“This is my body”

I wrote this a while ago and couldn’t decide if I should run it. Sometimes I leave things as drafts for a few weeks figuring out whether they’re “personal” or “public.” I think this one is going public. Be gentle on me.

We brought Kiddo#4 to church for the first time on Sunday, April 6th, and I don’t have a “disaster post” for you. That’s bad from a “funny weblog” perspective (I know you were looking forward to a tale of me being spit up-on or dealing with four screaming Kiddos) but good from a “Philangelus keeps her sanity” perspective.

The worst that happened was a well-timed poop by Kiddo#4, so I went downstairs during the offering of the gifts to do a quick-change. (Don’t “tsk” me: my Patient Husband had the envelopes.) I got back at the consecration just in time for Kiddo#4 to decide pooping had made room for more milk, and therefore it must be my responsibility to put more there.

I’m a discreet nurser-in-public so I just slipped K4 around in the Mayawrap, and at the moment I latched him on, I heard the priest say, “This is my body, which will be given up for you.”

You know those “epiphany” moments? I had one right then, and it lasted right until the end of Mass.

There are only two times in the average human being’s life when we can expect to say “this is my body” to another human being. One of them would be a mother with her baby: first, a mother giving her body over to her baby for the purpose of gestation and later on for nursing. The mother is giving from her physical self solely for the benefit of someone else. Her uterus exists only for the nurturance of a different human being. And really, the same can be said of her breasts. That whole system is there only to benefit someone who is not her. In fact, she might be healthier if those systems were removed, and many women can and do live a full life without ever using those systems.

The second situation would be lovers in an act of physical intimacy: a man effectively says “this is my body” to his bride, or a woman to her husband. Again it’s other-oriented for the most part: Take me; this is my body. I am yours.

And for the rest of the Mass, right through Communion, I was struck by the way Jesus had said that to us, the tender vulnerability of a man approaching his spouse or the concern of a mother feeding her baby. The chance of rejection. The openness to the needs of the other. The awkwardness of someone who loves someone else.

In “The Everyday,” Father Martin at Mount Savior Monastery says that every lover is awkward, and no lover is as awkward as God. 

For a moment there, I could feel that awkwardness, the “nakedness” of God before us, how God wants our souls naked before Him and divested of all the baffles we create to hide ourselves. How we, as lovers, feel ugly and unlovable and want to keep the lights off, but God wants to look at us with surprise and tenderness, and give everything and receive everything in return. This is my body — and this is yours.

It was all the more powerful when I realized that after Jesus said those words, the next day He said “this is my body” in one more way, and literally gave his body over and was killed. 

This is my body, given for you.

Growing a baby. Meeting as a lover. An exchange of persons (which is, in effect, a covenant).

Jesus said in John 6 that if we didn’t take and eat, there was no life in us, and was fully prepared to let all His disciples walk away from Him if they couldn’t do it. Clearly it was important for Him that we let that nakedness happen, that giving, that ultimate feeding. This is my body: my milk, my love, my blood, my life. All of them and at the same time none of them. God as our parent and our lover and our beloved and our rescuer.

After Communion, I found myself crying. I couldn’t have said why because there was too much. It was a little thing, no word in the sentence more than four letters long, and yet it was everything, every important relationship we ever wanted but contained fully in none of them.

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About philangelus

Mom, freelance writer, novelist, angelphile, Catholic, know-it-all.
This entry was posted in family, pensive, religion. Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to “This is my body”

  1. Johnna says:

    Wow, so beautiful and so true!

  2. ivyreisner says:

    That is beautiful.

  3. Melissa says:

    You worded that perfectly and it really struck a chord with me. Beautiful!

  4. Julie says:

    Kimberly Hahn mentions the sacrifice of her body which a mother gives for her husband and children. Good thoughts!
    Julie

  5. xdpaul says:

    Uhm, yeah – your choice on the public/private dilemma?

    Good call.

  6. Nina says:

    That is just so beautiful. Wow. I’m speechless… And you know me well enought to know that THAT is nearly impossible…

  7. twithhoney says:

    This is a beautiful reflection. Thank you for hitting the publish button and sharing it.

  8. Celina says:

    Awesome!! What a beautiful blog posting and what a beautiful epiphany.

    Celina T.

  9. Jenni says:

    … and that is why I read your blog.
    You touch so many lives in so many ways – thanks for being vulnerable with us.

  10. mamarosi says:

    oooo just tears of joy here, thank you so much! I am a mother of three, and my youngest is still nursing. I totally and emphatically just resonate with everything you said here and it just touched me deeply. Thank you.

  11. momatlarge says:

    I’m glad you decided to post this entry for others like myself to read. Very inspiring and very true. Your thoughts will help me a great deal in my prayers, especially before the Blessed Sacrament. Thank you!

  12. beautiful. thankyou.

  13. Wow, what an amazing insight. Thank you for this beautiful post.

  14. Kit says:

    That is indeed a very profound and moving post – thanks!

    (PS Mt. Saviour’s less than 30 minutes from me!)

  15. philangelus says:

    Thank you all for the supportive comments. I was so terrified about posting this. I figured for sure I’d get a few “Philangelus, you’re a lunatic” responses.

  16. knit_tgz says:

    No, I would never call you a lunatic for this. I would hug you and say “Thank God someone understands me”. I figured the “Eucharist similar to sex” part a while ago. In fact, I figured it almost as soon as I converted back to Catholicism, and so I NEEDED to receive His body. (I remember the pain I felt when once I could not go to Communion and had to stay in the pew when His body was being distributed). But I choose carefully the persons to whom I say this, for fear they hear this as blasphemous or disrespectful or crazy or perverted.

  17. Mrs. Who says:

    So very, very beautiful and moving. Thank you for sharing such a personal observation that has, for me, put into words what I have felt but could not explain.

  18. I love those moments when God whacks you with an insight. As a nursing mother myself I found this wonderfully resonant.

  19. K.H. says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It has given me something profound to meditate on.

  20. Judy says:

    What a beautiful reflection! I came to you via Melanie’s blog. This is something that has been on the edges of my consciousness throughout my current pregnancy (#6 :-)): these multiple layers of meaning to the words of consecration. Christopher West (Theology of the Body teacher) has a CD about Marriage and the Eucharist that echoes your connection that way. I appreciate your putting words to my feelings about motherhood.

  21. peteonthewater says:

    What a wonderful, risky, reflective appreciation of the sacrament of relationship. As a hubbie of Bernadette, mother of five and grandma of one; and as a Kiwi-Presbyterian cleric I’m deeply moved by your reflections.
    Will definitely follow your blog with interest, raucous applause and prayer

  22. philangelus says:

    Thank you, Pete, and welcome to the weblog! 🙂

  23. the Mom says:

    I had a similar Epiphany moment after my c-section with #2. As I laid there in pain (I had already done more than a day of labor before the surgery), I thought “this is my body broken for you.” Broken for love of a stranger, so that he may live.

  24. Megan says:

    I’m reading this really late, but I just wantd to say that this was an incredible post. Thank you for writing it.

  25. THAT was spectacularly written and expressed. I think I’ll be stalking your blog for awhile, hope you don’t mind 🙂

  26. This is an incredible post! All I can say is: WOW! I was rendered almost speechless 🙂

  27. Pingback: John 6:35 « Don't Hold Your Breath

  28. Tim Porterfield says:

    Philangelus,
    Pure beauty. That is all I can say. Possibly the best blog post I have ever read.
    (Thanks to Beonin for mentioning it in her blog).

    Tim

  29. Shannon McNear says:

    So beautiful, Jane … thank you for being transparent!! (and I’m so glad to have found you again!!!)

  30. celticadlx says:

    Wow. You really have a way of saying something, and what a something. I’m glad you decided to share this. It felt right. It felt human.

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