Wednesday, October 17, 2007


A priest friend of mine was always fond of talking about our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit but he smoked like a chimney. I once asked about that incongruity. After all, if the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, should we not take better care of it than that? To which he replied, “I’m just incensing the temple.”

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “You must know that you body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is within – the Spirit you have received from God. You are not your own. You have been purchased, and at a price. So glorify God in your body.”

Of course the greatest way to glorify God in your body is to strive to be holy. “Rend you hearts, not your garments.” (Joel 2:13) And indeed many saints focused their sanctity there, as well we all should. They did not all necessarily sanctify their bodies in the physical sense I suppose. They didn’t all have the nice slender, healthy, well built bodies sculptures and painters would like us to believe they had. In fact, St. Thomas Aquinas is said to be have been large enough that a circle had to be cut into the table in order for him to pull himself up to it.

But there is merit in glorifying God by treating your body well. Your creation after all is good. You were made good and intended to be good. The Holy Spirit abides in you and at mass you become a tabernacle of the Lord when you receive Holy Communion. So what we do with this gift of our bodies is significant.

It is not a neutral but a morally good thing to treat the body well (and to assist others to do the same.) This includes eating well (and sometimes fasting), exercising and trying to get enough rest. It also means adorning it with modesty, remaining chaste, and using our gifts of the senses to take in what is good and shunning that which is base as we develop our minds. It is also a call to develop our abilities for the glory of God and the building up of our brothers and sisters.

Your body is a gem of creation making you capable of bringing incredible good into the world, of being an image of Christ for others. Treat you body with the respect, dignity, care, and modesty such a gift deserves.


uncle jim said...


Adoro te Devote said...

Well said!

Although I had a chuckle at "I'm just incensing the temple." I would have suggested he find better incense, his stuff is putrid!

Rob said...

I think this is always important to remember when people are busy "judging" others, especially about sexual matters.

This country's weight problem is part and parcel of all it's other problems. Over-eating is one of the cardinal sins (gluttony), right up there next to lust and wrath and pride and sloth. I don't see a lot of difference between drug users, adulterers and the grossly obese.

All are sinners. All are commiting terrible offenses agaonst God's temple. All need mercy and forgiveness and prayer.

And it really ticks me off when someone who is terribly overweight (but oh so religious) criticizes someone else for "dressing like a slut", or smoking dope, etc. The criticizer is commiting a terrible sin as well! Mote-plank.

uncle jim said...

I do believe the vast majority of us are not in excellent shape. Our weight is one facet. I also believe there are some, though I think only a few percentage-wise, who have a weight issue due to metabolic and or other chemical and genetic issues. When I see someone who is grossly overweight, I presume this to be the case, rather than judge them. The rest of us who are 'moderately overweight', and it usually shows, are there because of our own controllable choices. We may be guilty of sin - there are criteria to be met for that to be the case. My extra 25-30 pounds is probably my sin, because I do believe it is our duty to work at staying well and in shape / healthy condition. I've missed the mark. So in which category do we put smokers ... or heavy drinkers ... or?

Anonymous said...

Well, there is the issue of intemperance. We are a society that talks up "moderation" while ignoring the virtue of temperance. Or any virtues, for that matter.

Do we really need to categorize smokers or anyone else? We need to focus more on categorizing our own offenses; it's time better spent. We only have control over ourselves, and even that control is somewhat of an illusion, given our weak natures and need to rely on God in the face of temptation. But if we master our own passions, the people who have not are more likely to be able to see in themselves what they are not doing, if you know what I mean.

~ Adoro

Rob said...

-I also believe there are some, though I think only a few percentage-wise, who have a weight issue due to metabolic and or other chemical and genetic issues.-

Who is to say that the adulterer isn't burdened with some "genetic-difficulty" that pre-dsiposes him to sex? Or the "disease" of alcoholism? I think all these things are true sources for many problems that people have. That doesn't excuse us from having to conquer those pre-dispositions, which are sinful. Genetics cannot be the pre-text for indulging oneself. Even people with "glandular problems" can practice self-restraint. They simply have a more difficult path ahead of them.

Adrienne said...

Well, this temple needs to lose weight, quit smoking and get more exercise. After 17 years in AA at least I got one thing right!

Adoro te Devote said...

rob ~ A few years ago, I suddenly gained weight. I was not eating very much at all, and due to my work schedule and other factors, I wasn't working out as much as I had in the past, but still, the weight gain was beyond normal. I was tested for all sorts of things when I brought this to my doctor's attention. I have one of those "glandular problems", but not as severe as a lot of people. In fact, it's minimal enough that they can't even medicate me.

Hypothyroidism is more than just weight gain, though. It involves being tired, etc., lots of stuff. So someone with a more severe case has more than one "thing" to just "overcome".

While I'm a little overweight, it's not out of control, and yes, that means I have to be more conscious of what I do and what I eat, and I don't always do a good job of it. But the condition predisposes me. Such is life. I thank God it's not worse than it is.

But please realize that while people do indeed to have to work to overcome their dispositions, while a healthy person who must overcome intemperance has only that issue to overcome, someone with an actual condition has to overcome intemperance, exhaustion, weight gain BEYOND their control, and other issues. It's not a neat little package.

Now...I have to go take my dog for a walk before I head out to class! :-)

Rob said...


I never said it was a neat little package. My point is that we should not judge others. I am explaining why we should not do so.

1) We tend, in our society, to focus on, and scandalize, about the "big" sins (like sex). I believe this is a skewed view, and that we shoould be trying to battle ALL the cardinal sins. I don't like seeing someone go on and on about homosexuality or drugs when they themselves are in fact a glutton, an over eater, a slothful lazy bones, etc. One is not superior to the adulterer if one is always angry (wrath), or always eating (gluttony). They are not called cardinal sins for no reason.

2) So we should try to conquer what we ourselves do wrong, even if "society" sees it as a leeser sin (such as gluttony or sloth), because, in my mind, anyway, they are sins of more or less equal gravity. (though a good, scriptural, argument can be made for the greater sin to be found in acts of homosexuality)

3) Genetic or glandular problems are sad, but, as I said before, how many sins could be traced back to them? Maybe I killed somebody because I inherited a "bad temperament" from my father. Is my offense any less? I don't think so.

We would do better to ignore the pretexts for our sins and simply set about mastering our passions with resolution.

Adoro te Devote said...

Rob ~ I don't think we are disagreeing. My only point is that we all need to be cautious in the sense that outward appearances does not necessarily indicate a sin. That's all. That's my comment at face value.

If you go back to my original comment (um, the more serious one) I said exactly what you did about mastering passions. Temperance.

Personally, I have enough of my own issues to consider rather than worry about what sins my overweight neighbor or red-nosed co-worker are facing in their lives and whether or not their sins are worse than the ones they might be commenting upon.

That fallen human nature of ours...really gets us into binds, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

Well, I've determined that most of my physical failings are due to fruit being too expensive. A pack of cigarettes or a bottle of wine (some kinds) cost less than a pineapple! What-- I'm supposed to opt for the pineapple?? For cryin' out loud, then it takes a half hour and a machete to even get into it! (Too violent.) And when a water"melon" costs more than some sofas, I'll opt for the sofa. See what I'm saying? I tell you, we need a fruit revolution in this country.. let me know when one starts.

:-) Nah, seriously--good points, here.


Rob said...


We are agreed then!

Works for me. :)

Fr. V said...

"Well, I've determined that most of my physical failings are due to fruit being too expensive."