Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
December 28, 2009
Our body, temple of the Holy Spirit, deserves care
Columnist's recent mini-stroke prompts him to take a time out
My Glass is Half Full
By MARK PICKUP
Recently I experienced what doctors call a transient ischemic attack (TIA). It is to the brain what angina is to the heart. In other words, it was a warning that I am at risk of having a stroke and is sometimes referred to as a "mini-stroke."
Therefore I have decided to pull back, relax and take six months off from writing my column for the Western Catholic Reporter. This saddens me because I enjoy writing it. If everything goes well, however, I hope to be back writing my column in September.
I want to take this opportunity to warn readers of the WCR to take heed of risk factors that may make them or their loved-ones susceptible to strokes. There are a number of risk factors for stroke that can be changed or controlled while others cannot.
According to the American Stroke Association, the risk of stroke doubles with each decade after the age of 55. A family history of heart disease or stroke raises the risk of having a stroke. (In my case, every male in my family over the age of 50 has suffered from either heart disease or stroke.)
Another risk factor is gender: more men have strokes than women. Ethnicity also raises the risk of having a stroke. Aboriginal people are at increased risk of stroke due, in part, to their higher incidence of diabetes. People of African heritage are at much higher risk of death due to stroke than Caucasians. These risk factors cannot be changed and are beyond anyone's ability to control.
Some risk factors for cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) can be changed, treated or controlled: High blood pressure can be controlled through medications, exercise and reducing excess body weight. Smoking is a risk factor that can be eliminated by quitting.
Cholesterol should be monitored. If you discover that it is high, your doctor can prescribe medications to reduce bad cholesterol and advise you on changing your diet.
Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in the world and is the cause of one in every three deaths. According to the World Health Organization, heart disease and strokes kill 17.1 million people every year.
We must take care of our bodies. The Bible tells us that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit within us. (1 Corinthians 6.19). The Church teaches that the "human body shares in the dignity of the "image of God" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 363).
It says that man is to "regard his body as good and to hold it in honour since God has created it and will raise it on the last day" (CCC, no. 365). That's why I believe we must take care of our bodies and not abuse them.
It is important that we be careful not get carried away with concern for our bodies and fall into a cult of the body that consumes much of the culture around us by idolizing physical perfection or preferring the strong over the weak. This is a distortion of the concept of honouring our bodies and can pervert or degrade human relationships. When taken to such extremes it can even harm our relationship to God. We must take care of our bodies, not idolize them.
Christians should live modest and moderate lives. It is healthy for the body, mind, and soul and can be a striking witness to an immodest and excessive age. Vanity is unbecoming. Gluttony or excessive use of alcohol is unduly punishing to the body and may actually be indicative of underlying emotional or spiritual problems that may need a healing touch by the Master.
TRUST IN CHRIST
But when all is said and done we can trust the sicknesses in our lives to Christ - whether they are physical or emotional. We who follow Jesus Christ can rest, placing our fate in his loving care. Whether we live or die, we are Christ's.
St. Paul put it best for me in his letter to the Romans: "For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. . . . For this is why Christ died and came to life, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living."
This is the reason why I can rest easy. Jesus Christ is in control.
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