“Body, Mind & Spirit?” Good Luck

Spirit Mind Body 1Three new buzz words put together to “wow” you into whatever program or purchased service is offered to you, usually when you’re older.

What better unity than one between “body, mind and spirit.”  However reading St. Paul you’d think the body is the least of the three with “spirit” winning our attention.  Never mind that mind is not mentioned much by Paul, it was the division between body and spirit that captures his words.  (Is that his problem or ours?)

The Catholic Church encourages a diminished body making way for the spirit that needs development and then finding a oneness with God.   I recall many seminary classes when St. Paul is discussed and how the lowering of the body is replaced by an emphasis on the spirit.  (I always thought it was an awkward division but I needed at least a “B,” so I bought into it.)

We’ve all seen movies where, in the name of God, the body is mortified to the glory of the spirit as though there’s a division and constant struggle between the two.

As often happens in theology, the thinking is great but the application very often fails.  Creating a division between body and spirit is our first problem.

When you’re young, your body is a physical object to be tested and tested again in both sports and alcohol.  “How much?” is the unconscious question repeatedly asked by a youthful 18 year old.  The tested body of an 80 year old seeks a spirit to make sense of the body’s aches and pains that match her age.  (“If God wanted me to live this long, then why didn’t He…” is often said but never answered.)

The referee to all of this is the mind.  The body may yell and we may yearn for the spirit but the mind is the middle piece that somehow unites the three.

I don’t wish the mind to be in control because it never is, it’s too influenced by all kinds of stuff out there and has a difficult time processing it all.  That’s where the body steps in to help inform the overwhelmed mind.  That’s where the spirit haunts the mind until it is reckoned with.

Save your money.  There is no program or service that can unite three totally different pieces of life.  Trying to combine them makes for a great looking ad campaign or a healthcare slogan but the work is done through our own personal prayer life, and it’s free.  In youth we have a growing mind controlled by the body with little regard to the spirit.  In later life we have a failing body and a history-ladened mind that is searching for fulfillment through the spirit.  Who’s right?

Well, I guess it depends what age you are.

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). www.Salvatorians.com. Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on Amazon.com.
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