes the slate clean – we have fallen, repented of it,
and risen again. But our impulses bring images into our inner most thoughts the longer and more frequently we have given into them. These images, easy to acquire continue to haunt us back to the slavery that giving in to our sinful impulses brings with it.
As we persevere and are willing to suffer, we "will begin to experience the body as a gift" (Torode, p. 103) – as the temple of the Holy Spirit – a gift that has been ransomed for us by the passion and death of Christ.
Freedom will come gradually. It is the result of persevering in self-control and it is the foundation of love between persons.
We will grow in purity of heart which will make it possible for us to act with self-giving, self-sacrificing, total love between ourselves and our spouses. Our bodies and hearts will grow in their connectedness.
True purity must begin in the heart for the heart is the dwelling place of our innermost thoughts and values. These values are the source from which our bodily actions spring.
Our conversion journey must see a continuous growth in our "Living by the Spirit." We can
not do this on our own and the good news is that we don't have to! Our strength to grow in living in the Spirit is the power of Christ operating within us through the Holy Spirit. "God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us." (Rom. 5:5) (Sam Torode, pp. 104-08)
Freedom in the Spirit is made possible by the Transforming power of Christ's redemption.
As Teilhard de Chardin writes in his book, The Phenomenon of Man, Christ's redemption begins with the human, man, who is the leading shoot of evolution, but it is not limited to man. Christ saves the entire universe. He is part of Omega (God). It was through His Word (Christ) and for His Word that God, the Father created the entire universe. So, Christ is an
indispensable part in the evolutionary process. All evolution before Christ was a preparation for His coming. All development since His coming is simply the completion of His Mystical Body. Christ provides the basic elements of hope and love. Hope is essential to progress, the will to "keep going", and love is essential to convergence (humankind coming together)
and unity. Christ is the loveobject who will draw all men together. ( B.J. Fleury, What is Man?...p. 67)
Without this Love (Christ) dwelling in the innermost thoughts and values of our hearts we cannot escape the bondage of sin or gain freedom of spirit that will enable us to learn purity of heart.
If Purity of Heart is absent, the reconnecting of Body and Heart is impossible.
- Catechism of the Catholic Church.
English translation, United States Catholic Conference, Liguori, Mo., Liguori Publications, 1994.
- Deacon Bernard J. Fleury, Ed.D. Twenty-eight years of preparing couples for marriage, processing many difficult annulments, participation in Marriage Encounter and fifty-six years as a husband, fatherand grandfather.
- Deacon Bernard J. Fleury, Ed. D. What is Man? Male and Female. Bloomington,
Indiana, AuthorHouse. 2011.
- Dr. Richard A. Spinello. "The Rehabilitation of Charity," Homiletic and Pastoral
Review. Ignatius Press, 1348 10th Avenue, San Francisco, Ca., Volume CXI, No. 5, February, 2011.
- John Paul II. Man and Woman He Created Them, A Theology of the Body. Translation, Introduction, and Index by Michael Waldstein. Boston, Mass., St. Paul's
- St. Joseph Edition of The New American Bible. The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C., l970. Author uses this edition for endnotes in text.
7. Revised Standard Version most frequently used by English Translators and at times TheNew American Bible which differ at many points from the version used byJohn Paul II, namely, the official translation published by the Conference of Italian Bishops (CEI). Eg. of differences is Mt.5:28 RSV: "Everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." CEI version: "Whoever looks at a woman to
desire her instead of lustfully 21 times but uses lustfully 343 times.
8. Torode, Sam. Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body in Simple Language.
Lexington, Ky, Philokalia Books, 2008.