Sometimes at the end of a confession, when a person has expressed all of the sins they can recall, will ask me, “Can you think of anything else?” They are not supposing that I know them so well that I might make some suggestion of sin of theirs that I might know about but rather is there any area that they may not have considered. Visiting a whole examination of conscience is a difficult thing to do especially with Easter on our tails and long lines outside of the confessional, but there are generally a couple of questions I might ask.
One is, “Are you taking care of yourself?” We often think of the Christian life – particularly the road to sainthood – as one of denial. There are times when the denial of the necessities of life are called for. There is also both a time for denying ourselves the surpluses in life and a time for celebrating with them. But as a general rule, we are to treat our bodies (that is, ourselves) with care.
The body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. There is a certain dignity that is present in that. We should treat it at least as well as we treat our church buildings. We believe our churches should be clean, well maintained, well appointed without being ostentatious, welcoming, inspiring, consecrated and wholly directed toward the things that are Godly and noble.
Should our bodies, physical and living temples of the Holy Spirit, receptacles of the Body and Blood of Jesus being any less so treated? Do we give ourselves the rest we need (to the extent we are able), consume the proper food and drink at the appropriate amounts, do we exercise, follow the direction of our doctors, observe the times of penance as well as the times of rejoicing, and adorn our bodies modestly?
Being Christian does not mean we ignore our bodies or our health unless it is called upon for the greater glory of God or benefit of our brothers and sisters. (After all, we do hold up martyrs as an ideal.) But this life is also gift, and we should treat this gift as preciously as we can.