Day 17: Whole-Hearted Man
Editor’s Note: TOB is the abbreviation for Pope St. John Paul II’s book “Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body” Pauline Press
I don’t like difficult emotions. They conflict me and I usually try to resolve that conflict by minimizing my feelings. Not helpful. I get stuck in a vague uneasiness.
But the Incarnation is dynamic. Jesus assumed our whole beings: body, soul and spirit. We are bodies who think, act & feel. Jesus feels with human emotions, He loves with a whole-heart. His Incarnation is a door to my emotional integration.
When a difficult emotion arises in me, I turn inward. I’ve learned to contain hard things interiorly. My immediate response is to detach and ‘cheerfully’ to disregard any conflictual obstacle. It can leave me frustrated and resentful. Jesus is teaching me how to be known in my emotions. I need courage and am discovering a new integrity in conveying hard stuff encased in these emotions. And I am finding trustworthy friends who can hear me out and love me!
Another area involves lust. Unchecked emotions drive some of this unfriendly fire. As I become known before I check out into fantasyland, I now offer some of this emotional ‘stuff’ to friends. This breaks lust’s power, frees me before I sin, and becomes opportunity for Divine Mercy. I can feel my emotions before Jesus and friends. He bears their complexities. Even as I experience pain and conflict in the light, His Real Presence secures me in love.
Prudence and buoyance in emotional conflict can be helpful. This was surely the way of my priestly formation. However, my ‘control’ became a deadening emotional containment. I needed Jesus to take me deeper; I needed real integration. I was tired of sitting on uneasy emotions I couldn’t describe.
In the spirit of Pope St. John Paul II, I want emotional integrity because loved ones need to know me. Others benefit from my self-expression. I’ve been given a duty. I have a responsibility to integrate my emotions. John Paul II says that God ‘assigned to [man]…his own humanity as a task’ (TOB 59:2).
However, emotions at times need to go unexpressed; we can employ the gift of reason to check them. ‘Self-determination and self-governance…require on occasion, that one act in the name of “naked” truth about the good, in the name of values that are not felt. At times this even requires that one act against the perceptions of the moment’ (Karol Woytyla, Person and Act, p. 339). John Paul positions all emotions at the submission of true value. He urges us to take responsibility for our emotions, and to submit them under the faculty of our God-given reason. This is Kingdom!
‘Jesus, rouse the gift we are. Help us to attend to the treasure you summon from the trash. Free us from our constant faultfinding and free us for vestiges of paradise in our memories and in our lives today. We refuse the liar who tries to rewrite Eden out of our histories. Unite us to the home of our original dignity.’
‘Jesus, have mercy on us as Your Church. We have abused weaker members, including children, and protected ourselves. We have violated the most vulnerable. In Your mercy, free us to superabound with justice. Grant us Kingdom discernment and courage to reform ourselves. May our repentance grant us Kingdom authority to strengthen the weak, discipline violators, and restore the violated.’