The Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Lady, celebrated on August 15, definitely reminds us that our body also shares in the dignity of being image and likeness of God. This is what our Catechism teaches about the basic truth of faith about ourselves:
“The human body shares in the dignity of “the image of God”: it is a human body precisely because it is animated by a spiritual soul, and it is the whole human person that is intended to become, in the body of Christ, a temple of the Spirit: Man, though made of body and soul, is a unity.” (CCC 364)
It’s a truth of faith worthy of being studied very well so we would know what practical consequences and implications are involved, especially with regard to our duties towards our own body – how to look at it, how to take care of it, etc.
Let’s remember that at the creation of man in Adam and Eve, there was a state of original holiness and justice, and because of that there was no malice at all in seeing them without any clothing.
That is how the Italian painter, Michelangelo, portrayed the creation of Adam in a fresco painting which forms part of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling in St. Peter’s Basilica. The same with both Adam and Eve in Eden just before the fall. They were both naked. Of course, now with the effects of sin, we cannot dare to go out naked unless something is wrong with our head.
The Solemnity of Our Lady’s Assumption definitely urges us to take care of our body in such a way that it too should give glory to God. For that to happen, we obviously have to exert a lot of effort to discipline its worldly urges with God’s grace, so that it gets totally animated by the proper spirit of God, which is a spirit of love as shown by Christ.
This means developing the virtue of chastity which needs to be grounded on a life of authentic piety, of spirituality, of an intimate and abiding relationship with God from whom all good things come. Absent this grounding, chastity can only be at best a shell, a matter of appearance only, of some form of social or political correctness devoid of real substance. Such condition only leads to cases of hypocrisy.
Let’s never forget that man is both body and soul. And because of the spirituality of our soul, we are meant to unite ourselves to God, our creator who made us to be in his image and likeness. It is God who gives us the grace so that our natural disposition toward what is good that ultimately is God, is actualized. In other words, we are meant to live not just a natural life, but a supernatural life with God.
To be blunt about it, any virtue that we ought to develop should have God as its cause and effect. It just cannot be the result of our human efforts alone. We need to ask and to correspond to God’s grace.
And the way to correspond to God’s grace has been shown to us and even given to us by Christ, the son of God who became man to redeem us, giving us “the way, the truth, and the life” that is proper to us.
A quick look at the life of Christ can tell us that we have to learn to pray, to offer sacrifices, to deny ourselves and carry the cross, to live a certain detachment from the things of the world, etc. That’s how we can develop chastity.*