WCR PHOTO | CHRIS MILLER
Author Katrina Zeno told an Edmonton audience their bodies will be perfected in heaven.
If you want to know what heaven is like, look to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Mary is "body and soul united with God forever in heaven," says Katrina Zeno, a mother and author.
Mary, who was conceived without sin and who now has obtained the fullness of salvation, "is the perfect example, the icon and image of the Church," Zeno told an Edmonton conference on the theology of the body.
Catholics, she said, should pay greater attention to the Church's belief in the resurrection of the body.
"Your body has an eternal relationship with your soul," she said.
"It will be perfected in heaven, not discarded. Every life is sacred and we hear that all the time, but every body is also sacred.
"That means get used to your body because it will be with you for all eternity."
Zeno spoke at the Couples for Christ Gift of Life Ministry conference, held Nov. 24 at St. Theresa's Church. More than 150 people attended.
Coordinator of the John Paul II Resource Centre in Phoenix, Ariz., Zeno gave four talks on the theme, In His Divine Image: Theology of the Body and the Family.
Her talks were based on theology of the body, a compilation of 133 Wednesday audience talks that Pope John Paul II gave from September 1979 to November 1984.
A single mother, Zeno is the author of three books: Discovering the Feminine Genius, The Body Reveals God and When Life Doesn't Go Your Way. She specializes in the single life, chastity formation, marriage and the Eucharist, and passing on the faith.
"Theology is the study of God, but we cannot study God directly," she said. "We can only study God by how he reveals himself. As a term, 'theology of the body' means a study of how God reveals himself through the human body."
In another talk, Zeno said that because Mary is the Immaculate Conception – she was conceived without original sin – God is able, through Mary, to show the world what life was like before original sin.
The Immaculate Conception is not about the greatness of Mary, but the greatness of God. She received from God an unmerited gift.
"When you wake up in the morning, it should make a difference that Mary was conceived without original sin because Mary shows us what God wants to do for us," Zeno said.
"She shows us the invisible by making it visible. If we are full of grace, then we can be like Mary."
Not unlike a rainbow, Mary depicts what is normally hidden from view. Light is composed of a spectrum of colours, but the human eye cannot see those colours. Only when a rainbow arches across the sky are the colours perceptible.
"Likewise, even though we know that Jesus' death upon the cross forgives sin and heals our relationship with God, we see the fullness of this truth when we gaze across the beauty of Mary arching across history," said Zeno.
The sacraments, she said, bring us God's divine light and enable us to live in union and communion with God, others, nature and ourselves.
In a talk for teenagers, Zeno said the purpose of one's body is to be a gift, that sin and redemption affects that gift and that bodies' ultimate purpose is to live forever in heaven.
One's body is a living tabernacle, and the presence of God is revealed in everything we do, she said.
"If you're at home with your kids or your grandchildren, it should make a difference because the presence of God is fixing their lunches or teaching them the multiplication tables or showing them how to live a life of chastity or building a snowman with them.
"These things should make a difference because, through you, the presence of God is entering their home," she said.