As we all have seen, physical power is an important part of Catholic history. St. Hyacinth is known as a patron of strength and has ties to Our Holy Mother. St. Christopher is another patron of strength that is associated, primarily, with carrying the Christ. St. Paul, the “Apostle to the Gentiles” also knew the importance of physical prowess and, more specifically, the body itself. In 1 Corinthians 6:19, he writes; “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” Paul had several reasons for writing this rhetorical question. In the 1st century, Christian Churches and Jewish Temples were not in abundance. Often, they were attacked by Roman authorities. Therefore, our bodies had to substitute as Temples or Churches.
However, as usual with Paul, he has layered in more meanings than simple practicality. He invokes the Holy Spirit. While some Biblical scholars tend to disagree, we will use the Holy Spirit in the same context as the Spirit of the Lord, found in the Old Testament. The key word is “Spirit”, which is “ruach” in Hebrew. In Greek it is “pneuma”. In both languages the meaning is the same; “breath, “wind”, or “spirit”. When used in association with God or the holiness of God it takes on a Divine aspect. It is a creative force which acts on Creation and accomplishes God’s will. This is the Spirit that hovers over the waters of chaos in Genesis 1:2. It is the Spirit which endowed Samson with invincible power (Judges 14:6, 19, 15:14). It is the Spirit which overshadowed Mary (Matthew 1:18, Luke 1:35). It is the Spirit, signified by the rushing wind, that appeared as tongues of fire on Pentecost (Acts 2:2-3). Paul knew this history well, as he was a Rabbi and tentmaker by trade. Therefore, he wanted to show the continuity of the Testaments and how this creative force was there in the beginning of life, the birth of the Messiah, and the birth of the Church.
He also wanted to show how this power could act on individual persons. Throughout the Bible, we see the Spirit coming upon individuals, sometimes calmly and sometimes violently, to perform actions that would, ordinarily, be beyond their capacities. Many scholars have pointed out that the mark of the Spirit was to inspire a person, usually a man, to move beyond his normal habits, attainments, and powers. This simply means that if the Holy Spirit is within our bodies, we can attain heights of which never dreamed.
The Catechism of the Church succinctly updates and comments on this important Pauline teaching.
797: "What the soul is to the human body, the Holy Spirit is to the Body of Christ, which is the Church. To this Spirit of Christ, as an invisible principle, is to be ascribed the fact that all the parts of the body are joined one with the other and with their exalted head; for the whole Spirit of Christ is in the head, the whole Spirit is in the body, and the whole Spirit is in each of the members. The Holy Spirit makes the Church "the temple of the living God":
Indeed, it is to the Church herself that the "Gift of God" has been entrusted.... In it is in her that communion with Christ has been deposited, that is to say: the Holy Spirit, the pledge of incorruptibility, the strengthening of our faith and the ladder of our ascent to God.... For where the Church is, there also is God's Spirit; where God's Spirit is, there is the Church and every grace.
798: The Holy Spirit is "the principle of every vital and truly saving action in each part of the Body. He works in many ways to build up the whole Body in charity: by God's Word "which is able to build you up: by Baptism, through which he forms Christ's Body; by the sacraments, which give growth and healing to Christ's members; by "the grace of the apostles, which holds first place among his gifts; by the virtues, which make us act according to what is good; finally, by the many special graces (called "charisms"), by which he makes the faithful fit and ready to undertake various tasks and offices for the renewal and building up of the Church."
799: Whether extraordinary or simple and humble, charisms are graces of the Holy Spirit which directly or indirectly benefit the Church, ordered as they are to her building up, to the good of men, and to the needs of the world.
800: Charisms are to be accepted with gratitude by the person who receives them and by all members of the Church as well. They are a wonderfully rich grace for the apostolic vitality and for the holiness of the entire Body of Christ, provided they really are genuine gifts of the Holy Spirit and are used in full conformity with authentic promptings of this same Spirit, that is, in keeping with charity, the true measure of all charisms.
801: It is in this sense that discernment of charisms is always necessary. No charism is exempt from being referred and submitted to the Church's shepherds. "Their office (is) not indeed to extinguish the Spirit, but to test all things and hold fast to what is good, so that all the diverse and complementary charisms work together "for the common good."
Therefore, the Holy Spirit comes to the Church, in her totality, and individuals, in moments of need. The Holy Spirit, if we allow it by a faithful response, can make each of us a vessel or conduit of the power of God.