What is a human being? A body and soul together forever. –Sr. Helena Burns
It started with Sr. Helena Burns. Who happens to be a pretty awesome, funny, faithful sister with the Daughters of St. Paul. I am shamelessly plugging her blog here.
She gave a few talks last spring about Theology of the Body. One of my friends shared the podcasts of the talks with me. For the discernment-specific listeners, I really recommend her talk on "Everyone is called to Virginity/Everyone is called to Marriage". Of course, the beauty of this talk is that is addressing basically everyone in the human family. Because we're all called to one or the other, and because they are both paths to the Lord, one could make the argument that every human soul has a need for both.
So, at one point in her other talk on the Theology of the Body, Sr. Helena spoke about the complete union of body and soul that makes a human being exactly the kind of creature he or she is. She asked the question: which of the following is more correct? a) I have a body or b) I am a body.
The answer is (b). And it immediately started the cogs and wheels churning in my little brain. I said to myself, "But wait! Why is that true if I have heard over and over that C.S. Lewis said, 'you don't have a soul, you are a soul. You have a body.'" And if Sr. Helena (and thereby Bl. JPII) is more right than C.S. Lewis, then why did he say that? What did he mean by that phrase? Now, we do have to remember that C.S. Lewis was not Catholic, and also that he was not around when the Theology of the Body was taught as a collection of sermons between 1979–1984. But after Googling the phrase and his name, I stumbled across a fascinating article that debunked the quote altogether: claiming it a misquote and that he never actually said that. This was, perhaps the big "lightbulb" moment of my experience with these talks. You can read the article here, though I found the last two paragraphs the most enlightening. So there you go. C.S. Lewis wasn't actually way off-track with his thinking about the relationship between our bodies and souls…he never even said such a thing.
Ok, now back to Sr. Helena Burns. She tells us that "I am a body" is correct. Not "I have a body". To "have" is to possess, it is something outside of you, a thing to be used. "Am" or to be is an intrinsic part of me. As I quoted at the top of this page, the definition of a human being is body and soul together forever.
Yes, these bodies are corrupted, broken, fragile, imperfect. Yes, our souls are also imperfect, tainted by sin. But if we believe in the resurrection of the body after death (which Catholics profess to do every Sunday) and if we believe that death is a result of sin and unintended by God for His creatures, we understand that this definition is true. God created humans to be body and soul together forever. They were never supposed to be imperfect, they were never supposed to be separated (your body and soul) by death.
So what does all this revelatory stuff have to do with the title, "Made for Love". Oh, I don't know. Perhaps I just liked that title. Perhaps today I am especially feeling the love of the Lord for me. Perhaps I recognize what a miracle it is that we are images of God in our souls and in our bodies. That we have a reason to hope, because the imperfections and sins we can sometimes see so glaringly clear within us are not permanent. We are meant for an unending, glorious, exhilarating love that will blast away all that is "not right" in us, and enfold us in joy and a union we never thought possible…but nevertheless always longed for. Can we even imagine how it is that our Creator made us for such a love like that?