As far back as I can remember, I recall so vividly being told that every human being begins his or her life following a typical process of crawling, walking, and then running. These basic ways of learning to use various muscles in the body correlate with skills such as physical balance, trust and self-confidence.
The Church, in Her wisdom, allows us to learn from these basic human experiences and to extrapolate from them some added insights into the deeper and more spiritual sides of our lives. We are thus encouraged to see the God-given unity of the body and the soul—the complementary physical and immortal dimensions of our beings.
Further, the Church as the Spotless and Pure Bride of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, cultivates the unity of body and the soul in every human person through these various processes of human development such as: psychological growth and interdependence, spiritual and emotional growth and physical maturation. She guides us to attain sound and critical thinking in the formation of one’s personal philosophy of life and the pursuit of virtue and constancy, bringing one to interior peace and an awareness of God’s purpose and unique love in His creation of each one of us. Thus, we may unreservedly conclude that the Church, as Mother and Teacher, opens the minds and hearts of all Her children to live completely human and spiritual lives at every age of our development, whether we are crawling, walking, or running.
In considering this article, I added the concept of “Rising” to the elementary human aspects of physical, spiritual, and emotional development. Rising, for the Christian, is fundamentally the central and most revered aspect of his or her life. The central mystery of our faith, of course, is the Resurrection of Our Blessed Lord from the dead. It is, moreover, part of our Profession of Faith at Mass every Sunday when we pronounce our eagerness for the resurrection of the body.
Resurrection is truly the destiny of every human being. We believe in an afterlife—the resurrection and reunification of our bodies with our immortal souls. In this state—fully human and with glorified bodies—we shall spend Eternity, either in heaven or in hell.
Like learning how to crawl, walk, and run, we must learn about “rising.” Learning how to develop in this life, according to our Christian faith, includes learning how to make choices that will help our development for eternal life. Each of us learns how to make choices in favor of God’s love and in opposition to the “envy of the devil.” As we are taught in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “The consequences of original sin and of all men’s personal sins puts the world as a whole in the sinful condition aptly described in St. John’s expression, ‘the sin of the world.’ (Jn.1:29) This expression can also refer to the negative influence exerted on people by communal situations and social concerns that are the fruit of men’s sins.” (CCC 408)
We have entered the Penitential season of Lent. This time is proscribed by the Church—and, even today, is generally accepted in secular society—as a time of prayer and renewal of heart, mind, and soul. The end of Lent concludes with the drama of the Sacred Three Days—the Holy Triduum—that leads us to the celebration of Easter, the Resurrection of Jesus from the Dead. Our lives of faith always connect us with the Eternal—a future secured for us by God our Loving Father through the death and resurrection of His only Son, and by the guarantee of the Holy Spirit in and through His Holy Church.
The pastoral principle stated by the Roman Catechism is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In Lent, and throughout our lives, we would do well to remember it. “The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends. Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love.” (Roman Catechism, Preface 10; cf. 1Cor 13:8.) (CCC #25)