We need to realize more seriously that more than feeding our body, we actually need to feed our soul which, being the principle of our life, is more important than the body. We are not just a biological being, like the plants and animals. We are human beings, persons with a rational nature and animated by a spiritual soul.
In fact, if we have to consider our Christian faith regarding our human condition, there are times when we need to starve the body in order to nourish the soul. That is because we have lost the original integrity where the body and soul are in complete harmony.
Due to our sin, there is already some conflict between these two constitutive parts of our nature, and we have to give priority to the soul over the body since the soul is what gives us life.
Anent this point, Christ said when talking about him as the bread of life, a teaching that even his disciples found hard to accept, that “the Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing…” (Jn 6, 63)
We have to understand that feeding our spiritual soul involves connecting it directly with the Spirit of God from whom it comes and from whom it has its source of life.
This means that we should really have an encounter with God through Christ in the Holy Spirit. It is an encounter that can take place through our prayer, the reception of the sacraments, the performance of ascetical struggle to develop virtues and fight against temptations and sin, and the whole range of sanctification with its necessary complement of doing apostolate. This is how we feed our soul.
I wonder if many people realize this. We need to spread this good news as widely as possible and teach people concrete ways of feeding the soul. There indeed are countless ways of feeding the soul.
I believe that in the first place people have to be made aware of the existence of their spiritual soul. They need to be convinced of it and understand its nature, its origin and end, so that the appropriate attitude and skills regarding our duty to feed the soul can be developed. At the moment, such awareness and understanding of our spiritual soul is, I am afraid, generally lacking.
Many of us need to realize that our capacity to know and to love are indications that we have the spiritual faculties of the intellect and will that in their turn prove to us that our soul, our life principle, is not just biological, but spiritual.
As such, our soul needs to be vitally connected with the Spirit of God from whom it comes and on whom its proper condition depends. Our spiritual soul should not just get its nourishment from other spirits, like the spirit of the flesh, the world and much less, the devil.
These latter spirits should also be known by us, so that we would know how to deal with them, since they will always be around, competing with the Spirit of God. In this regard, St. Paul once said something relevant, especially in the contrast between the flesh and the Spirit. It might be worthwhile to remit the pertinent passage.
“Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh…The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy, drunkenness, orgies, and the like…
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh and with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit…” (Gal 5, 16-25)
Fr. Roy Cimagala is the Chaplain of the Center for Industrial Technology and Enterprise, Talamban, Cebu City (firstname.lastname@example.org)/WDJ