People often talk about body and soul as if they were two completely separate and independent constructs, and that faith resides within the purview of the latter rather than the former. Perhaps for some it does; but not for Catholics. The Catholic faith involves the participation of the whole person, body, mind, and soul.
Accordingly, we worship with all five senses. We receive the sacraments bodily as well as spiritually: the taste of the bread and wine; the sweet aromas of chrism and incense; the balm-like comfort of holy oil. We celebrate the Mass with music that can be felt as well as heard. We even engage our proprioception—the elusive sixth sense that informs us of the location of our bodies in space—when we stand, kneel, bow our heads, and make the sign of the cross.
In this way, Catholicism is very much a three-dimensional faith. So, I wonder, how does this full-bodied, immersive experience fit into our two-dimensional world? I’m thinking about our young people—the very people that I and my fellow catechists struggle to keep involved in our faith. So much of their lives are lived as observers engaging the world remotely via the screens of their laptops, ipads, and cell phones. In other words, their realities in many ways are confined to two dimensions that engage only one or perhaps two higher order senses.
I’m not criticizing modernity and its technological advances. Rather, I’m merely making an observation. As parents who introduce their children to the faith through the informal setting of the domestic church and catechists who reinforce the faith more formally in the parochial setting, I think we need to be aware of this intergenerational discrepancy in how individuals interact with the world. It’s a conundrum that I’m afraid I can’t offer any insight into solving. I trust the Holy Spirit will help us, though, if we put in a little time, patience, and prayer.