"Let unity, the greatest good of all goods, be your preoccupation." - St. Ignatius of Antioch (Letter to St. Polycarp)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Resurrection of the Body

"Resurrection of the Flesh"
Luca Signorelli (1450-1523)
(click on the painting to view it in a larger size)

In the Apostles' Creed, we say that we believe in the "resurrection of the body" [in the Latin: carnis resurrectionem, in the Greek: σαρκος ανάστασιν]. In the Nicene Creed we say that we "look for the resurrection of the dead" [προσδοκωμεν ανάστασιν νεκρων]. What does that mean?

Death and the Human Person
In order to answer that question, we have to consider the nature of the human person. A human being is a composite of body and soul. These are not two substances; that is why we are not "substance dualists". The body and soul are ontological principles, incomplete in themselves, but when substantially united form one being, i.e. one substance. It is mistaken to think that we are mere spirits (i.e. immaterial beings) using material bodies. And it is likewise mistaken to think that we are mere heaps of molecules, that is, mere biological machines. We each have a soul, which animates our body. The soul is by its very nature the form of a body. That is why we are not angels, and can never become angels, because angels by their very nature are complete and whole as immaterial beings. A human soul, however, is not a proper substance or whole by itself. The human person is a substance. The human person is not a soul. For this reason, when the body and soul are separated at death, the human being no longer exists, even though the souls subsists.

The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the "form" of the body: i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature." (CCC 365)

Though incomplete by itself, the human soul is immortal, because it has an operation that does not directly depend upon matter.

"The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God - it is not "produced" by the parents - and also that it is immortal: it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection." (CCC 366)

According to God's original design, Adam and Even would not have died. They were designed to be free from suffering and death, having been given the gift of immortality. The Council of Trent called this the donum immortalititatis (the gift of immortality). They had posse non mori (the possibility of not dying), which is not to be confused with non posse mori (the impossibility of dying). They would not have died, had they remained obedient to God. But they were capable of dying, if they disobeyed God, for God had told them, "in the day that you eat of it you will surely die" (Gen 2:17).

This is the sense in which death is unnatural; death is contrary to God's original design of human beings. All other things being equal, it is an evil for the body and soul to be separated. And that is why we experience death with such grief and pain. That is why death seems to us to be wrong, to be something that shouldn't occur. It shouldn't occur! Death came into the world through sin, i.e. human disobedience.

"Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned" (Romans 5:12) ... "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom 6:23)

By sin man lost the grace through which the various harmonies were maintained, including the ordered harmony between man's soul and body. By disrupting that harmony, i.e. that perfect ordered unity between body and soul, sin set in motion the eventual rupture or separation of the body and soul, and that separation is just what death is.

"By the radiance of this grace all dimensions of man's life were confirmed. As long as he remained in the divine intimacy, man would not have to suffer or die. The inner harmony of the human person, the harmony between man and woman, and finally the harmony between the first couple and all creation, comprised the state called "original justice" (CCC 376)
"Death is a consequence of sin. The Church's Magisterium, as authentic interpreter of the affirmations of Scripture and Tradition, teaches that death entered the world on account of man's sin. Even though man's nature is mortal God had destined him not to die. Death was therefore contrary to the plans of God the Creator and entered the world as a consequence of sin. "Bodily death, from which man would have been immune had he not sinned" is thus "the last enemy" of man left to be conquered." (CCC 1008)

"Explusion from Paradise"
Michelangelo (1508-1512)

After the fall, God expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, lest they stretch out their hand and eat of the Tree of Life, and not die. (Gen 3:22-23) This shows us that given our fallen condition, death is a gift, because God uses it redemptively for our sakes. Nothing brings to our attention the importance of our lives and the state of our soul as does an awareness of our impending death. The fact of our impending death brings an urgency to our lives and a greater meaningfulness to our actions. "[R]emembering our mortality helps us realize that we have only a limited time in which to bring our lives to fulfillment" (CCC 1007). The Psalmist prays, "Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom" (Ps 90:12) Keeping our death in view changes the way we live now. "In all thy works remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin." (Ecclus. 7:40)

Because death is the consequence of original sin (Rom 5:12), all men must die. And in that sense death is 'natural', and the virtuous person must come to terms with the inevitability of his death. But we usually do not know when we are going to die. And so we must always be ready to die. Jesus teaches, "For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will." (St. Matthew 24:44) And that applies no less to the hour of our death than it does to the Second Coming.

Our time is short. There is much work to be done for the Kingdom, and many of us fritter so much of our lives away with trivial, meaningless things. This life, these years, these days, and these hours, are our opportunity to serve God and His Church. St. Paul says, "If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are." (1 Cor 3:17) If that is what He will do to those who destroy His temple, how much more, do you think, God will honor and reward and bless those who build up His temple, i.e. His Church? We can do this in the simplest ways, even in our daily and ordinary activities. If we love Christ, building up His Kingdom, His Temple, His Church, is what our hearts will want to do.

Most men die as they live. If they live a life of vanity and dissipation, they die in their vanity and dissipation. Death-bed conversions are not the norm. So we must live as though we are dying. Thomas à Kempis wrote:

Every action of yours, every thought, should be those of one who expects to die before the day is out. Death would have no great terrors for you if you had a quiet conscience. . . . Then why not keep clear of sin instead of running away from death? If you aren't fit to face death today, it's very unlikely you will be tomorrow" - The Imitation of Christ

And yet we also pray for a good death, one in which have some time to prepare ourselves. In the Litany of the Saints of the Roman Missal, we pray, "From a sudden and unforeseen death, deliver us, O Lord." And in the Hail Mary, we say, "Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death." As Peter Kreeft points out, to be prepared for death, the question is this: Do we love God? Jesus said, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful" (Luke 10:41) That one thing is to love God.

For Christians, Christ has transformed death. Christ has taken the evil that death is, and turned it into an instrumental good, the means by which we enter into eternal life. St. Paul says, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil 1:21) In our death, we are granted the privilege of participating in Christ's death. "What is essentially new about Christian death is this: through Baptism, the Christian has already "died with Christ" sacramentally, in order to live a new life; and if we die in Christ's grace, physical death completes this "dying with Christ" and so completes our incorporation into him in his redeeming act" (CCC 1010)

In death, God calls man to himself. Therefore the Christian can experience a desire for death like that of St. Paul's: "My desire is to depart and be with Christ." He can transform his own death into an act of obedience and love towards the Father, after the example of Christ: (CCC 1011) In the saints, we see this same attitude toward death:

"My earthly desire has been crucified; . . . there is living water in me, water that murmurs and says within me: Come to the Father." - St. Ignatius of Antioch

"I want to see God and, in order to see him, I must die." - St Teresa of Avila

"I am not dying; I am entering life." - St. Thérèse of Lisieux

That is because as Christians, we are joined to Christ, who is the Resurrection. Jesus said, "I am the Resurrection and the Life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies." (John 11:25) Peter Kreeft writes, "Christ is not just the giver of the Resurrection, He is the Resurrection. Our resurrection is not just caused by Him, it is found in him. We rise because we are incorporated into Christ's Body." (Catholic Christianity, 135)

The Apostles were not just witnesses of Christ's teaching; they were also witnesses of His resurrection.

"To be a witness to Christ is to be a "witness to his Resurrection," to "[have eaten and drunk] with him after he rose from the dead." Encounters with the risen Christ characterize the Christian hope of resurrection. We shall rise like Christ, with him, and through him." (CCC 995)

Therefore all Christians likewise, are witnesses to the resurrection of Christ, and the forthcoming resurrection of the dead. We testify by our lives that we live for the "life of the world to come". (Nicene Creed)

We witnesses to the resurrection not just by our words, but through our deeds, our way of living, as pilgrims on our way to our fatherland. The early Christian martyrs were known by the pagans for being unafraid of death. They faced death as the finish line of a race (2 Tim 4:7-8), after which they would receive their eternal reward. St. Augustine writes:

"O how sweet it is to die, if one's life has been a good one! For such as he, to die is gain. To the just man death is only a passing into a better life. it is a journey to his everlasting home, where his heavenly Father dwells. Death is to be feared only by the sinner, for it is the end of his earthly pleasures, and the beginning of his eternal punishment."

As Christians, we recognize that death is inevitable, and we accept that. We also recognize that death is not the way God originally intended things to be, and so we mourn, feeling the pain of death's unnaturalness. And yet, ultimately, we also recognize the glory that awaits us. So in the face of death, we can rejoice in hope and eager expectation.

That is because we know something about what happens to us at death. At death, the soul is separated from the body, not extinguished. The soul does not become an angel. We then face what is called the particular judgment. God determines whether we go to hell, purgatory, or heaven. If we love God, and thus are not in a state of mortal sin, then, if we still have some stain of sin (even though our sins are forgiven), we go to purgatory to be purified so that we can enter heaven. If at death we love God, and our souls are purified of all the stain of sin, we go straight to heaven and see God, for Jesus tell us that the pure in heart shall see God. (St. Matthew 5:8) (Very few people are so holy at death that they need no additional purification.) If we die in a state of mortal sin, not loving God but having turned away from God in pride and disobedience, then at the moment of our death, God sends us to hell, eternally.

These two possible destinies presently lie before us. Christianity is entirely opposed to fatalism, for fatalism belittles what God has done in making rational creatures who, by their rationality, have the power of free choice and self-determination. Fatalism, through its deception robs such creatures of the awareness and understanding of the significance and meaning of our own free choices. As Kreeft points out, "God gave us the incredible and fearful dignity of deciding our own eternal destiny." (p. 136) This is precisely why Moses could tell the Israelites to "choose life" (Deut 30:19). And this is why when St. Paul was explaining the gospel to Felix the governor, Felix became frightened.

"But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, "Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you." (Acts 24:25)

With fatalism there is no reason for fear; you can do nothing about what is going to happen to you. Fear comes when we grasp the relation between our will and eternity, through the eternal consequence of our free choices. Grace builds on nature, it does not destroy nature. Likewise, the gospel does not destroy the judgment or sidestep it, or somehow sneak us through the judgment, as I discussed here. The gospel brings Christ to us, through Whom and by Whom and with Whom we are enabled to live righteous lives so that we can be unafraid on the Day of Judgment, not because we are trusting in Christ to cover over or hide our sinful life, but because through Christ we have not only been forgiven, but also by His grace we have put off our old sinful life and actually lived a life of charity and holiness.

The great lie is that we cannot actually be holy and righteous and pleasing in His sight, so we have to hide behind Christ. "We're only human, you know" is the line I hear so often. Christ calls us to be perfect, as our Father in heaven is perfect. (St. Matthew 5:48) He calls us to pick up our cross, and be saints, I mean truly be saints, not snow-covered dung heaps, not white-washed sepulchers full of sin but believing that that is fine so long as we're covered by Christ's blood. God is always about the really real thing; He never fakes it. He never solves problems by merely hiding them or covering them. That's precisely the mode of the deceiver. God brings what is hidden into the open. Jesus says, "For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it would come to light." (St. Mark 4:22; cf. St. Luke 8:17) The Christian does not hide his sins behind the blood of Jesus; he brings his sins out into the open, before the priest in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.

The "resurrection of the flesh" (the literal formulation of the Apostles' Creed) means not only that the immortal soul will live on after death, but that even our "mortal body" will come to life again. (CCC 990)

This happens by the reuniting of our soul with our bodily remains. In death, which is the separation of the soul from the body, the human body decays and the soul goes to meet God" in the particular judgment. Then it awaits reunion with its glorified body at the time of the general judgment. "God, in his almighty power, will definitively grant incorruptible life to our bodies by reuniting them with our souls, through the power of Jesus' Resurrection." (CCC 997)

The doctrine of the resurrection affirms that we are material beings, and that we are incomplete apart from our bodies. The last enemy to be destroyed is death, because death is the consequence of sin, and Christ has defeated both sin and death. So the resurrection is the culmination, the climactic manifestation of the extent of Christ's gift to us in his redemptive work. Part of our salvation is to be restored to fellowship with God, so that we can see Him and love Him forever. But another part of our salvation is having that harmony between our body and soul restored. Being resurrected is part of what means to be saved. God loves us, and wants to restore our bodies to us, so that we may be in our fully perfected state as human persons. How does Christ apply His work to us? Through the Eucharist. Jesus says:

"He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day." (John 6:54)

The doctrine of the resurrection can be found in the Old Testament, especially in 2 Maccabees 7:9,11,14,23, 29; 12:43-46. Here we see heroes dying martyrs deaths with the full expectation that these very parts of their bodies that are being removed by their torturers will be given back to them at the resurrection on the last day.

The Scripture teaches that everyone will rise, not just the righteous, but the unrighteous as well. All the dead will rise again on the last day with their bodies. The Athanasian Creed says, "On His coming all men with their bodies must arise." And Jesus Himself teaches this. He says:

"Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment." (John 5:28-29)

And St. Paul teaches, "that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked." (Acts 24:15)

The resurrection will take place on the last day. Jesus said, "This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day." (John 6:39; cf. John 6:44) And St. Paul likewise says, "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first." (1 Thess 4:16)

At that time (i.e. the last day), after our resurrection, we will be judged (and rewarded or punished in hell) at the general judgment. Jesus says, "But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." (Luke 14:13-14)

Many people have a difficult time believing in the resurrection. This was also true in the time of the New Testament. When St. Paul was preaching to the Athenians, the sermon was going well until he mentioned the resurrection. "Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer." (Acts 17:32) The Catechism confirms this. "From the beginning, Christian faith in the resurrection has met with incomprehension and opposition. (CCC 996) St. Augustine wrote, "On no point does the Christian faith encounter more opposition than on the resurrection of the body."

But the doctrine of the resurrection of the body is an essential dogma of the faith. To tamper with it is to reject Christianity altogether. St. Polycarp didn't mince words when he said, "whoever perverts the sayings of the Lord to his own evil desires and says there is neither resurrection nor judgment, that one is the first-born of Satan." That's because the whole of the Christian message hangs on the resurrection. If Christ is resurrected, then surely we will be as well. But if Christ was not resurrected, then Christianity is a sham, an empty deception. St. Paul makes this very point when he says, "For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished." (1 Cor 15:16-18)

We do not understand how God is able to do this, but we do know that with God, all things are possible. (St. Matthew 19:26) If God is able to make the human body out of nothing, then surely He is capable of reuniting our soul with our body.

This very body? Yes. What if it has been scattered all over the world, and over time incorporated into the bodies of many other living things, even other humans? With God nothing is impossible. The dead will rise again with the same bodies they had on earth; those same bodies that were placed in the graves will come out of the graves. Christ is our example here. He was raised with the very same body, the body that had been in Mary's womb for nine months. The Catechism says, "Christ is raised with his own body: "See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself" (CCC 999). The hands and feet He was showing His disciples were the same hands and feet that had been pierced at his crucifixion. When the third brother of the seven Jewish brothers was suffering at the hands of the pagans, he said this, "I hope to receive these (tongue and hands) again from Him (God)." (2 Mach. 7:11) And St. Paul tells us, "For this corruptible must put on incorruption: and this mortal must put on immortality." (1 Cor 15:53)

The Fourth Lateran Council (1215) stated definitively: "They will arise with their bodies which they have now." And St. Justin Martyr, in the middle of the second century, said this: "We expect to have again our dead and the bodies interred in the earth, by maintaining that with God nothing is impossible" (Apol. 1:18)

Even though we will rise with the very same bodies we presently have, at the resurrection our bodies will be changed; they will be glorified. "Christ will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, into a spiritual body" (CCC 999) Our resurrected body will be like Christ's : Christ "will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory" (Phil 3:21) His resurrected body showed continuity (consider the wounds in his hands, feet, and side). Yet it was also different, so different that at first His disciples did not recognize Him. We can note four ways in which the glorified resurrected body is transformed.

First, it is impassable (impassibilitas), that is, it will be incapable of pain, suffering, hunger, thirst, fatigue, sleep, heat, cold, sorrow, sickness, death. Consider the following Scriptures.

"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and death shall be no more. Nor mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow shall be any more: for the former things are passed away." (Rev 21:4)

"They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat." (Rev 7:16)

"Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory". (1 Cor 15:50-54)

Jesus says, "for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection." (St. Luke 20:36)

"If the earthly house in which we dwell be destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made by human hands, eternal in the heavens." (2 Cor 5:1)

Second, the resurrected body will have what is called subtility (subtilitas), that is, a spiritualized nature. We can see this especially in 1 Corinthians chapter 15. St. Paul writes:

"So also is the resurrection of the dead It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body." (1 Cor 15:42-44)

Jesus was able to pass through closed doors. (cf. John 20:19, 26) This quality (i.e. subtility) shows us that the human body will be elevated, in a way, by partaking in the divine nature. Either that, or our conception of human nature has been formed within the context of the fallen state of human nature. Either way, this sheds some light on the way in which Christ be present in the Eucharist (Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity), and yet remain fully and truly human.

We have to be careful not to think that Jesus's body was transformed into a spirit, or that at the resurrection we will be transformed into spirits. After His resurrection, Jesus said to His disciples, "See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." (St. Luke 24:39) And then a few verses later, St. Luke writes, "While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; and He took it and ate it before them." (St. Luke 24:41-43)

Similarly, St. Paul tells us that the Apostles ate and drank with Jesus after His resurrection.

"God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead." (Acts 10:40-41)

The third quality of the resurrected body is referred to as agility (agilitas), which is the capability of the body to obey the soul with the greatest ease and speed of movement, as Jesus appeared in the midst of His disciples (John 20:19, 26). On account of the perfect obedience of the body to the soul, the risen body can then pass with the quickness of thought to any place the person desires to go.

The fourth quality of the resurrected body is brightness or clarity (claritas), which means being free from everything deformed, and being filled with beauty and radiance. "The body will rise again free from distortions, malformations, and defects, in the greatest possible natural perfection." The radiance of the resurrected body will be like that of Christ's body at the Transfiguration. (St. Matthew 17:2) Jesus Himself tells us, "The just shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father" (Matthew 13:43) And the prophet Daniel wrote, "Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever." (Daniel 12:3)

What about the unrighteous? What kind of bodies will they have at the resurrection? The unrighteous will also be resurrected, and their bodies will also be immortal, but their bodies will not be impassable or transfigured (i.e. glorified). Their bodies will be capable of suffering. They will be eternally punished in their bodies in hell, though bodily pain will be their least pain in hell.

Jesus said, "for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell" (St. Matthew 5:29; cf. St. Matt 18:8) Elsewhere Jesus says, "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell". (St. Matthew 10:28) Because the risen bodies of the unrighteous will not be glorified, they will be hideous and repulsive, ever dying yet incapable of dying.

The Importance of the Body in Christianity
What does the resurrection of the body say about who we are? What does it say about the dignity of our bodies? It says that we are material beings. We are animals, not mere animals, but animals nonetheless. The resurrection of the body also tells us that matter is good. It also tells us that our bodies are sacred, for these very same bodies (I'm pointing to my chest) will, if we are found in Him on that day, be with God in heaven forever.

"The believer's body and soul already participate in the dignity of belonging to Christ. This dignity entails the demand that he should treat with respect his own body, but also the body of every other person, especially the suffering" (CCC 1004)

St. Paul tells us something similar.

"The body [is meant] for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? . . . . You are not your own; . . . . So glorify God in your body" (1 Corinthians 6)

[Because of the sacredness and dignity of the human body, Catholics should be buried in a Catholic cemetery, if there is one available, or at least the grave should be blessed, in consecrated ground. Cremation is permissible for Catholics, but not the scattering of ashes. That is so that relatives and friends may visit the burial site in order to pray for the departed. Cemeteries should be properly kept, and never desecrated. We should go there to pray for our loved ones who have died, that they may enter into the peace and joy of heaven. We can go there knowing with the certainty of faith that the bodies there will one day come out, and be eternal.]

We can know that Christ's human body, and Mary's body, are in heaven already, eternally, giving us assurance that ours will be there too, if we are found in Him on the last day. If Christ's body is in heaven, then if we remain in Christ, our body will be there too, with Him. St. Paul writes, "But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you." (Romans 8:11). Later he says, "knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus." (2 Cor 4:14)

The resurrection of the body also shows us the importance of the sacraments for salvation. Tertullian says,

"The flesh is the hinge of salvation. And since the soul is, in consequence of its salvation, chosen to 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 maybe 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. (Tertullian, On the Resurrection of the Flesh 8)

The Catechism adds:
"We believe in God who is creator of the flesh; we believe in the Word made flesh in order to redeem the flesh; we believe in the resurrection of the flesh, the fulfillment of both the creation and the redemption of the flesh." (CCC 1015)

In this way, and for this reason, God now uses matter to save ours souls through the sacraments. It is because we are material beings that we need material sacraments to save us, and gnosticism is the fundamental heresy. The doctrine of the resurrection of the body is a key piece of evidence in defeating gnosticism and its anti-sacramental implications.

"The Last Judgment"
Michelangelo (1534-1541)

Finally, what we do in and to our bodies matters, for we must all stand before Christ, in our bodies, to answer for everything we have done in our bodies, whether good or evil.

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." (2 Cor 5:10)

Let us live our lives, knowing that we will stand before our Maker, with all that we have done in this life there before Him. Let us strive to live so as to hear these words on that day: "Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your Master." (St. Matthew 25:21)

I'm dedicating this post to Tom Brownell, a family friend since childhood. May the grace and peace of God be with him in these last days of his earthly life, that he may stand firm in faith to the end. May the merits and prayers of all the saints be with him, to strengthen and encourage him. May the light of Christ shine on him, and receive him into his eternal home. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.