Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hidden Bodies

My wife, Stephanie, is currently dealing with the death of her mother, and the subsequent plans of her family to scatter her ashes from a pier. This brings into focus the difference between Catholic and non-Catholic views of the body, and the resultant burial rituals. Following from this Stephanie had some insights on the value people place on a body's appearance.

When a dead body is whole, we treat it with a certain respect. We wouldn't just dump it off a pier or cut it in half to bury in two separate places (unless we were in the Mafia). But a cremated body no longer looks like a body, so we do all kinds of odd things with it.

Likewise, the Eucharist does not have the appearance of a body, which is part of why it is so easily disrespected, mistreated or forgotten. The Eucharist is not something I begin to understand, but it is a wonderful invisible gift.

But I suppose even potentially viewable living bodies are forgotten if they are hard enough to see. People hidden by distance or within the womb are not given the same value as those easier for us to see. Which makes me wonder if I am worth less to people, being so skinny you can't see me when I turn sideways?

I don't know... nor do I know how to rely less on what I see myself, and how to care more for what is invisible.

Let's pray that God might help us to treat lives and the bodies of all people with respect, especially the holy body of our Lord. And that we might focus less on the visible to better see the invisible things we do easily forget.

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