“Corporeality is, in fact, a specific mode of existing and operating proper to the human spirit: This significance is first of all of an anthropological nature: the body reveals man, it “expresses the person. “ – (Congregation for Catholic Education, Educational Guidance In Human Love, N. 22)
Your body is the arena of your self-experience and the medium of communication with others. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor6:19), and is the physical expression or manifestation of your individual’s spirit. After creating humans in His image and likeness, male and female, God saw his creation and found that it was very good (Gen 1:28-31). You yourself will have experienced this goodness in times of health, enjoyable relationships and successful completion of tasks.
The fragility of body and its vulnerability to abuse and exploitation may also be part of your own experience. In the history of the Church there were times when the value of the body was belittled or ignored in spiritual pursuits which led to negative attitudes to the body and sexuality. How do you value your own body and its functions? Are you comfortable within your own skin? Healthy self-love begins with acceptance and respect for our bodily self. One of the aspects of transformation of our consciousness is the somatic dimension which refers to the human body, to body structure, and to bodily sensations, feelings— including sexual feelings—and memories. (Sperry).
Our efforts to accept and integrate sexual impulses arising from heterosexual or homosexual orientations, becomes all the more difficult when the environment is either highly permissive or repressive. At a lower level of consciousness, the body is easily treated as an idol, and pleasure becomes the ultimate measure of right and wrong, rendering very little room for higher values. Even when you are caught up in the enticement of bodily pleasures and comforts which you may slice out of your religious life, there may be occasions when your heart may ask, “what does it profit olive just for the comforts of my body?”.
Your tryst with both painful and pleasurable bodily sensations are openings to a much greater mystery. Somatic transformation is primarily about wellness. Wellness is similar to, but not synonymous with, health, because wellness can coexist with chronic illness, disease, and even terminal illness”(Sperry). For example, a Claretian who lives through terminal cancer with the integrity of his faith manifests a high level of somatic transformation. Such an integration calls for an ongoing transformation in the somatic dimension. undue preoccupation about health and exaggerated precaution against illness as well as overt neglect of health are indications of imbalance.
Your journey of somatic transformation puts you on the road to self-transcendence in a very tangible way. It requires the development of the capacity for joyful renunciation and the cultivation of virtues such as temperance and physical fitness. It also includes preventive measures such as proper diet, exercise, and sleep, which can contribute effectively to your vitality. Have you ever considered these to be measures that express your appreciation and respect for your body? Apart from mere preventive measures Somatic transformation also requires life-affirming attitudes of respect and appreciation due to your body and its functions and appropriate health care.
A somatic condition can become a Quid Prodest in your spiritual journey. Symptoms of aging such as appearance of grey hair, high level of cholesterol in blood, weakening eye sight, or onslaught of self-limiting illnesses such as diabetes, weak heart conditions or terminal illnesses like cancer can paradoxically become opportunities to grow into higher levels of spiritual consciousness and self-integration.
God himself has definitively entered our bodily history when the “Word became flesh and dwelt among us” ((Jn 1: 14). Christ manifested the beauty and destiny of the body when he handed it over to be crucified as his ultimate gift of himself for his friends (Jn 15.12). In the event of the resurrection His body revealed the victory of love over sin and selfishness. Our bodies participate in God’s project of salvation for humanity. Therefore, Your body, your sexuality, your cravings and your passions, in spite of their ambiguity, have a new possibility in the mystery of Christ. You can give “flesh” to the Word in your “flesh”. In fact, you are invited to embark on such a journey when you follow the form of life Jesus took for himself. Jesus has revealed the sacramental nature of the body when he offered himself in the bread saying, “This is my body”, a mystery which he lived fully on the cross. We make ourselves a self gift to others and reach out to them in love when we let our bodies become “bread” which is blessed and broken in communion with Jesus for the life of others. Our brothers, the martyrs of Barbastro, chose to become the bread broken, just as the daily bread they partook of the alter, when they journeyed on the road to their Calvary.
Our Founder himself knew the mystery of the bread blessed and broken to be served to feed the multitudes. When he handed over his whole self to Jesus and Mary to be broken and shared for the people, his short life was like bread that fed the hunger of multitudes for the Word of God.
Form Forge in Daily life, booklet 8, pp.7-8.