Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 27, 2006
True beauty dwells in The Holy Spirit
Coasting through life on a pretty face alone brings untold heartache
My Glass is Half Full
By MARK PICKUP
I know a ravishingly beautiful young woman with Hollywood good looks.
For the sake of anonymity, let me call her Aphrodite, after the Greek goddess of beauty. Aphrodite's statuesque beauty takes every man's breath away when she enters a room. Her physical beauty may seem like a blessing to the casual observer, but in actual fact, it has become her biggest curse.
A free pass
She does not know adversity. A life without adversity is a life without challenges. A life without challenges is a life without the opportunity to develop character. St. Paul commented that troubles and trials produce human qualities like endurance which produces strength of character (Romans 5:3-4).
Aphrodite's character development is so stunted it verges on a disability. "Aphro" rarely hears the word "no." All it takes is a slight quiver of her perfect chin, a misty look from those stunning aqua-blue eyes, and the answer shifts to "Oh, all right." The hint of feigned sadness disappears from Aphrodite's angelic face.
Aphrodite's exceptional beauty ensures she is doted upon by everyone she meets. It has been this way since she was a small child. Her divine beauty ensured she was spoiled and doted upon beginning with her first step.
Aphrodite always gets the best seat, the largest and sweetest candy bar, the most extravagant Christmas presents. She is vain, shallow, self-centred and mean. Beneath her perfect physical beauty bubbles a cauldron of resentments and bitterness. Yes, Aphrodite's exterior beauty has made her ugly inside and that is why her blessing is her curse.
Depth of crackers
People don't like Aphrodite (she thinks it's because they are jealous). There is something sad about Aphrodite. She has the depth of crackers and her life is without meaning.
The problem is physical beauty is a commodity of diminishing returns. Beauty peaks at about 22 years then slowly begins to decline. In the end, it will be consumed like a moth.
The day will come when men will no longer look at Aphrodite, rather past her or through her to a new younger beauty walking behind her. Aphrodite will be plain "Jane" which was her real name all along.
Western society is obsessed with youth and physical beauty. It is a poverty of the age in which we live. Youth fades. So does physical beauty. Yet so much attention and investment is dedicated to clinging to their memory long after youth and beauty have faded away. Botox and collagen injections, tummy tucks, face lifts, volumizing vitamin fortified shampoos, conditioners and gallons of hair colour to hide the grey become increasingly desperate and sad.
Meanwhile, the true inner self - heart, spirit and soul - are starved of attention and important eternal development.
The spiritual soul is the very thing Jane neglected as long as she was Aphrodite. A physical body will surely wither and die but the spiritual soul is immortal.
The Bible tells us that a human life is but a breath of time: "You have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow. You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears" (James 4:14). The psalmist compared us to grass that flourishes in the morning and in the evening is cut down and withers. (Psalm 90:5-6).
The Church teaches that the human body is animated by its spiritual soul. The body and soul together form a profound unity and single nature made in the "image of God" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 364-365). Though body and soul are separated at death they will be reunited at the final resurrection (CCC no. 366).
Sanctity of the body
We must have reverence and respect for our physical bodies. (Even a broken body like mine is a gift from God.) Sanctity of the body is the Scriptural concept. Having reverence for the body is different than worshipping it.
St. Paul said, "Do you not know your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?" (1 Corinthians 6:19). He went on to exhort us to glorify God in our bodies. This happens when we follow Christ. Jane can glorify God in her body. Aphrodite cannot.
Did you know it is impossible to believe in Jesus Christ without sharing in his Spirit? It is the Holy Spirit who reveals who Jesus really is. Life in our physical body is a series of "teachable moments;" the Holy Spirit is the divine teacher.
Aphrodite is not a student; her ego ensures that. But Jane can be a student of life, if she allows it. If Jane turns her spiritual ears to the leading of the Holy Spirit, then even adversity, trials, and sorrow become teachable moments. The divine teacher will become the divine counsellor and comforter.
Spirit of truth
Jesus said "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you" (John 14:16-18).
The "Counsellor" is the Holy Spirit. He will reveal Jesus Christ as the great I Am, God made man, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of world. Unlike Aphrodite, Jane can be a child of God through believing upon Jesus as Messiah (John 1:12).
Through faith in Christ's atoning sacrifice on the cross, she can be reconciled to God. Life will become a rich source of "teachable moments" in preparation for eternity.
With the Holy Spirit abiding within Jane, living a prayerful, repentant and sacramental life for Jesus, receiving his body in the Eucharist, Jane's heart, spirit and soul can be nurtured to blossom into something beautiful and lasting. Outwardly she may age and diminish, but inwardly she will be renewed and spiritually grow.
Goodbye Aphrodite. Welcome home Jane.
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