Friday, September 10, 2010

Utility, the Antithesis of Divine Worship

This summer the Archdiocese of New Orleans held a Theology on Tap series at the guest area of a local brewery.  One of the talks, given by Fr. Bryce Sibley, a priest of the Diocese of Lafayette, held the name, "Why Does the Church Make Such a Big Deal About Sex?"  With such a title, the talk seemed to be a very intriguing topic.  Fr. Sibley's main point was this: the human and along with it, human sexuality, is connected, at its roots, to divine worship.  The Church makes such a big deal about sex precisely because it relates to divine worship.  Not just in Catholicism but in ancient Judaism (look at the laws in Leviticus) as well as ancient pagan religion, sex is connected with worship.  All this connects through the concept of imago Dei.  Man is made in the image and likeness of God, not just his his soul but in his body.

Karol Wojtyla (JP II), in his early work, Love and Responsibility, spoke about the human body.  He saw in lust and especially in pornography the antithesis of the meaning and depth of human love and the human body (He takes these thoughts and expands on their Biblical roots in his opus magnus, Man and Woman He Created Them: The Theology of the Body.)  He spoke of this antithetical action as utilitarian (in the philosophical sense of John Stuart Mill and co.).  The body, or someone else's body, is not something to be used and them discarded when it no longer provides pleasure.  It is something to be regarded and honored for its own sake.  In TOB, John Paul II would specifically say that it is precisely because we are made in God's image that the human person, body and soul, is an in himself/herself.  Again, we connect the human body with honor of God.  When one honors the human body, as a divine image, he/she worships God for such a great gift.

This though came into my mind when Pieper wrote this,"[Divine worship/sacrifice] definitely does not involve utility; it is in face antithetic to utility."  Worship is the epitome of superfluity.  It goes beyond what is the assumed norm and flows into utter foolishness.  It is as necessary as a bolt or a screw, but it is a bolt or screw made of pure gold and plated in platinum.  Such is the nature of divine worship, to which the human body points.  This is why we have extravagant places of worship and ornate vestments and complicated and beautifully worded rituals.  Divine worship is not utilitarian it is utterly foolish and superfluous.  Praise be to God!

A reflection on Chapter V of Leisure: The Basis of Culture

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