The evil the Church must fight against today is one She has seen before, just not quite this prevalent. And it will be a very tough demon to vanquish because it is now so entrenched it has come to be viewed by a majority of the world as normal. It is the belief of the old Gnostics of the early days of the Church called dualism.
Dualism presented an untruthful version of the relationship between body and soul. It held forth that the body was not really important — even that it was kind of a prison for the soul or the spirit that the soul had to try and free itself from. Of course, this thinking means that the body has no special significance and that the soul, the interior, is all that matters. So what a person does with his body is of little importance — all that matters is that the interior life is well-intentioned, that the appropriate feelings are present. Actions with the body are of little consequence since all matters in the interior disposition.
It isn’t hard to see how quickly that view can lead to a collapse of civilization. If the body doesn't really matter, then there isn’t anything wrong with contraception, for example. Certainly pre-marital sex can't be regarded as altogether serious either. Divorce and re-marriage, after all, is nothing other than two souls admitting that their bodies can no longer live in the same space and for the next period of their lives are better suited to dwell with someone else with whom they interiorly feel more connected.
This naturally encompasses the whole gravely evil idea of sodomy being viewed as a legitimate form of marriage. Why not? If the body is only secondary and feelings of the interior are what really matter, then what’s the big deal?
With this line of thinking, abortion is perfectly acceptable, because what mother would want her child growing up in a poor household or unloving home? Better to free the child's soul now than subject her to a life of being trapped in the body in poverty or a place where her soul will feel unloved. In this line of thought, abortion actually becomes a good. In fact, many pro-aborts, Catholics among them, actually do follow this line of reasoning. It’s exactly why 90 percent of Down Syndrome babies are killed in the womb.
But the Catholic Church says, "NO!" The body does have worth. The material is important. Matter does matter.
We humans are not just a soul trapped in a body, as though our humanity only existed in a spiritual way, temporarily located in a body. We are not angels. Angels were created as spirits without bodies. We are a union of body and soul. Our bodies are integral to who we are, what we are. We are ensouled flesh.
It is a most sublime truth that on the Last Day, these bodies of ours, this part of who we are, will rise from the dead and be joined once again to our souls now perfected, and so be glorified. We will have bodies like the Son of God now has a body, and they will be resplendent with His glory.
But this will not be the case for those who reject this truth. They will again experience existence in the body, but it will not be life. Rather, it will be unending death — a perpetual state of horror in the body — because as much as the damned may have been denied the essence of who they were in this life, they will have no freedom to deny it in the next. There they will be faced with the explicit truth that they are a composite of body and soul, and they will feel in their members, in every nerve ending, that single truth. They will pay for their sins of the flesh, in the flesh, for having denied the importance of the flesh.
A bishop once said to me that he had a difficult time understanding why people would be tortured in Hell. Why would they have to undergo physical sufferings in the body? What would be the point, he asked, if the real pain of Hell was the loss of God?
It is a dangerous type of thinking because it demonstrates a lack of the full understanding of the reality of the human essence. Would it make sense that a human being in Hell would undergo only emotional, psychological torment? What would the body of the damned be experiencing if such were the case? Would it be authentic justice that the body should escape punishment for the sins it had been used to commit grievous offenses against God? Would the body of the damned be experiencing a sort of neutrality in Hell, not really present to the agony of the soul?
That would be a kind of supernatural dualism, a disconnect between body and soul for all eternity. If that were the case, what would be the point of the body of the damned even being reunited to the soul? If it doesn't undergo the justice it deserves, then it has no purpose.
And what would that say of the bodies of the saved, of the elect? Why should their bodies enjoy the bliss of Heaven if all that matters is the soul? After all, in this line of reasoning, if the only pain of Hell is the loss of God, which is felt in the soul, why shouldn’t the only joy of Heaven be the presence of God, which is likewise felt in the soul?
The reason is because we are not just souls, spirits. We were created as body-soul composites. That union is who we are. It defines us. It was the reason that the Second Person of the Holy Trinity incarnated, took on flesh, because we needed saving body and soul. And if one is not saved, body and soul, then one is damned, body as well as soul.
There are in the Church today too many who fail to understand this foundational truth of the Faith, and as a result, they are able to excuse all kinds of sin and evil and malfeasance — all under the influence of a great heresy which has come back with a vengeance, that must be fought with an even greater vengeance.
Catholicism — the Faith — is so pure that even the slightest imperfection mars Her beauty beyond telling, disfigures Her. We must fight for Her beauty.