Theology of the Body : final part of a nine-part series.
“It is in the Eucharist that all that has been created finds its greatest exaltation. Grace, which tends to manifest itself tangibly, found unsurpassable expression when God himself became man and gave himself as food for his creatures. The Lord, in the culmination of the mystery of the Incarnation, chose to reach our intimate depths through a fragment of matter.” (Pope Francis, “Laudato Si’,” pa. 236) As noted in the last column, Mouroux keeps the natural-supernatural distinctions because if he did not maintain the natural order, he would have relativized natural intelligibility. Mouroux must also uphold the supernatural order because the world apart from grace makes no sense. Incarnate spirit has a natural desire for God. If man cannot build on this desire, he becomes frustrated and the desire falls into absurdity. No finite sign makes sense in itself.
Apart from the supernatural, he would not be able to explain what he believes, if he believes anything at all. At the same time, Mouroux recognizes the need for the natural order. If the world “God” had no meaning apart from revelation, man would have no rational ground for belief. Hence, experience, something happening within him, is such that he must consider the motive for accepting Christ’s grace. How man knows that when he is giving himself to God that God’s love is going to be true? How can incarnate spirit, with a natural intellect, in a world of opacity and sin, affirm a supernatural reality? From his internal experience, man can make the act of faith. Incarnate spirit is a compilation of many paradoxes, which do not explain themselves, but which are reality. The objective reason for moving up from organic to immanent and ultimately to religious activity, for affirming the truth of Christ, is grounded in man’s experience of his own certitude which always refers him beyond himself. In experiencing his polarities, man is experiencing himself, which is also an objective experience of certitude held together in Christ. This experience is true because it is de facto reality. What man experiences in himself is also objectivity; therefore, man must go beyond himself, beyond the material principle of individuality which is unintelligible in itself, into the existential order of subsistence. Man’s relations with the species and his immanent acts of freedom and love, however, can only take on meaning by his ascending to the highest point of unity which is that of religious activity where man encounters the natural-supernatural tension, which is resolved in and through Christ. By freely joining himself to Christ in love, he effects his subjective redemption and reveals the truth of objective
reality, including the ultimate meaning of corporeality as a means of service and human-divine communion The redemption is only in the stage of fi rst-fruits, so man’s polarities remain in tension. Until the Parousia, there will not be perfect unity between the body and the soul, nor perfect union between man and God. In a word, man has to live with the tensions of his polarities: matter-spirit, finite-infinite, static-dynamic, natural-supernatural, sinful-redeemed. These paradoxes of unity in diversity, manifest in the body-soul tension and in the man-God tension are such that Christ holds the diversity of these tensions and structures in the unity of his Person. The truth of unity in diversity, the ultimate signific a n c e a n d m e t a p h y s i c a l g r o u n d of possibility for corporeality, is Christ, the concrete universal, through whom and in whom man is incarnate-spirit.
Father Glenn J. Comandini holds a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical University Gregorianum and is advisor to The Catholic Spirit.