Last week I talked about drug and alcohol addiction and a community that brings life to suffering addicts. Yesterday I discovered an excellent article from Kevin Whelan at Catholic Exchange on how this community demonstrates the healing message inherent is John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.
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. (TOB19:4)
Drug and alcohol addiction, says Whelan, is bodily and spiritual death and very clearly attacks the ‘visible reality’ of the ‘mystery of God.’ Though he does not mention it specifically in this TOB writings, JP II taught in Ecclesia in America that such abuse “leads to the degradation of the person created in the image of God.” It does this, notes Whelan, by separating the body from it’s will since the addict gradually becomes driven by his addiction, not his will. The separation of the body from the will is spiritual death just as the separation of the body from the soul is mortal death.
What does this have to do with the Comunita Cenacolo that I mentioned last week? “Just as addiction ravages the whole person,” Whelan says, the Cenacolo community life “provides for the complete person.” And through personal outreach, labor, singing, dancing, discussions, payer, the sacraments, sports and performances the Theology of the Body is demonstrated in the daily life of the community.
That is to say: through these physical actions of the body, God makes Himself know to the addicts. The Invisible is made Visible through the physical!
But it is specifically their radical poverty that the members of Cenacolo best demonstrate the Theology of the Body and the healing of the complete person:
In community, the members own nothing themselves (just ‘the body and it alone’). In their total reliance on God to provide for them, the are taken back to ‘The Beginning’ where all we had was work, prayer, community and the joy of God’s recklessly abundant love. Removed from money, cars, television, cell phones and other trappings of the material life they have time to look at themselves (body and soul) and learn that God is seemingly in ecstasy at their mere existence.