Suggested reading


Nuria Calduch-Benages, MN

In 1990 Father Luis Alonso Schökel, a master of generations of scripture scholars, published a beautiful book in Spanish, El Cantar de los Cantares o la dignidad del amor (The Song of Songs or the dignity of love). Besides providing his translation of this Hebrew text together with a unique commentary, this book also contains beautiful late-Gothic illustrations drawn from the Historia et prophetia vitae Beatae Mariae Virginis ex Canticu Canticorum, which probably originated in a Flemish Monastery around 1465-1470.

Regarding the theme of “body and spirit”, this renowned biblical scholar and poet writes: “The Love of the Canticle is not a platonic love of two pure spirits or of those which are purified by detachment from the body. Neither is it a question of carnal desires. The Love of the Canticle has an intense bodily realism, because it is in the body that the spirit is revealed. Genesis speaks of the formation of one sole flesh. That is to say, in the union of the flesh there must be realized also the union of spirits. These two things are made very clear in the Canticle.” The contemplation of the human body, beautiful and pleasing to behold, brings us closer to the contemplation of Beauty with a capital letter, that Beauty of a spiritual nature that unfortunately our society today does not want to recognize.

It is for this reason that I suggest a few hours spent in a peaceful and meditative reading of The Song of Songs. This will help us to not be afraid of our body and its beauty because within the perspective of biblical anthropology the body is the person and considered as a being in relation to others. Every encounter with another person is possible thanks to the body that I am as it enables me to be made visible for the other and for the other to be seen by me; thanks to my body I can enter into contact with that which is around me.

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