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Wednesday, 15 August 2012

We do not belong to ourselves--thoughts on the Feast of the Assumption

Laurence Whistler Window, St. Nicholas, Moreton, Dorset

I have been ill with a virus. This is very inconvenient for me, as I have work to do. I do not like being ill. I hate it. To be ill, however reminds me of two things I want to share with you on this Feast of the Assumption.

The first thought begins with a verse from 1 Corinthians:

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 6:19-20

Glorifying God in my body does not mean merely staying away from sins of the flesh, although that is important. That is the beginning step. As my body does not belong to me, this bold statement from the Holy Spirit shows me that I belong to God in my flesh.

If He allows illness, we must accept it. Sometimes this is easier when big illnesses hit us. For example, I am a cancer survivor. Before I heard the bad news in 2009, I prayed. I prayed afterwards. I grieved at the loss of parts of my body which God had created. But, I knew, in my heart, that this was God's Will for me to endure all of this. I had complications and missed work. I was fired for having cancer and being ill, which is legal in some states. It was like being on a long retreat. God was there in the loss and in the suffering.

Before two operations, I looked in the mirror and said goodbye to those important parts of my body I was losing on this earth. To dust and shadow, these are gone. I am not the same physically or mentally. But, these losses are gifts, as I slowly approach the great loss of my body in death. I consider the steps a blessing. I know how to give up the flesh and live more in the spirit.

My body does not belong to me. God owns me. He can do whatever He Wills. I was bought, not like a slave out of the slave markets of Rome, or Bristol, but out of deadly sin which would have sent me to hell. But, the slave price was the Passion and Death of a God, the Son of God, Who as the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity suffered for me. His Father allowed this in order to free me, and to free you.

My body, now incomplete, is glorified in Christ only partly now on earth, but in Heaven, I hope to see the glorification of this body, through Christ, again. As St. Paul states, we do not know exactly what we will be like, but the Church teaches we shall have, at the end of time, our bodies restored to us. This is one of the messages of today's feast. Our Lady went before us and her purity demanded that her body did not see corruption. We shall follow her at some time, as we allow God to make us pure, slowly but surely.

The smaller illnesses, like flu or a broken toe are in some ways harder to deal with, which is why God sends these to me, to learn patience. Irritating interruptions of our way of life mean we have to adjust to remembering Who is in control and what it is He wants. Patience, love, contentment in small things...

We do not own ourselves. The second point is that we shall be like God, as we were intended to be. We were made in the Image and Likeness of God and as St. Bernard of Clairvaux wrote, "We have kept the Image but lost the Likeness." Body and soul are somehow reflecting God.

Those of us who sometimes see our bodies as "getting in the way", especially as we grow a little older, know deep down inside that we are moving towards death. But, this is not scary and there is a wonderful movement of the soul towards God as the body loses its, my, power and potency. A woman who was beautiful in her youth see this daily, as beauty fades. But, with God, this foreshadows a new interior life, one of interior beauty, the life of the virtues.

But, today's Feast of the Assumption points us to the real end of all things.

And remember, the Assumption is connected with the Immaculate Conception and the Annunciation. Mary was the first person to experience the Indwelling of the Trinity, which we all have.

Mary is our Queen, as the prayers state today, she reigns in Heaven. She reigns over us.

She is the only Queen to whom we can honestly say, "Long live the Queen". She lives now, showing us the Way, the Truth and the Life.

I write this for all my baby-boomers friends whom I love so much. May we approach the next life realizing that  we glorify God in our bodies and souls here and beyond.

Happy Feast of the Assumption.