If you've read John Paul the Great's work on the "Theology of the Body," you know that one of his starting points is that the body and soul are integrated in a supernatural way that precludes anything being "purely physical." The integration is so complete that, although we could speak of the body in objective terms, to do so is to greatly diminish its worth, because the body is the man, the man is the body. Nothing is "merely" physical ... our bodies are too intertwined in our eternal reality to speak of them as "merely" anything.
JPII wrote (emphasis mine):
Certainly, it is possible to describe the human body, to express its truth with the objectivity characteristic of the natural sciences. But such a description with all its precision cannot be adequate (that is, commensurable with its object). It is not just a question of the body (intended as an organism, in the somatic sense) but of man, who expresses himself through that body and in this sense is, I would say, that body. So that thread of evaluation, seeing that it is a question of man as a person, is indispensable in describing the human body. Furthermore, it is necessary to say how right this evaluation is. This is one of the tasks and one of the perennial themes of the whole of culture: of literature, sculpture, painting, and also of dancing, of theatrical works, and finally of the culture of everyday life, private or social.
~~ St. Paul's Description of the Body and Teaching on Purity,
General Audience of Wednesday, February 4, 1981
With this in mind, I share with you this sweet exchange with Ramona, who, like most four-year-olds, intuits Truth when she lives it.
Ramona has never latched on to a blankie, or a "snuggly" of any kind. I'm her blankie, and always have been (how many of you can relate?) In particular, she's attached to a certain spot on my arm, which she lovingly rubs when she's stressed or tired.
The other day, as I was typing something, she approached me and rubbed my arm. I stopped what I was doing, turned and looked at her with a face that no doubt was bursting with love for this sweet girl.
I said, "You really like my arm, don't you?"
"Ye-e-e-es," she replied with a sly smile.
Still beaming, I said, "Why do you like my arm so much?"
Her expression switched to one of amazement and confusion. She couldn't believe her mother would ask such a ridiculous question, and she replied, quite sensibly:
"Because ... it's you. Your arm is you, Mommy. That's why I love you."
Ah, the wisdom of four-year-olds.
Now, the challenge in parenting? To keep the Truth alive.
This post also appears on the blogging page of Catholic Exchange.