THEOLOGY OF THE BODY—FR. THOMAS LOYA—2ND SATURDAY STUDY GROUP
"Love and Responsibility"
[as always, Sr. Helena's superfluous comments in brackets]
Father Loya's Byzantine church starts Lent on Monday. They have the "Vespers of Forgiveness" to prepare. They ask each other's forgiveness. They also have "ascetics" day (on the Saturday before our Ash Wed.) when they celebrate the first monastics (which today might also include religious orders/congregations).
The only correct, true worldview is SACRAMENTAL, CATHOLIC, HUMAN, LITURGICAL. Theology of the Body is a new delivery system for the entire Catholic Faith.
When some Theology of the Body people (including some well-known ones) heard that JP2G flagellated himself as a penance (this news just broke from the postulator of his cause)—and we also knew that he often slept on the floor, and prayed prostrate in the form of a cross on his chapel floor—were shocked. Why were TOB people rocked? They misunderstood that maybe JP2G was saying that the body was bad by this. But let's use some common sense: How could a man who wrote all these things about the body being good 'secretly" negate that? He was not saying that even the urges of the body are bad. They are not only neutral, they are GOOD! But asceticism and discipline are a part of the Christian life.
Celibates "simply" re-direct their urges, passions to their ultimate goal, fulfillment. Physically, emotionally we have to take steps to discipline ourselves, but it's really an affirmation that the body is so good [and powerful] that we have to consciously direct it.
In the Byzantine church, they don't eat meat or dairy all 40 days of Lent. The body rebels (at first) against asceticism. We feel hunger pains, we're irritable.
JP2G wanted to unite himself to the sufferings of Christ. JP2G saw himself as the father of the whole world (which he was)! He was clear that he saw himself suffering for the world, redemptive suffering and suffering with his contemporaries who are suffering.
We don't criticize athletes for disciplining their bodies. [St. Paul says: "they do it for a crown that fades, but we discipline ourselves for a crown that doesn't fade."] If you were to ask an athlete what defines them, they'd probably say: "the pain." The average career of an NFL player is 3 ½ years. Many say they quit because of the pain (of practice, drills, injuries, etc.)
Father Loya's church--March 18, Thurs. eve—"The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete," very deep service where they take every reference of the Bible that talks about choosing good over evil, penance, reparation. They do "full body prostrations" where they keep bowing and touching their head to the floor. It goes on for several hours. You are invited to Father's church for it. Father's church (Annunciation Church in Homer Glen, IL): www.byzantinecatholic.com You can participate a lot, a little or just observe. (This service was devised by St. Andrew of Crete.)
Our struggle is not against the flesh, but against its distortion and struggles. We are getting it ready for the age to come: "eschatological man." The source of evil is really the mind, the heart. The heart is the workshop of either righteousness or unrighteousness. Seen from below: asceticism is an unceasing battle. From above: it's enlightenment.
The material is good, but we want to master it with the spiritual. Our longings are all ordered to a longing for God.
John Paul II never used the phrase "custody of the eyes." And the real meaning of the word "custody" or "custodian" means to take care. What if a custodian of a building ran away all the time? We shouldn't look at porn ever. Not even one time [because it is just completely disordered to do one thing: scintillate, titillate, arouse, cause us to use ourselves and others, keep us on the physical level only]. But we have to get to the point where we "re-present" things that are presented wrongly to us, to see and think about things rightly. [In the movie "Avatar," the Na'vi greet each other with "I see you."]
"THE FACT THAT WILD ANIMALS WERE SUBJECT TO THE (ASCETICAL) SAINTS SPEAKS OF ANOTHER WORLD. " (Evdokimov) Humans and animals living in harmony is the way it was in the Garden of Eden.
Paul Evdokimov is a great Eastern Orthodox writer who writes in his own way about TOB.
Ascetics wanted to break the tyranny of the passions (because they can control us and disorder us).
Everyone is called to be close to God. Everyone baptized is called to be a mystic because "the mystical" is the most real. Saints and mystics are the ONLY "normal" ones. Sin brings us away from "normal." We think is sin is normal—"I'm just a human being."
Gregory Popcak book—"The Exceptional Seven Percent"—for better for ever. Only 7% of marriages are great, 15% are pretty good, the rest are struggling. (Father is having a marriage retreat in his parish.)
In TOB, you never let words go by. You capture each word and find out what it really means.
Sr. Anne: What about people who think sainthood, mysticism, asceticism is for nuns and priests and monks and not for married people?
Father: There are many, many saints, but most are NOT canonized. Perhaps the greatest saints today are the happily married couples because they are the most heroic, especially in this day and age. We are all called to be saints. Saints are also not self-aware that they are saints because being prayerful, heroic, living in reality, etc., becomes NORMAL for them. But at the same time, the closer we get to the brightness of God, the more we see our own sinfulness and need for mercy.
There's a prayer in the Byzantine church: "May our lives be unceasing penance." [Founder of Daughters of St. Paul, Blessed James Alberione said: "Live in continual conversion" or "Live with a penitent heart."]
The "mystical" is the most real, not the most unreal. The mystics were so INTO WHAT THIS WORLD REALLY IS that they were close to God. (Not AWAY from the world.)
Monastics started monasteries because early on in Church history everyone was becoming Christian and getting spiritually flabby (after the years of persecution), and so they wanted to lead a more rigorous, virtuous life. It was called white martyrdom. [All virtue is martyrdom. :] ]
We are the only creatures who can act outside of what it means to be what we are. We can act INhumanly. (A dog can never act UNdoggily.)
In Byzantine Church, when they eat the food from their Easter basket on Easter—which they've fasted from all Lent, it heightens the experience, and tastes so heavenly.
We Catholics are all supposed to abstain from meat on Friday—that never changed, even after Vatican II. Actually Vatican II said if you CAN'T abstain from meat, do something else. And it's always good to find penances that are really penances for us.
Q: I'm a vegetarian, what can I do instead of abstaining from meat?
A: Good question. You have to find where YOU will feel some pain. But the pain is not the point—it's where YOU need to do battle.
PRAYER, FASTING AND ALMSGIVING IS A TRIFECTA that purifies us. That's why the disciples couldn't cast out demons at first: they weren't doing the 3 deeply enough! Prayer makes us open to God which makes us more charitable.
Even though we're giving up something, Christianity is all about being IN something, being a PART of something.
Asceticism in a soundbite is "spiritual warfare." Warring against concupiscence and disorder so we can be ordered.