08 April 2010

Resurrection thoughts

Those who know me well know that I look forward to the day of my death, whenever it should come. I see death not as an enemy but as a friend.

It is not that I so dislike this present life that I am eager to have it end. Life has been good to me – notwithstanding the deaths of my parents and ongoing battle with arthritis – and I have been blessed and privileged to have already done most of the things I want to do before my death (I still wouldn’t mind a visit to England, Poland, Egypt and the Holy Land – or another visit to Hawaii, though).

It is, rather, that I have experienced enough of this life to know that although it is good – despite the many tragedies and heartaches – it is not everything. I have tasted or glimpsed or felt – I’m not quite sure which sense is right – something of eternity and my heart longs for it each day. This life is good, but it isn’t that good; something far better awaits those who are baptized in Christ Jesus and remain faithful to him.

Every Sunday we profess that we “look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.” On this day of Easter, then, it seems only fitting to
contemplate the resurrected body and to do so I turn to Peter Kreeft.

I remember this morning waking to the alarm at 5:45 a.m. as I normally do. This allows me some quiet time before the 7:15 a.m. weekday Mass.

Today, though, I was particularly tired when the alarm rang and so pressed the snooze button. And apparently didn’t wake up again until right at 7:00 a.m. when somehow I noticed it was strangely bright in my bedroom for the time of day it ought to have been. Oops. Benediction: late. Mass: late. Radio interview: late. Start of day: unpleasant.

Yesterday evening I was certain another thunder storm would roll over Virden, but none came. This morning I discovered what I actually felt yesterday: a large temperature plummet (it was 43 degrees at 7:07 a.m.). This great change in the weather sapped every bit of strength out of my body and left me waking with a swollen left knee and right hip. If you never been unfortunate enough to experience that, just know that it isn’t much fun.

Early on today I set my Facebook status to read that “wouldn’t mind his resurrected body right now,” for it has been at the center of my thoughts throughout the day.

In his book, Every Thing You Ever Wanted to Know About Heaven, But Never Dreamed of Asking!, Dr. Kreeft says:

…our spirit needs a body for freedom, for free expression. A soul without a body is exactly the opposite of what Plato thought it is. It is not free but bound. It is in an extreme form of paralysis, like a person paralyzed in all five senses at once. God gave us senses to help us, not to hinder us. Insofar as they hinder or bind us, that is a result of the Fall, not of Creation, and the binding will be removed in Heaven (p. 94).

This morning I longed not to be bound and hindered by my body, but to be able to move it freely.

I have long known what Saint Francis of Assisi meant when he referred to his body as “Brother Ass” and this morning I could easily have referred to my body in the same words.

Dr. Kreeft goes on to say:

The principle of a new soul-body relationship in the Resurrection has important consequences for both soul and body. Soul will no longer be frustrated by a semi-independent, recalcitrant body (“Brother Ass”, Saint Francis of Assisi called it); and body will be a bright ray of light from soul, not an opaque object; it will be more subject, less object, more truly mine, truly me….

Our present bodies are neither evil things, like demons, to be hated, nor perfect things, like gods, to be worshipped, but useful and humble things, like donkeys, to be used (pgs. 99-100).
I only wish my body were a bit more useful and a bit less stubborn.

If my resurrected body bears the “scars” or disfigurements of arthritis, so be it, I just want to move freely when I want.

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