Wednesday, March 11, 2009

On the Ascension

The Ascension underscores that the body and the soul are connected. Both are good! What a truly novel concept!

It's a very easy trap, to fall into anthropological dualism, especially for those of us who understand that the spiritual is greater than the bodily. Still, the body is good, and we mustn't forget that. I often think fondly of St. Thomas Aquinas' enjoyment of food, not to the point of gluttony, but quite enough to flummox those silly Pelagians! (Wikipedia is not backing me up in the Pelagians' gnostic denigration of the body. Can anyone confirm?)

I have found it difficult to strike a balance between fasting from what is good as a gift to the Lord (or as a cry in supplication) and enjoying the good gifts He has given us (without going so far as to be gluttonous). Our Lord's ascension gives me hope of enjoying heaven, and the knowledge that my body will be there with me, a part of me.

Saints have had visions of heaven, and theologians understanding and knowledge thereof. All I really need to know about heaven is that I will be perfectly happy and fulfilled, and part of God in a way I cannot even conceive at present. Still, it's fun to think about possibilities of what things might be like...

I can't for the life of me figure out what we might all do with our bodies up there in heaven. But there are two particular speculations of what we might look like that intrigue me very much:

1) We will bear the marks of Christ's glory as in death. That is to say, St. Denis's head will not be attached to his body, St. Sebastian will have a few arrow holes in his flesh... You get the picture. Martyrs in particular will bear the wounds of their martyrdom. (Think of the whole theology of icons, and you're pretty much there). I imagine, too, that stigmatists (even the secret kind) would also bear their wounds. I'm not sure what the majority of Christians, who are crucified by splinter, would look like, according to this theory.

2) We will bear the marks of Christ's glory as in what we left behind. This theory suggests that we will somehow bear our sins in heaven, as if to say, "I was into this and the Lord brought me to Himself! Look how great He is!" Perhaps it's just my fallen human nature talking, but I'm not such a big fan of that idea, though I can see its theological appeal.

Which reminds me of my final point (who knew I had so much to say about the Ascension? I sure didn't!): As Fr. Dr. Dan Patee, TOR, Ph.D. (did I miss anything, Sana?) once reminded us in class: To dismiss an imperfection by the phrase, "We're only human" is quite the fallacy! It's not our humanity that keeps us from perfection but the sin of our forefathers. It's a simple point, really, and at first I thought he was just splitting hairs, but the longer I let this sit in the back of my mind, the more important it seems. We were made perfect. We were designed for perfection. That just got screwed up for us. But we can strive to become ever closer to the perfect. I don't think it's an overstatement to say that human perfection has been achieved by some saints towards the end of their lifetimes.

Just another reason not to become complacent in our sin. We've definitely got a lot more potential than we tend to give ourselves credit for.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:07 AM

    I would assume that the man with no head, would have his head [attached] in the resurrected state, but, would have a scar where it was detached. Also, Thomas was large, so, he may have overindulged on occasion.


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