“The body in fact and only the body is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine. It has been created to transfer into the visible reality of the world the mystery hidden from eternity in God, and thus to be a sign of it.” (TOB 19:4, Feb 20, 1980)
Lent is a very “bodily” season in the Church. Not only do we help discipline ourselves spiritually through bodily or sensual mortifications, but we also spend a significant amount of time reflecting on Christ’s Passion and death which is the greatest physical and emotional pain ever suffered. And these things prepare us for and lead us into the glorious season of Easter in which we not only celebrate the Resurrection of Christ’s body, but also look forward to the resurrection of every-body on the last day.
In his reflection on Healing the Inner Man with Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving, Fr. Samuel Medley considers how the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving counteract our concupiscence toward pride, lust and greed:
Jesus is alive and active in the Church and her liturgy as our divine physician, seeking to use our Lenten penitence to bring us to the redemption of our bodies. The pride of life, that brutish arrogance of spirit that comes from not recognizing that God is God and we are not, is healed with the spirit of prayer, the soul of which is humility. The concupiscence of the flesh, that lustful desire which seeks to desire others as objects of gratification of our bodily urges, is crushed and quelled by that bodily prayer we call fasting. The concupiscence of the eyes, that avaricious craving for material goods that spoils and sours trust in diving Providence, is suffocated by generous love in giving what we have to those in need that we call almsgiving.
So let us remember that it is not only our prayer, but also our actions during Lent that help bring us closer to Christ, especially our daily voluntary mortifications, which we unite to Christ on the Cross for penance, for healing, for redemption. (p.s. it’s also a good idea to follow up on these penances with that great Sacrament of Penance)
This is a re-post from last year. See some of last year’s other Lent related TOB posts:
Fasting is Preparation for Feasting – why do Catholics fast?
Lent and the Theology of the Body – on how, through periodic abstinence, Lent can help couples foster intimacy. Lent is also a good time for those who are single and engaging in sexual activity outside of marriage to stop, dedicate themselves to Christ and to chastity and vow to abstain from intercourse until marriage.