Caring for our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit

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caring for our bodies

I am sick. The next thing I’m probably going to do after writing this column is go to an emergency room. (That might be a not-so-subtle warning to the editors about the coming weeks.) I’m scared. I’m ashamed. I’m embarrassed. I thought my life was about gratitude. But with gratitude comes a response of good stewardship. Now I keep meditating on my pride.

I will tell you a funny story though. Earlier this year I went to doctors, hoping to be a better steward of my temple of the Holy Spirit (so humbling and sometimes unbelievable). It’s a long story, but let’s just say the stress test I was stressed out about didn’t happen. I might have cried a bit after. A friend saw me shortly later and asked (it was afternoon): “Did you just wake up?” “No,” I whined, “I failed my stressed test.” The story is best with the full details: The aforementioned friend is a Dominican sister who has spent decades in high school education. She consoled me by announcing that I shouldn’t worry because she knows someone who failed her urine test because she didn’t study.

I laughed and laughed and was so grateful for Christian friendship.

I’m scared and ashamed and embarrassed because I’m thinking about all the ways I could have done things differently. I want to rewind. I want to apologize — primarily to God. And also to every person who has said to me what a “good” or “saintly” person I am. Writing about spiritual things and going to Mass daily doesn’t guarantee that.

A shared journey

And the reason I’m oversharing is: We are all in this together. So many of us are trying to be faithful followers of Jesus — and love him so much.

At the same time, many (all?) of us are weak. We don’t want to be. And maybe we hate that we are. But gratitude can’t actually be genuine without humility.

We need God. That’s the whole point. Don’t fight it.

I’m clearly preaching to myself — which is what I often do. I don’t have it all figured out. Any writer who tells you otherwise is probably putting you on.

What I’ve come to appreciate lately is that the readings in the Acts of the Apostles are not mere relics. A week ago, I found myself in an awkward situation at Mass. I tried to hide it, but a lovely lady noticed and ran after me. She took care of me and insisted I relax in the most persistent and loving and motherly and sisterly of ways. And her name was Elizabeth. This is Visitation season, and that cannot be a coincidence. I saw life in her, and maybe she saw the same. Not just human life, but our divine life by baptism.

Hope amidst failures

Whatever we have done. Whatever we have failed to do. There is hope.

My friend, Stephen Rasche, gave the commencement speech at The Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law this year. He talked about his own health emergency that made him reassess things — and led him to dedicate his lawyerly vocation to persecuted Christians, spending extensive time now in both Iraq and Nigeria. We work — and we need to — but in the midst of it we can lose sight of not only what’s most important but also what’s most basic. I can’t highlight good stories, help others or pray for anyone if I’m dead because I didn’t take care of that main creation God gave me to be a steward of! It’s a seemingly simple point. But we can miss it in the chaos of daily life, can’t we?

I’ve seen Elizabeth now and again over the years in the NYC Church community. She even came up to me excited after seeing me on EWTN once. (The Big Apple can be smaller than we realize!) While insisting on holding my hand for support, she said with tremendous wisdom that my main problem was not medical, it was in my head. She wasn’t over-spiritualizing anything. She was pointing out the obvious we often miss: Don’t overthink. Believe. Trust. Move forward. God is trustworthy and will give you the grace.

And incredibly God loves us enough to send us reminders when we forget!

Kathryn Jean Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and editor-at-large of National Review.