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The Health-First Heresy

The health-first heresy seems to have broken out quite spontaneously with COVID itself. It required no heresiarch to cultivate it other than the human fear of suffering and death. Its tell-tale mark is the claim, implicit or explicit, that care for the body trumps care for the soul. A correlative feature, scarcely less visible, is the Rousseauian thesis that the body belongs to the state and is ruled by the state, which will decide for everyone what can and cannot be done in the body – even to the determination of the availability or unavailability of Christian sacraments.

Even in the Church, this deeply disordered anthropology and political philosophy has begun to supplant the truth, which is that the body ought to be ruled by the soul and the soul by God. Here care for the body, whether one’s own body or the body of one’s neighbor, should always have care of the soul as its proper end. It is inconceivable that the former care should be determined independently of the latter. What makes Christian charity Christian is not simply that it is done in love, but that it is done also for love. The body is loved for the sake of the soul, which exists to love and enjoy God. The body follows the soul to just that end. Hence “glorify God with your bodies” (1 Cor. 6:20) is the rule of thumb, both in life and in death. It is also a rule of the Mass and of all the sacraments, by means of which the soul communes with its Lord in and through the body.

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