Theology of the body: Part seven of a nine part series “Admittedly, Christians have not always appropriated and developed the spiritual treasures bestowed by God upon the Church, where the life of the spirit is not dissociated from the body or from nature or from worldly realities, but lived in and with them, in communion with all that surrounds us.” (Pope Francis, “Laudato Si’,” pa. 216) Since man’s apprehension of the ultimate end, namely, salvation is connatural, it would seem that this connaturality of prevenient grace might impede free-will, which requires a conscious or conceptual knowledge of the possible species of choice. On the contrary, in the profound essence of the soul, a decentralization of self occurs wherein man is liberated by “agape” from his egocentric desire; wherefore, he now desires God from a theocentric motive. Hence, the subject of desire is no longer man but God. This theocentric desire for God, does not close man in his subjectivity; rather, it assimilates him to God. Insofar as the ultimate end is united to the driving force of the whole spirit, man now knows the end of his desire not from without but from within, through prevenient grace, and is thereby capable of truly loving it. At the same time, free-will is efficacious insofar as the decentralization of his desire is accomplished freely. As person, he is able to step back from his dynamism and truly judge it, activate it and center it on God. Through his internal experience of certitude, he makes the act of affirmation trusting that God’s offer of love is true. Thus, in his subjective redemption, man receives a new driving force which changes his whole synthetic perception of objective reality. He thereby comes to comprehend the meaning of his existence in Christ. Thus, Christ is the absolute mediator, the living juncture of nature and grace, who alone links man to God, thereby ushering him into the supernatural. Christ is the concrete universal who affects the meaningful synthesis of man’s syntheses. He is the keystone at the center of all man’s unions and tensions therein: the body-soul relation, the man-species relation, and ultimately the man-God relation. By virtue of his redemptive incarnation, Christ is the key to the paradox of man and the mystery of corporeality insofar as God knows man’s matter “in Christ.” Henceforth the body is not simply tied to a spirit but united in personal intimacy with the master of spirits. In faith, man now “sees” the centrality of Christ, the foundational reality of all being, of all freedom, of all grace. It is Christ who envelops both the natural and the supernatural planes of human existence. With St. Thomas Aquinas, Mouroux holds for our natural desire for the supernatural. The paradox of this desire consists in this: that incarnate spirit naturally desires a supernatural fulfillment, but this fulfillment utterly transcends our natural powers. On its own the finite can never attain the Infinite. God must condescend to us if our natural desire will not be frustrated. But this condescension is gratuitous, a pure grace. It is difficult for us to sustain this basic tension of our being. In a world of sin, where we are constantly tempted to refer everything to ourselves and suffering makes our plight seem unbearable, the meaning of the world must often be put into question. Placed before the paradoxes and the ambiguity of our existence, we might lose heart. But for Mouroux, Christ is God’s answer to incarnate spirit’s desire. In the incarnation, God assumed a human nature, bore suffering and revealed the full meaning of existence to us. Christ is the creative idea through whom God thinks and wills his plan of creation and redemption. He alone is the source and model of Christian existence, as well as its principle and end: “by him and for him all things were made…” (Col. 1:16-18). Grace is a supernatural gift, a principle of divine life which pertains to the eternal; yet, this grace comes to man through Christ in history. God is natural insofar as he is who he is. The supernatural is man’s possession of God or, better, participation in God, whereby man attains more than he has by nature. It is only through Christ (the finiteinfinite, the juncture between time and eternity who contains the natural-supernatural tension) that man can attain the fulfillment desired. The uncreated grace of God is infinite but all sanctifying grace, which is man’s limited participation in the supernatural, is finite. This is true precisely because sanctifying grace is a created grace, and anything “created” implies limitations. God’s grace is immanent insofar as it comes to man in time and operates in him; however, it is transcendent since grace is divine and therefore beyond time. This is the paradox of interiority.