These Beautiful Bones ~ By Emily Stimpson

I received Emily’s book in the mail back in October and I have been slowly making my way through it.  The reason it took me a while to get through it is because it is a book to be savored and meditated upon.  Plus, it took me a while to expand my understanding of the Theology of The Body, as the back cover says, “to beyond the bedroom.’

Ohhh, I Get It!

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“Emily reveals layers of depth and richness that many of us never knew were there.”

Jen Fulwiler

I have been reading about Blessed Pope John Paul II”s Theology of The Body (T.O.B) for quite some time but to be honest, I was never able to understand it beyond a certain level.  I knew it went deep but I was only able to comprehend it in a limited way. 

Why?  Because our beloved soon-to-be-a-Saint Pope was so holy and brilliant.  His experience (Poland ~ wow), prayer life, education and understanding of our anthropology formed him into this holy man and allowed him to peer into this mystery and deliver it to us as a gift at the right time. And, wow did we need it!

So, let’s say the depth of T.O.B is a 10.  Before reading Emily’s book, I probably had reached maybe a 3, at best.  Now, I might be a 6.  This is quite an improvement considering my limited experience, my lackluster prayer life, my unrelated education and zero insight into anthropology. 

But, Emily breaks it all down for us! She, being as smart as she is, brilliantly makes his teachings accessible and applicable to us all. Even she admits that his T.O.B. teachings are ‘profound and complex’ and difficult for her to understand.  Whew, I thought it was just me!  But, her book left me saying, “Ohhh, I get it!”

Beyond The Bedroom

T.O.B is an anthropology not a sexology.” 

Emily Stimpson

The subtitle of her book is “An Everyday Theology of The Body.”  Emily shows us how to apply the T.O.B everyday, everywhere and in everything we do.  She shows us that T.O.B was “never intended to be ‘just’ about sex.” 

As the back of the book says, T.O.B. teaches us about “everyday moments in life, helping you discover how to let grace enter into those moments and make them something extraordinary.”

This is good news for everyone but especially for singles!  As a single, young Catholic herself, Emily gives all of us (married and unmarried), as Scott Hahn said, “graceful guidance in living out the physical side of being spiritual.”

What Makes Us Beautiful?

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“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks into the heart.”

 1 Samuel 16:7

Emily opens the book with a description of the Capuchin Bone Church in Rome, Italy.  I was not sure what this had to do with being beautiful but after I ‘got it’ I realized it was a superb analogy and fitting introduction.

She then goes into the history of our culture of Modernism and how it has confused us into thinking that ‘only that which is measurable is real’ and that we (rather than God) are the center of the universe.  She explains why Humanae Vitae was not well received at first but how 45 years later it can clearly be described as prophetic.

As Emily describes, “When the body is seen as mere matter, anything goes…The body, however, isn’t mere matter…..man is a union of body and soul…” 

Emily connects the dots between these beautiful bones of ours and our souls. The body “expresses the person…It reveals the living soul…making visible the invisible.”   She explains to us how our longings to know ourselves, God and Truth are common struggles and that yes, we can in fact obtain this knowledge. She explains how “our bodies reveal God to the world.”

Emily shows us how aSacramental world view” is the answer to attaining this knowledge and to healing that which ails us.  A Sacramental life imparts grace to us and makes visible to us the invisible.  It is our grace-filled souls that make us beautiful and holy….even the most plain and imperfect ‘body’ which does not measure up to our crazy Modernistic world…..is made beautiful through this supernatural power (superabundance) available to all of us.

A Sacramental World View

…matter is a vehicle for grace.”  Emily Stimpson

The Sacraments of the Church are the most powerful vehicles for grace but we can also tap into grace in every moment. Emily shows us the way and explains exactly what a Sacramental world view is.  I cannot do it justice without sharing the entirety of the book with you.  Emily weaves her wisdom throughout the book describing how grace is available to us when we work, play, serve, host, eat and do laundry.

My Favorite Chapters

Chapter 7 and 9 were my favorite chapters!  Chapter 7 is about the gift of food.  It is both convicting (are you a picky eater like me?) and balanced (gluttony, fasting, temperance, gratitude).  I think she is trying to say that the way we eat is a reflection of how we make love and show love…..  Do we rush?  Are we mindful and attentive?  Are we disordered in any way?  Selfish? Okay, moving on to Chapter 9!

I was reading Chapter 9 during Eucharistic Adoration and I found myself jotting down ten changes I need to make in my life in order to reduce the distractions in my life and increase my attentiveness and receptivity.  I also knelt at the altar and thanked God for Emily. Oh so convicting in so many good ways!

Earlier in the book she discusses receptivity and how it “requires more of us than just practicing hospitality. It also requires we Practice Attentiveness. That means looking into people’s eyes when they speak to us, paying heed to what their gestures and facial expressions communicate, and listening carefully to all they say.” As my friend Carolyn says, “it is important to be intentional.

The Cover

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When the book arrived I sent Emily a note letting her know that the cover is absolutely gorgeous.  You have to feel this book!  Sure you can get the Kindle version but I recommend the soft cover version!  You will marvel over its beauty, its softness, the chosen colors, the portrait and the embossed letters.  Really, I am not exaggerating! You will also want to highlight the best parts within the book to reflect back upon later.

Emily

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Everyone knows how I feel about Emily. She is lovely in her every word and gesture.  Her writings are brilliant and inspiring.  I am constantly spotlighting her in my 7QTs.  You can read more of her good stuff here and here and here. You can buy her book, These Beautiful Bones through Amazon as well as her other book, The Catholic Girl’s Survival Guide for the Single Years: The Nuts and Bolts of Staying Sane and Happy While Waiting for Mr. Right.  And, you can become her facebook friend.  Even I, a big nobody, am her friend! 

Have you read her book?  If so, what was your favorite part?  What impact did it have on you? 

God love and bless your beautiful bones!

p.s.s. Check out all my posts listed by category here!

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