Secret Codes 12 July, 2006

The Mass Illustrated for Children
(published by Second Spring Books)

The commercial success of The Da Vinci Code nonsense may indicate that a great many people want to believe the Church is covering up a big secret. Well, it is, but it is not the secret that many would like it to be: that Jesus Christ married Mary Magdalen, proving that the call to celibacy was based on a lie. The fact is, human beings can do without sexual intercourse, whatever Freud may have said, and many are called to live that way. Nevertheless, Eros is rooted in human nature, as the Pope points out in ‘Deus Caritas Est‘, and this means that celibacy and singleness can only ‘work’ if Eros is transformed rather than repressed. The body has to be integrated with the soul, and Eros with Agape. That applies within marriage as well.

The transformation of Eros can be a long struggle, but it is how we become more human, in order – in the end – to become more than human, to be divinized. ‘God became man so that man could become God.’ And though we will certainly die, the process of death is like the planting of a seed. One day a new body will be given to us that resembles the body Jesus revealed to the disciples after his resurrection. ‘It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body’ (1 Cor. 15: 40, 44). Jesus conquered death, and in the Eucharist he gives us himself, including his resurrected body, in a way that nourishes that eternal life in us. That is one of the secrets that the Church carries within herself, and it is a lot more interesting than anything Dan Brown came up with.

The huge response to our recent study day on the Theology of the Body (20 May) indicates a growing awareness of the importance of the insights of John Paul II on the nature of human embodiment and sexuality. There is a code written into the human body. It seems an intriguing coincidence that the Church has deciphered that code just as scientists begin to decipher the genetic one inscribed within our DNA. The temptation is to reduce everything to biochemistry. What the Church offers is a wisdom-reading of biology that takes account of the other levels of the human person.

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