Forgive me if I've posted on this before, Heorhij...
Not a problem, thank you so much for replying.
I've read some prayers like what you mention here and have wondered about it myself; it seems very gnostic-sounding. But I think the necessary caveat to all of this is that the body isn't bad...it's just the battlefield.
Put it this way: our bodies have been polluted through the fall and will only be redeemed at the resurrection.
Were they really "polluted?" I understand that it's one of our Orthodox dogmats that after the Fall, our bodies and souls, our entire beings became separated from God (His "energies," His Grace). Because of that, they became MORTAL
- i.e. rather than being sustained endlessly by the Divine energies, they became demanding the natural sustenance (nutrients, physical and psychological pleasure etc.). However, correct me if I am wrong, but there are no reasons to think that something in our bodies per se - their molecular, cellular, tissue, organ buildup - changed in any way after the Fall. Chist was born as a 100% human being, but the Fathers insist that his humanity was coming from the Theotokos, i.e. He from the moment of His conception had the same DNA, the same genetic code, the same developmental programs, the same homeostasis etc. that we have. His humanity was as "injured" as our humanity is, in that He hungered, thirsted, suffered from pain, and had very human emotions. Yet, it became immortal because He completely subjugated His human will to the Divine will, and so the "injury" was healed by the divine energies, and death could not keep Him - so He rose from His tomb; and He rose in the very same material, physical, molecular-cellular-tissue-organ human body, and He ascended into heaven in this same body also. Is this correct? But then, if the answer is yes, how come He does not have a particular location right now, and how come He is bodily present in the Eucharist? That's what I do not understand and that's where gnostics will always beat me...
Yet...we still discipline our bodies in an attempt to "renew our inner man day by day," even as our outer man -- which we are using as a vehicle to renew the inner man now and which will one day itself participate in said renewal as well if it is indeed sown to incorruption through virtuous renewal of the soul -- is passing away.
Does "passing away" mean disappearing? You see, that's, again, where I see a certain dead end. On the one hand, Christ's human material body did not disappear - He, according to the patristic thought, rose in the same body in which He suffered. Yet, when this body began to ascend, it resisted the force of gravity; and afterwards, like right now, this body, as it is sometimes said, "transcended space and time," became something totally mysterious and undescribable, something that, for example, is "always divided and never exhausted," is present fully (not "by pieces" or "slices") in every single chalice in thousands of parishes during the Eucharist, and so on. So it's NOT quite like our bodies. Then, in some patristic writings - notably, in the Homily on the Holy Easter by St. Gregory of Nyssa - one can see thoughts that the material
of our bodies, the "powder," the ultimate product of bodily corruption that is contained in coffins, will not disappear, but will one day be forming, again, the bodies of the resurrected humans. Yet, this same St. Gregory of Nyssa in his another work - the dialogue with St. Macrina - points out that we leave EVERYTHING
earthly here, on earth, and that nothing that we have right now shall we have after the resurrection...
It's important to remember that when we say that Christ's body was "spiritual" that we are not saying that it was ethereal or immaterial. Christ could pass through doors, yes, but St. Thomas could still touch him. Why? Because the body had been renewed and purified of the Fall's effects. This is an important distinction: we do not long for the evil, stinking body's eventual dissolution into nothingness and await the pure, platonic existence of the ether. Rather, we acknowledge the corruption present in the flesh, even as we USE the flesh to practice virtue and purify our nous. Once this is done throughout our lives, the body is sown in corruption to one day be reaped in incorruption.
Well, my gnostic opponent argues that this episode of touching the body by the apostle Thomas was merely a teaching tool, something that urged the doubting man to believe that Christ really rose from the dead, that it was not an illusion. And yes, he goes on to say, indeed, we DO
long for the material body's total dissolution into nothingness and we DO
await the pure, platonic, immaterial, asubstantial body to be given to us after the resurrection. These new bodies will have no outward appearance, and no dimensions - JUST LIKE CHRIST'S BODY AT PRESENT, AFTER HIS RESURRECTION, HAS NO OUTWARD APPEARANCE AND DIMENSIONS
(indeed, we do not see His fingernails in the Eucharist, do we?). This "glorified" post-resurrection body IS what the body of the human SHOULD be - limitless, endless in both space and time, and eternal, infinite.
As far as "using the flesh" goes - this would probably be my opponent's biggest pet peeve. Such expressions inevitably cause his fury because he views them as "attempts to justify sin." Everything bodily is sinful, in his view. Especially something that is associated with feelings of physical pleasure. We have to hate it all. That's what 1 John 2:15, 16 means. The "earth" (i.e. the entire material universe) is cursed. The matter is the quintessential expression of this curse (God created purely spiritual earth, stars, planets, and humans, and all that "acquired the disgusting materiality" as Adam and Eve sinned). Our bodily sensations are, in turn, the quintessential expression of this "disgusting matter." Whenever we "use flesh" - we are Satan's fellow workers. All our existence, all our doings must be completely spiritual.
The "did not care at all about the body, which is temporal, but cared about the soul, which is immortal" quotes refer not to a hatred of the tangible, but of the realities of this fallen world -- the tangible loved for its own sake, as it were. The saints realized that there were realities out there that were at odds with fallen creation; upon adopting the Lord's spiritual (read: NOT intangible) way of living, the body becomes a battleground wherein we become -- even in our still-fallen bodies and even -- even! -- as yet-fallen corpses -- temples of the Holy Spirit and eventual "seeds of immortality."
My opponent would not even listen to your explanation, unfortunately. When I tried to make explanations of a similar sort, he only wrote that I was, as is my permanent habit and custom, wickedly twisting the sacred words of Scripture, Fathers and "lex orandi." Whenever I say something like "yes, but..." - he gets absolutely furious and says that in this "yes, but" is all of my disgusting persona of the faithful, cheap servant of the Antichrist.