Saturday, October 31, 2015

All Hallow's Eve 2015

“I always wonder,” said Lise, “why, in Britain and America, we make Hallowe’en into a frightening thing with, for children, ghosts and skulls, witches, spiders and black cats, when it is the eve of one of the most radiant feasts of the year—All Saints, all those men and women who have shone out light and goodness, courage and faith into the world.”
 “And All Souls is radiant too,” said Soeur Marguerite—it followed the next day. “For us there is loss, but for the dead, for him or her, it is the culmination, the crown . . . .” Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy, Rumer Godden
Many Christians eschew all the ghosts and skulls, witches, etc. of Halloween out of fear, and I have to admit that I have been among them. Now, not so much, although I do think that you can go overboard, and sometimes in a dangerous way. However, there is a better reason to not get too caught up in the spookiness of the evening, and that is because we might miss the glory of the coming day.

Apparently, this is what they do in Sweden on All Saints' Day Lovely.
Photo Credit: David Castor


Monday, October 26, 2015

Learning to Read

It's been about four years since I got my first Kindle Fire. When I bought it, I didn't really have any intention of reading books on it. I just wanted a cheap tablet. Gradually though, I started buying books. At first I just took advantage of really good deals, like free books or all of Walker Percy's book for $2.00 each. Then I bought some more. I like the idea of being able to go on a trip and just take that Kindle instead of eight books. You have to have at least eight books because you never know what type of book you're going to want to read at any given moment, and they're heavy and take up a lot of room.

Pretty soon, I was reading everything on the Kindle Fire. It was convenient in a lot of ways. Easy to take with me, and easy to take notes. I'm no good at taking notes with pen or pencil. I just don't do it. All-in-all I liked it, and I still like it, but then, there is the glaring problem. (There's a glare problem, too, but I can deal with that.)

You can do a lot more on a Kindle Fire than read. You can check your email incessantly. You can check Facebook. You can play solitaire. You can take pictures. It is, basically, the most distracting item that I own.

Too much stuff
All this distraction militates against sitting for long periods of time and reading your book. Sometimes the distraction creeps in in subtle ways. What is this French word? Oh, I can just look it up on Google. Twenty minutes later, I get back to the book. After awhile I realized that I was incapable of just sitting down and reading for more than about 10 minutes at a time. This is really bad!

So, I have spent the last few months training myself to read without interrupting myself. Doing what I used to do for hours at a time if left alone, has been a real battle. Lately, it has begun to get better. For one thing, many of the books that I have been reading for the 52 Authors series are not available as ebooks. When I'm reading a real book, the distractions are still close by, but not actually part of what I'm holding.

There's a lot written about problems with the internet. People are worried about security and the potential for constant surveillance, and those are very real problems. But what really bothers me is how it changes me. All my life, one of my greatest pleasures has been sitting with a books and losing myself for afternoon or evening. For years, I've been looking forward to the day when I retire and can read the books that I never have time for now. I don't want to lose this opportunity because I'm wasting my time doing worthless things.


Saturday, October 24, 2015

52 Saints ~ Help Needed

See below if you are having trouble leaving comments.

...but I'm really thinking about it as 52 people who were saints.

As some of you know, I have been contributing to a series on 52 different authors on Maclin Horton's blog, Light on Dark Water. During the year, people have been suggesting different topics that we could write about next year, and two of those topics were 52 Movies and 52 Saints. Then, someone had the idea that we should do movies there, and saints here, so that is what we are going to try to do. Several commenters from that blog have volunteered to write about saints here, but I would like some of the people who read The Three Prayers to contribute also. I know you are out there because you have told me so, and I know that several of you would be more than capable of writing a post about a saint--or two--or three, so I hope you will volunteer.

I've been thinking a lot about this project, and about how we can keep it from becoming just a lot of pious hagiography. If I'm going to do this--if we are going to do this--I would like it to be a bit meatier than that. I've been trying to think of ways that that could happen.

At first I thought that we shouldn't do saints that were really popular like Francis, Theresa of Avila, etc., because there are a million websites out there that have so much stuff about them and everybody knows it all, but then it occurred to me that if you can talk about them from a different angle, one that not so many people are familiar with that could be great. I mean, everybody knows most of what is in Story of a Soul, but if you could write about St. Thérèse's letters, or her correspondence with the young priest, Maurice, that would work well. Or it could be some personal experience you had with the saint, for instance, I could write about the things that happened on our family's trip to visit St. Thérèse's relics. Or you could write about different authors who have written about the saint or a review a book, for instance, Heather King has a very nice book about the year she with Story of a Soul. There are just a lot of different ways to approach the saints.

It would be nice, though, to have some saints we don't know very well. Pope St. John Paul II canonized so many and there ought to be good information out there. And someone asked about Orthodox saints, and that would be great, but not protestants who we think are probably saints.

 I plan to do this on Sundays, so I would need them by Saturday. I will take the first Sunday and I will write about Junipero Serra.

So, if you are willing to give this a try, please let me know in the comments, or contact me any way you know how. Tell me what saints you want to write about, and if you have an idea of when you want to do it, tell me that, too.

 If you are thinking you can't do this, please give it another thought.


For some reason, it's very difficult to leave comments here and I have no idea what to do about it. When you write a comment, copy it before you submit it and then you can paste it and resend if it doesn't appear. It usually works the second time around. I'm really sorry about this.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Just Don't

Brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to welcome Christ and accept his power. Help the Pope and all those who wish to serve Christ and with Christ’s power to serve the human person and the whole of mankind. 
Do not be afraid. Open, I say open wide the doors for Christ. To his saving power open the boundaries of states, economic and political systems, the vast fields of culture, civilization and development. Do not be afraid. Christ knows “that which is in man”. He alone knows it.  See more here
This is part of the second reading in the Office of Readings for the feast of Pope St. John Paul II, and it comes from the homily at his inaugural.

I chose this particular passage for two reasons. One is that like so many angels in the Bible, St. John Paul encouraged us from the very beginning to let go of our fear. I don't think we listened!

Fear is ubiquitous these days both in the political and religious realms. I think that our zeitgeist is Chick Little. The reason for our lack of fear is not that bad things will not happen--they will--but because the One who calls us to endure them is with us and He is completely trustworthy. If anyone ever suffered the evils that men perpetrate on one another, it was St. John Paul, and yet, after living through the tragedies of World War II and the Communist regime in Poland he still tells us, "Do not be afraid."

The second reason I chose the passage is in that second paragraph. It sounds a little like Pope Francis, doesn't it?

Fear is one of the most damaging emotions of all. On one hand it can paralyze us. On the other, it can cause us to run around in a frenzy accomplishing nothing. In Twelve-step programs they will tell you fear is the chief activator of our faults. If you start watching for this in your life, you will see that it is true.

We are told in 2 Timothy, chapter 1 that, "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." Sound minds seem to be in short supply lately. We need to ask the Lord to give us a sound mind and that power of the Lord that St. John Paul spoke of in another passage in his homily.
...a power that has its source not in the powers of this world, but instead in the mystery of the Cross and the Resurrection. 
The absolute, and yet sweet and gentle, power of the Lord responds to the whole depths of the human person, to his loftiest aspirations of intellect, will and heart. It does not speak the language of force, but expresses itself in charity and truth.  
The new Successor of Peter in the See of Rome today makes a fervent, humble and trusting prayer: Christ, make me become and remain the servant of your unique power, the servant of your sweet power, the servant of your power that knows no dusk.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015


We had think places, private and recognized: Jon's on the roof, Rumer's in what she called the Secret Corner, which was not secret at all but a space under the roof stairs, but we soon discovered that, like snails, we could take our think houses with us anywhere; it was just as easy to go into "think" leaning on the roof parapet in the sun--the sun was a great help--or on the [boat] Sonachora holding our wave poles--the river too, helped thought--or in the tomato bed or up a tree, which was rather like the roof, because height and being high above people was good. We needed to be secret even from one another because we were "with book" or poem or painting, as if a seed, or perhaps "grit" is a better simile, had lodged itself in our minds. A grit from where? Anywhere: it might be some phrase we had heard, or a sight seen; it could be a line in a book, or an especial picture, but something suddenly detached itself from the thousands of other things round it and, once lodged in our minds, seemed to secrete til a whole would emerge, It was like an oyster making a pearl, except that the results were never pearls.                                                                                           Jon & Rumer Godden, Two Under the Indian Sun
Having come very late to the addiction of writing, it has only been in the last few years that I have encountered the experience described in the above paragraph. I have always had those periods of sitting and having a "think", but I was about 60 before those thoughts insisted on being written down. Once I begin to write a piece in my head, it lodges itself in the front of my brain, and makes it impossible for me to concentrate on anything else for very long. Paying attention at Mass is a constant struggle. When I'm praying the rosary with my husband, I announce the mystery and then find myself sitting completely still at the end of a decade, lost in the middle of a paragraph until my husband reminds me what I'm supposed to be doing. It's a sort of brooding over a thought until it comes full-grown.

We come by this brooding honestly since our Father in Heaven broods over us in this same way. Not content to just create us and leave us to fend for ourselves, He involves himself in every part of our lives if we let Him, and even if we don't. We are words proceeding from his Word and He is constantly lopping off the ungainly phrase and inserting the perfect synonym until we are a proclamation of His glory. It is not only the heavens that proclaim the glory of God.

The trick is to trust Him enough to let Him do it. We somehow get the idea that the work is ours. We tend to self-edit excessively and, inevitably, we end up looking like a toddler's scrawl instead of an illuminated manuscript.


Sunday, October 18, 2015

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

     Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths, 
     Enwrought with golden and silver light, 
     The blue and the dim and the dark cloths 
     Of night and light and the half-light, 
     I would spread the cloths under your feet: 
     But I, being poor, have only my dreams; 
     I have spread my dreams under your feet; 
     Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
                                                                W. B. Yeats


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Who We Were, Part II: Departures

"The world's cities will be our home. Come and tour with me." Thus went the proposal of cellist Daigo Kobayashi to his bride-to-be. Unfortunately, "...reality was harsh," and the beginning of Departures finds Kobayashi jobless after the one orchestra that would hire him disbands. And so, until they can get back on their feet financially, they move to the house in the province of Yamagata that Kobayashi inherited from his mother. 

There aren't a lot of employment opportunities in Yamagata for a professional cellist, so when Kobayashi sees this ad in the newspaper he jumps at the chance.
No age restriction, good salary, short working hours, full-time employee, NK Agent working with departures.
Kobayashi soon finds to his horror that there was an error in the ad and that departures should have read the departed, and that the job consists of casketing or encoffinment. He is appalled at the idea of dealing with dead bodies; however, the large salary, and the lack of other opportunities soon lead him to begin his career as a ceremonial mortician.

In Japan as in the United States, the task of preparing the departed for burial was originally performed by the family, but now it has become the job of professional morticians. There is however, a major difference. Instead of whisking the body out of sight of the grieving family until some mysterious procedure has been performed in secret, the encoffinment is a ritual ceremony performed in the presence of the family and friends. The ceremony is very slow and peaceful. Each movement is thoughtful and respectful of the fact that this body is a part of the father, the mother, the child of the people who are observing the preparation. It is always easy to imagine that in our mortuaries, the bodies of the deceased are manipulated in some way that we don't even want to imagine, but there is none of that here. Everything is beautiful, and though it is sad, the families are quietly brought to a peaceful place.

In Departures, we see how Kobayashi gradually comes to that place of peace himself; however, he still has to contend with the misunderstandings of those around him, especially that of his wife. His profession is considered disgraceful, and it is a long time before he can tell his wife the truth about his job. He has to endure the contempt of his neighbors, too, but he doesn't let them dissuade him.

 Along with the main narrative of the movie, there is the story of Kobayashi's relationship, or lack of relationship with his father. He cannot even remember his father's face, only his desertion. This tale unwinds slowly in the background of the movie like the haunting music of Kobayashi's cello. 

The movie is not without flaws. It begins with a comic scene that I think would have been better placed later in the movie, and some of conversations that Kobayashi has with his boss are a bit incomprehensible to me. And then, after the ceremony, the bodies are cremated, although this is understandable since this is a crowded and mostly non-Christian country. However, it seems like a curtailment of what so far has been a process that is very much in accord with nature.

Watching this movie, I can't help but remember the day that my mother died. She was sitting in a chair in her apartment, and while my sister and I sat, and waited for the funeral home to come take her away, it was just like many other days that the three of us had sat together visiting. I wished more than anything that we could just take her in the bedroom and lay her out ourselves. It seemed so much more the right thing to do. Why do we give these personal. loving tasks over to other people?

Neither Departures nor Still Life is a religious film. Both Daigo Kobayashi and John May perform their offices for people of all faiths or none. Nonetheless, both of these movies seem to speak of a view of taking care of the dead that shows much more understanding of the reality of the value of our bodies than the notions of many Christians. Our bodies are not just disposable shells for our souls. They have played an integral part in every moment of our lives: all our joys and sorrows, all our loves and hatreds, every fear, every Sacrament. Between the time of our loved ones' deaths and their burials, they are still with us in a very real way, and if we spend this brief period with that in mind, it can help us move more peacefully into the time to come.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Who We Were, Part I: Still Life

Still Life is the story of John May, a man whose job it is to find the relatives or friends of those who have died alone, and failing that, to arrange for their funeral and burial, and this he does. He searches untiringly for the smallest clue that might lead him to someone who cares about the deceased. When this proves impossible, or when the relative doesn't want to have anything to do with the funeral, John does what he can to provide a fitting funeral. If the deceased had a religious affiliation, he finds the appropriate place of worship for the funeral; he chooses music that the deceased liked based on the things he finds in his home; he writes lovely eulogies; and then he attends the funeral service and burial.

Unfortunately, this is a slow process and the powers-that-be are unhappy with the amount of time and money John spends on these anonymous people who aren't there (so says his boss) and don't care. And nobody cares--except for John. Soon after the movie begins two things happen that transform John's world. First, he gets called to the apartment that is directly across the street from his. In this apartment he finds poverty and squalor, but he also finds the remains of the life that has been lived within view of his own window. Second, his boss informs him that in an attempt to economize, his department is being merged with another, and he is being let go. His boss gives him three days to wrap up this last case, and then he will have, "an opportunity for a new life."

As the movie progresses, we are met on every side by lonely, isolated people--the people who would have eventually ended up in John's purview. We meet them living quiet, seemingly normal lives, but without any real contact with others. They live in quiet suburbs, in senior homes, or on the street. As I watched the movie, I kept hearing Eleanor Rigby  in the back of my head--all the lonely people indeed.

Still Life is in many ways a profoundly sad movie, but it is a radiantly beautiful movie. It is full of light, both physical and metaphorical. Some of the scenes seem to glow. The real light, however, comes from John's realization that even these unknown lonely lives have value. He also knows that our bodies are not just leftover packaging to be thrown away, but part of our very selves. And perhaps his knowledge comes from the fact that he is himself one of these lonely, isolated people.

Like John May, this movie is very quiet and understated. Athough the topic of the movie is serious, there is a quiet humor throughout the film. I would highly recommend this film to anyone who likes thoughtful movies. I think it may turn out to be one of my 10 or 15 favorites.


P. S. Trying to discover why this post is getting so many visits, I find that it is linked to the First Things blog. If you are new here, welcome, look around, feeling free to comment.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

More From Mr. Lewis

Following up on the last post.
"Two sights have I seen," said Farsight. "One was Cair Paravel filled with dead Narnians and living Calormenes: the Tisroc's banner advanced upon your royal battlements: and your subjects flying from the city--this way and that, into the woods....
No one could speak.
"And the other sight, five leagues nearer than Cair Paravel, was Roonwit the Centaur lying dead with a Calormene arrow in his side. I was with him in his last hour and he gave me this message to your Majesty: to remember that all worlds draw to an end and that noble death is a treasure which no one is too poor to buy."
"So," said the King, after a long silence, "Narnia is no more."

Who, who has ever read the Narnia Chronicles can ever forget the way he felt the first time he read those words? I'm not sure I've ever read anything else that gave me such a feeling of loss.

A while back I posted Carl's Sandburg's poem Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind. This poem always reminds me of a talk on teaching history that I attended at a homeschool conference about 20 years ago during which the speaker said, "The thing to remember about our age, is that it's only an age." I had never really thought about that before, and it has really stuck with me. 

We are born into a certain time and place and culture, and we accept it for what it is; and for a long time it never occurs to us that things won't always be the way they are. Gradually, we learn that we are wrong. Things always change, but sometimes they change slowly and the changes don't seem to be important--the basic culture seems to remain the same. This obviously isn't one of those times. Things are changing so quickly that we can barely keep up with the changes.

Lately, it has been born in on me that the country that I was born into is no more. We turned a corner and it seems that we can't or won't go back. From my reading, I know that the corner was turned long before I was born, but we seem to have always been in hailing distance of where we started. Now we have completely lost our bearings.

Perhaps this sounds overly pessimistic or defeatist, but I'm not talking about throwing in the towel. I'm just saying that looking back over our shoulders in hopes that the past will return is useless. The above quote from The Last Battle is, after all, in the exact middle of the book, the end of chapter 8 of 16 chapters. King Tirian and the Seven Friends of Narnia did not just pack it up and go home, but they did realize that whatever was to come was going to be different than what had gone before.

This morning's biblical reading from the Office of Readings is from the book of Haggai. The Lord is encouraging Zerubbabel who is trying to rebuild the temple after the Babylonian Captivity.

     Who is left among you 
     that saw this house in its former glory? 
     And how do you see it now? 
     Does it not seem like nothing in your eyes? 

     But now take courage, Zerubbabel, says the Lord, 
     and take courage, Joshua, high priest, son of Jehozadak, 
     And take courage, all you people of the land, 
     says the Lord, and work! 
     For I am with you, says the Lord of hosts. 
     This is the pact that I made with you 
     when you came out of Egypt, 
     And my spirit continues in your midst; 
     do not fear! 

     For thus says the Lord of hosts: 
     One moment yet, a little while, 
     and I will shake the heavens and the earth, 
     the sea and the dry land. 
     I will shake all the nations, 
     and the treasures of all the nations will come in. 
     And I will fill this house with glory, 
     says the Lord of hosts. 
     Mine is the silver and mine the gold, 
     says the Lord of hosts. 
     Greater will be the future glory of this house 
     than the former, says the Lord of hosts; 
     And in this place I will give peace, 
     says the Lord of hosts.

The temple built by Zerubbabel never compared with the magnificent temple of King Solomon, and he never saw this prophecy fulfilled in the glorious splendor of the Church, but he did the work that he was called to do, and the temple was re-built in spite of government interference and the fact that half the workers had to keep watch while the other half had to wear swords while they worked. The book of Ezra also tell us that, "Many of the priests, Levites, and heads of ancestral houses, who were old enough to have seen the former house, cried out in sorrow as they watched the foundation of the present house being laid. Many others, however, lifted up their voices in shouts of joy."

I guess we will do some of each, but in doing so, we would do well to remember King Tirian's advice to Jill, "If you must weep, sweetheart . . . Turn your face aside and see you wet not your bowstring."


P. S. I guess if someone asked me what book I would recommend for everyone to read at present, The Last Battle would be it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

In Which I Attempt to Emulate a Marshwiggle

During the past week or so, mostly in conjunction with the pope's visit I think, I have begun to sense an almost palpable darkness in the hearts of several people whom I know. If it were one or two people I would just shrug it off because most everybody is in a gloomy mood now and then, but it's more widespread than that. This morning I was thinking it reminded me of something, and I realized it was this.
Now the Witch said nothing at all, but moved gently across the room, always keeping her face and eyes very steadily toward the Prince. When she had come to a little ark set in the wall not far from the fireplace, she opened it, and took out first a handful of a green powder. This she threw on the fire. It did not blaze much, but a very sweet and drowsy smell came from it. And all through the conversation which followed, that smell grew stronger, and filled the room, and made it harder to think. Secondly, she took out a musical instrument rather like a mandolin. She began to play it with her fingers--a steady, monotonous thrumming that you didn't notice after a few minutes. But the less you noticed it, the more it got into your brain and your blood. This also made it hard to think. After she had thrummed for a time (and the sweet smell was now strong), she began speaking in a sweet, quiet voice.
"Narnia?" she said. "Narnia? I have often heard your Lordship utter that name in your ravings. Dear Prince, you are very sick. There is no land called Narnia." 

I think that if we know that where sin abounds grace doth much more abound, we have to also realize that the converse is true. Where grace abounds, the purveyor of sin is eager to get in his innings. Thrum, thrum, thrum it goes. The pope is about to do something that will destroy the Church. The synod is rigged. How can so-and-so can say thus-and-so? And the smoke whirls and thickens, and we stumble on almost to the brink of despair.

In all the confusion, it's difficult to know what is true and what isn't, but what we know for sure is this. Jesus did not wake up this morning and say, "Hey, what's going on? How am I ever going to deal with this mess?" And we also know this. None of us is living in this particular place and this particular time by mistake, and each of us is called in some specific way to shine among [a warped and crooked generation] like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. Phil 2:15-16.

Note that I am not saying that these are not dire times for the Church. They are. But if we constantly let ourselves be distracted by our fears, and doubts, and the opinion of everyone on earth who has access to a computer, it will be impossible to emit even a very dull glow. We need spend much more time on prayer, on what we know to be Truth as we do on the spurious news of the world. We can't afford at this time be muddled in our thinking or troubled in our hearts. We need to quiet the thrum, thrum, thrum and listen for the still, small voice.

Chapter 1 of 2 Peter tells us this:
...[W]e possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
Do it. We don't have time not to do it.

For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. Isaiah 60:2

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Pope's Visit

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matt 5:11-12
As I read about and listen to what people have to say about the Holy Father's visit to America, what continually puzzles me is that almost everyone seems to look at the visit from a purely political point of view. It's hard to know, really, what the pope has done and said because it is ceaselessly spun from every direction. What if it has nothing to do with politics? What if he doesn't really care what the media thinks? What if he is just exercising the role of a prophet and speaking to his people--and I believe he would include all people in this category--about the gospel? I think that we have to at least consider this possibility.

 I'm sure that Jesus did not go home at night and worry about how Ceasar, or Caiaphas, or the 1st century version of media pundits took his message. I don't think the pope does either. And none of us can really judge the effects of this visit because none of us knows what is happening on a spiritual level. Nobody knows how the individuals who have seen him in person, looked him in the face or even watched him on TV have been changed by their experience with the pope, and how that change may affect the world. It's not just what the pope is doing and saying; it's the Holy Spirit inhabiting the words of the Gospel and moving in peoples' hearts.

It seems to me that our response should be, as our response should always be, to look at ourselves and ask where we fall short of the gospel and pray to be changed. Then we won't have time to fret ourselves to death about what the media and the administration and the powers that be think, and we will be prepared for whatever comes, good or bad.
Dear Jesus, help me to spread Your fragrance everywhere I go.Flood my soul with Your spirit and life.Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly,That my life may only be a radiance of Yours.Shine through me, and be so in meThat every soul I come in contact withMay feel Your presence in my soul.Let them look up and see no longer me, but only Jesus!Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as You shine,So to shine as to be a light to others;The light, O Jesus will be all from You; none of it will be mine;It will be you, shining on others through me.Let me thus praise You the way You love best, by shining on those around me.Let me preach You without preaching, not by words but by my example,By the catching force of the sympathetic influence of what I do,The evident fullness of the love my heart bears to You. Amen. Blessed John Henry Newman

Friday, October 2, 2015

Who We Are

By me this time, not Anthony Esolen.

By this time, everybody has read about Lila Perry, the transexual teenager who wants to use the girls' restroom. For most of us this disconnect between body and soul boggles the mind. And then, I have heard discussions on public radio about Body Integrity Identity Disorder wherein people do not feel like parts of their bodies belong to them, and are having limbs amputated. These are extreme examples of this dis-integration of body and soul, but they are only the far end of spectrum on which we all find ourselves in one way or another.

We don't know a great deal about Adam and Eve's life before the Fall, but one thing we do know is that they were not gnostic, neither were they materialists. They didn't have to convince themselves to get out of bed in the morning; they didn't overeat until they were miserable; they would have been completely stymied by Paul's declaration in Romans that, "What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate." Their bodies and souls were united in perfect harmony, so much so that I wonder if they even thought of them as being two different things.

We, post-Fall, are in some ways like Aristophanes's, divided androgynous beings.
After the division the two parts of man, each desiring his other half, came together, and throwing their arms about one another, entwined in mutual embraces, longing to grow into one, they began to die from hunger and self-neglect, because they did not like to do anything apart . . .
There is something within us that always yearns for that original integrity, and yet, there something else within us that keeps us always at war with ourselves. It seems to me that the entire battle of our lives is to get it all back together, so to speak--to be truly human. I always laugh a bit whenever someone says that we act a certain way because we are only human. No! We act that way because our humanity is damaged.

Sometimes, there is a tendency to opt out of the battle by jettisoning one part or the other. At one end of this spectrum are those who are ultra-spiritual, holding the body of no value at all and anxious to be shed of it. At the other are the materialists. But the rest of us are somewhere in between. We seldom find the correct balance between then two, and I think it's important to realize that this is true because it gives us more compassion for those who are to the right and left of us on the spectrum.

Of course, we can never fix ourselves. We can only fix our eyes firmly on the Lord while he performs the painful reuniting surgery that is the stuff of our lives. It never ceases to be difficult, and even the saints, who achieve such a remarkable degree of harmony between body and soul, are never free of the pain separation, while they long for that day when they finally become who they were created to be.