Aleteia

How treating your body with respect benefits your soul

Holy Spirit
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What we do with our bodies has a direct impact on our spiritual life.

Did you know that your body was created by God, good, holy and beautiful? It was not an accident that God created humans in a “bodily” way. In fact, “God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).

This means that our bodies are not somehow tainted, dirty or evil, but instead meant to image the beauty and glory of God!

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, “The human body shares in the dignity of ‘the image of God’: it is a human body precisely because it is animated by a spiritual soul, and it is the whole human person that is intended to become, in the body of Christ, a temple of the Spirit” (CCC 364).

However, living in a fallen world, it is not always easy to reflect God’s image through our bodies. We often forget that what we do with our bodies has a direct impact on our soul.

The Catechism continues, “Man, though made of body and soul, is a 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 freely given 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” (CCC 364).

This unity is profound, but it’s tempting in our world to value one over the other, to despise our body and instead lift up our soul (or despise our soul and lift up our body).

Instead, the pathway to spiritual union with God is to respect and value both our body and our soul, seeing them as part of God’s marvelous creation.

St. Paul wrote in his First Letter to the Corinthians, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

If we want to grow in our spiritual lives, one of the first steps is recognizing this fundamental truth. We can then begin to see our lives through a new lens, one that recognizes that everything we do with our body (through speech, gestures, actions, etc.) impacts our soul.

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