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What happens to your body…

If you type the words “what happens to your” in the Google search bar, the second result is “…to your body when you die.” Seems to be a pretty intriguing question to most people!

1 Corinthians 15:44 says: 

They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.

After all God has to say about the body’s significance, did you think he’d leave it out after death? 

According to that verse in 1 Corinthians, our “heavenly” bodies will be significantly different from our earthly bodies.

How? 

“The powers of the spirit (the Holy Spirit—spiritual and divine) will permeate the energies of the body” (TOB 67:1).

Why?

The spiritualization and the divinization of our body is how we will participate in the “divine communion” God intended for us. This is promised to us from the beginning when we—as man and woman—are created in God’s image. We image God’s eternal exchange of love on earth as He does in Heaven: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

This is the communion God foreshadows for us in our earthly marriages (the union of one flesh). However, the “union of the sexes” as we know it now will give way to an infinitely greater union: the union of Christ and the Church.  

Because of this, we must remember our earthly marriages are…as Christopher West puts it…a glimmer…or an icon…of something infinitely greater. 

That is what we can expect after the resurrection of our earthly body. That is why we exist! 

As Pope John Paul II so eloquently put it, “All people—regardless of their vocation—are called to prepare and perfect themselves for eternal union with God.” 

What does eternal union with God look like? 

Perfect love. 

An end to all suffering. 

Ecstatic, never-ending happiness. 

Perfect justice. 

Healing of all wounds. 

Ending of all sadness and despair. 

What great hope we have in these things! So prepare yourself emphatically. Pray for these things unceasingly. 

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

If you’d like to learn more about what God has to say regarding the rising/resurrection of our bodies, keep reading! 

(Continued: 1 Corinthians 15:45-57)

“The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.” But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit. What comes first is the natural body, then the spiritual body comes later. Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. Earthly people are like the earthly man, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man. Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man.

What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever.

But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.

Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:

‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’

For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Thanks for reading! 

The FRP Team 

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Now Serving…

We’ve learned that eros—the longing—inside of us for Love was an intended part of our makeup. God created us in His image and, because of His communion of love in accordance with the Trinity, we are made for Love.

At the same time, he continuously warns us to guard our hearts from the perversion of Love:  lurking lust and the sin of adultery. 

“You have heard it said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28

Sounds pretty clear cut, right? But don’t misunderstand His point! Although we must guard our hearts from lust, Christ encourages us NOT to suppress our desires for Love…instead, he asks that we purify our hearts towards a holy desire.

The process of purification is not a strict set of standards. Christ does not want to impose laws on us… he wants to transform our hearts to “free us from the law” (Galations 5:18) and help our “eros” reach it’s true height, according to the Creator’s original plan.

(Theology of the Body is not only an invitation, but a “road map” to understanding what this means for each of us.)

As we’ve learned, our sexuality is a major part of God’s plan for humanity. As followers of Christ, we must mature and learn to distinguish between (1) what composes the riches of sexuality/sexual attraction and (2) what compels lust. This requires what God continuously calls us to perfect: our self control. 

To grow in purity, we must train our hearts and minds to control our “passions.” It’s an act of the will. 

Christopher West uses the example of exercising a muscle. The more one sacrifices bad habits and devotes themselves to training, the stronger that muscle becomes. 

However, he rightly notes that only half the “training” comes from our own will. We MUST surrender our struggles to grace and let Christ give our desires a new, pure form. Only He can give us the power to love in God’s image.

It is NOT an easy process!

JPII writes, “Lust is not always plain and obvious; sometimes it’s concealed, so that it passes itself off as ‘love’… Does this mean we should distrust the human heart? No! We must remain in control of it.”

Sometimes lust looks a lot like love. Sometimes, it looks a lot like “fast food.” As we’ve mentioned in a previous post, Christians often feel our only two options are fast food or “starvation.”

From “A Four Letter Word for Love:”

“Erotic love (as intended), like much in our culture today, has been completely defiled. And like many spiritual things, its original intention isn’t properly understood, resulting in rejection and a sense of disgrace… leading its new meaning to be rejected and disgraced by the very people God created it for: the Church. This is a mindset we must reverse.

In the confusion, we find ourselves at a crossroads: either (1) by a pure act of the will we become stoic by repressing our desires, condemning them as “bad” or unholy…OR… (2) once we realize that “starving ourselves” of our deepest desire is not possible, we give up the fight by “consuming” immediate gratification — in whatever form it takes. —> Can also be known as “fast food” love.  

Enter: Jesus. 

“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.’” Matthew 16:24

A process like TAKING UP OUR CROSS (in this case, controlling our *given* desires) is not.going.to.be.easy. 

Christopher West describes it as “emotionally and physically wrenching at times.” 

Dying to lust—letting the Lord crucify impurity—is a birth of authentic love and a life as God intended it. 

However! We know that God has prepared a banquet (an everlasting wedding feast, actually—see Revelation 19:7) for those who follow Him. So there’s no such thing as “starving ourselves” and fast food can be a thing of the past! 

We pray that you’ll find peace and strength if you surrender your burdens to the Lord today. We can testify that you’ll actually lose nothing and gain everything (even though it feels like losing a lot of the time!). 

Want more Theology of the Body? 

We’re announcing a new introductory series in JUNE! Stay tuned for more information next week. 

Thank you for reading! 

The FRP Team

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Man and Woman He Created Them…But Why?

Have you ever thought about why God created men and women? Not the “species”–as human beings–but men as men and women as women and ultimately how/why they were created to become one.

Yeah, me either!

“Men are from Mars, women are from Venus”…sure! We’ve heard the almost cliche explanations for a while. The purpose, though, is still a point of ignorance. Until today!

Let’s quickly go back to an important part in the last blog post:

God wants to marry us.

Crazy, right? And these claims come from the Bible! That’s not too hard to believe though…after all, the Bible begins and ends with marriages: Adam to Eve and Christ to the Church.

Today we come full circle: to answer our question, we have to look at the first marriage. Actually, we have to look at a specific element from the first marriage…one that might make us a little uncomfortable.

That element is nakedness. OR, more emphatic, nakedness without shame.

John Paul II says, “The innocent experience of nakedness is ‘precisely the key’ for understanding God’s original plan for human life. If we do not understand the meaning of nakedness without shame, we do not understand the meaning of our creation as male and female; we do not understand ourselves and the meaning of life.”

The first humans experienced this…they understood themselves and their purpose – naked and without shame. Why? Because the dignity of their persons was completely perfect; because they were created in God’s image – the image of perfect love. They knew no sin (lust, in particular) and were entirely free to be a gift to one another…their ultimate purpose.

They were unashamed…unafraid…to show their naked bodies because they didn’t feel objectified by one another. They weren’t threatened by the feeling (or reality!) that they were seen as objects for the other’s sexual pleasure. They were free to love and, as 1 John 4:18 says, “Perfect love casts out fear.”

Christopher West says it best: “This is why nakedness without shame is the key for understanding God’s plan for our lives–it reveals the original theology of our bodies and, through that, the truth of love (emphasis mine).” We were uniquely + individually created to represent God’s love…through the Spirit within us and the body given to us. (As we’ve learned in previous posts) this is why our bodies reflect God. Particularly: (1) His participation in an eternal exchange of love (the spousal analogy) and (2) His bodily sacrifice as a perfect gift of self. When they become “one flesh” man and woman (1) fulfill their purpose and (2) foreshadow the eternal union of Christ and His Church.  

We can only discover who we are by loving as God loves. THAT’S why God created men (as men) and women (as women).

What do these points make you think about our current cultures take on gender and sexuality? What does this reveal to you as a child of God…and did it result in a shift of your thinking about your life’s purpose?

We’d love to know!

As always, thank you for reading!

The FRP Team

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An Intimate Invitation

Did you look it up?

Hosea 2:19 from last week…did you read it?

Our topic this week centers around this important verse! Here it is again:

“I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord.” Hosea 2:19

Scripture uses many images to describe God’s love/desire for us, but the “spousal analogy” is arguably the most pronounced…and maybe even most confusing one!

Drawing from the conclusions of theologians before him, Christopher West takes that analogy a step farther and makes a pretty profound statement: God wants to marry us.

Crazy, right? And these claims come from the Bible! That’s not too hard to believe though…after all, the Bible begins and ends with marriages: Adam to Eve and Christ to the Church. Patterned throughout the Bible–from bookend to bookend–you see numerous examples of God making His desires clear for us (members of His Church). Here are a few:

Song of Songs 4:9 (You saw that coming!)

“You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride; you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace.”

Isaiah 62:5

“For as a young man marries a virgin, so shall your Maker marry you; and as the bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.”

Ephesians 5:21-32

“‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the church.”

Revelation 19:7

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.”

The outline these passages provide reveals an eternal plan that becomes obvious when we see the sacrifice Christ made on the cross. God himself became flesh…not just to forgive our sins (as if that wasn’t enough!), but to become “one flesh” with US, so that we could share in His eternal exchange of love.

An earthly “spousal relationship” is given to us by God to foreshadow the relationship He desires to have with each of us…for eternity!  Union with God is the ultimate relationship…the ultimate GOAL; the union of man and woman in marriage reflects and prepares us for that reality.

This is definitely a unique way of looking at our relationship with God. John Paul II recognized that “the analogy of human spousal love cannot offer an adequate and complete understanding of [the divine mystery] (emphasis mine).” This analogy simply allows us a unique glimpse into this incredibly divine mystery.

What do YOU think of spending an eternity in perfect love?  And if you pursued that now…what would it look like?

In the meantime, stay tuned for next week’s post about how/why God created men and women.

Thanks for reading!

The FRP Team

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A Four Letter Word for Love

We’re a sign of a divine mystery. But what does that mean?

It is the mystery of Trinitarian Life and Love – of God’s eternal Communion. “God Himself is an eternal exchange of love: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and He has destined us to share in that exchange (CCC221).”

This concept will only temporarily be a mystery to us. God desires we share in this mystery–this exchange of love–with Him forever.

We know by this point that we are created by Love for love (in God’s image), but what might strike you is the TYPE of love God intended for us.

By nature we were created with a deep desire to draw near to God. “Eros” is the desire in us that seeks God. If you follow the Greek word out a little more, you’ll no doubt find that “Eros” is the origin of the word “erotic.”

We were created for erotic love.

theology of the body love

Erotic love (as intended), like much in our culture today, has been completely defiled. And like many spiritual things, its original intention isn’t properly understood, resulting in rejection and a sense of disgrace… leading its new meaning to be rejected and disgraced by the very people God created it for: the Church. This is a mindset we must reverse.

In the confusion, we find ourselves at a crossroads: either (1) by a pure act of the will we become stoic by repressing our desires, condemning them as “bad” or unholy…OR… (2) once we realize that “starving ourselves” of our deepest desire is not possible, we give up the fight by “consuming” immediate gratification — in whatever form it takes.

We can’t deny our nature–the way God created us in HIS image–by denying these desires. But neither of the above options is the “abundant life” Jesus spoke of in John 10:10.

Thankfully, both Scripture and the Church offer direction along life’s crossroads!

“The moment the Word became flesh, he eliminated the unbridgeable distance between the finite and infinite…in order to draw us to the heights of satisfaction through communion with His divine being (Benedict XVI, Aug 10, 2012).

Our erotic desire–the deep longing for being taken outside of yourself, completely encompassed by Love–is NOT unattainable.

It becomes clear through Scriptures like Hosea 2:19 that God destined us to share in the exchange of this kind of love. (I challenge you to look it up!)

THIS is what makes the Gospel “good news:” there is a Love, freely offered to us, that quenches our deepest longing. Honestly, accepting and submitting to the Love of God is what we were actually created for.  We were Made for More…

Throughout this next week, we encourage you to begin looking for obvious ways that you find yourself desiring God. In what areas of your life do you see yourself longing for Love that only He can provide?

Feel free to comment below or message us about what you realize! We’d love to hear from you!

As always, thank you for reading!

The FRP Team

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Why the Body?

“God has constructed the body so as to give greater honor to those parts [considered] without honor.” 1 Corinthians 12:24

Many spiritually minded people are uncomfortable with talk of their bodies. Even a perfectly crafted sermon can cause the faithful to become uneasy when the homilist begins to talk of “the flesh.” Many church-goers give much more emphasis to the “soul” part of “body and soul.” Some might even say that the soul is, in a sense, trapped in the body.

This is not biblical! God gives significant emphasis to both the body and the soul. So much so that He (the Word) became flesh and dwelt among us.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John 1:14

God Himself took on a human body!

And what’s more, we are created in God’s image! The beauty of creation reflects the infinite beauty of the Creator. Sunsets and mountains don’t reflect the beauty of the Creator in the same way as that which was made in His image–the human body.

For that reason, we must open our body as an indwelling of the Spirit so that our mortal bodies can have divine life. What greater meaning does life have than that? And it starts with our bodies!

The Body and the Sacraments

The Sacraments are the physical means through which we encounter God’s spiritual treasure.

The Catholic faith is a very sensual religion–our most intimate encounters with God are through our bodily senses: bathing the body with water (baptism); anointing the body with oil (baptism, confirmation, holy orders, anointing the sick); eating and drinking the Body and Blood of Christ (the Eucharist); the laying on of hands (holy orders, anointing of the sick); confessing with our lips to a priest (penance); and the unbreakable joining of man and woman in their union as one flesh (marriage).

Through our holy participation in the Sacraments, our body becomes a sign that makes visible the invisible. We are physical embodiments of the love of the God we cannot see.

To ask questions about the significance and meaning of the body can lead us on a much deeper journey into the significance and meaning of LIFE. (Hence, the purpose of this study!)

One of those questions, for example, is the mystery of sexual difference: the difference between men and women’s bodies and the role that plays in the divine story.

But stay tuned! That’s coming next week!

In the meantime, let us know…have you ever conceived of your body as a “shell” in which your “spiritual self” dwells? Why are spiritually minded people so often uncomfortable with their bodies?

Thank you for reading! 

The FRP Team

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[Repost] The Heart of the Gospel: A Divine Marriage Proposal

Blog (re)posted with permission by author Claire Hendee, originally published 10/25/16 on tobinstitute.org.

The Heart of the Gospel: A Divine Marriage Proposal

At the beginning of July, having just finished five weeks of evangelization training as a FOCUS missionary, I was given the opportunity to take the “Head and Heart Immersion” Theology of the Body course in Ave Maria, Florida. My previous experience with TOB had been minimal — a few classes in high school — but I believed that a better understanding of TOB would help with leading Bible studies and mentoring women on campus, not to mention it would more thoroughly prepare me for my vocation. What I did not expect was the impact it would have on one of our most basic evangelization strategies: sharing the gospel.

As a missionary, I am asked to share the gospel all the time. Whether it’s with a diagram, a little book, my testimony or a passage from Scripture, there are countless ways to unfold the good news of the Incarnation and to give another person the opportunity to accept and choose the love of Jesus Christ, maybe for the first time.

The gospel itself has five basic points:

  1. We were created for relationship with and adoption by God the Father;
  2. We fell in sin and broke this relationship;
  3. God sent His Son Jesus to die for our sins and restore this relationship;
  4. We now have the choice to, through the Holy Spirit, accept this free gift or reject it;
  5. And we do so through active participation in the sacramental life of the Church.

Often when this message is shared, the emphasis can unfortunately rest on our sinfulness: We did not deserve Jesus’s death for us, but He chose to do it anyways. And in my experience, the well-intentioned proclamation of this good news ends up inducing feelings of guilt and shame more than anything else: “Do you not realize what Jesus did for you? How could you say no to that?!

But that’s not the heart of the gospel.

As I encountered the Theology of the Body, the gospel was revealed in a whole new light. I began to understand that, in the beginning, the Trinity — an eternal exchange of love — made man to share in that love. Earthly marriage, the love of a father and mother spilling into the new life of a child, is meant to reflect the love of the Trinity and constantly point us back to the Love for which we were created. Celibacy reminds us that, ultimately, sex is not the end but a foreshadowing of the union we are to have with Christ for eternity.

Our purpose and destiny: eternal union with Christ in Heaven.

Jesus doesn’t want to guilt us into choosing Him. He doesn’t want to merely “be in relationship” with us — he wants to marry us (in a supernatural kind of way). He wants to have a union with us even deeper than that of husband and wife…and He gives us a taste of this in the Eucharist as He, the Bridegroom, lays down His life for the Bride, the Church, on what St. Augustine calls the “marriage bed of the Cross” (Sermon Suppositus, 120:3).

WHAT? Could it be more beautiful than that?

But what struck me most is that it’s not about our sinfulness. Jesus did not become man just to conquer sin: No, there was a reason He needed to conquer sin. Sin was the very thing that was keeping this eternal marriage from being realized. So desperately did Jesus want to marry us and spend eternity with us that He was willing to do ANYTHING — whatever it took, even laying down His life — to redeem our brokenness and turn it into an opportunity for life.

For me, sharing the gospel with a woman in my Bible study or a student I meet on campus will never be the same. The heart of the gospel is that our God wants to marry us, and He was and is willing to do whatever it takes to give us the chance to accept this proposal. Though human marriage is only an icon of this eternal marriage for which we are destined, we can begin to grasp the great significance and beauty of eternal marriage through the lens of earthly marriage. At the end of the day, it’s not about our sin; it’s about the eternal marriage we were made for in the beginning.

Of course we need to take sin seriously and be aware of the impact of our choices on our souls. But we need not let shame be the driving force in our spiritual lives. If we understand that sin is what is getting in the way of this eternal marriage, we can more readily reject the false proposals from the prince of darkness and accept the loving marriage proposal of the eternal Bridegroom. And not only that, but we’ll be better equipped to share the truth of God’s beautiful love for us with others and give them the opportunity to choose it, too.

Now, when I share the gospel on campus, I realize that I’m inviting people into the marriage they were made for — the marriage for which their hearts are so desperately longing and aching. Sharing this truth with others isn’t just for FOCUS missionaries. It’s for all of us.

About the Author: A native of Knoxville, TN, Claire is a theology teacher at Bethlehem High School in Bardstown and a former missionary with FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students). She currently lives in Elizabethtown, KY and is awaiting marriage in December to her fiancé, Andrew Collins. Claire loves coffee shops, good music, and Heart of the World by Hans Urs Von Balthasar.