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Made in God's Image View Comments
By Kate Wicker

Many people obsess over their bodies, while others don’t take their health into account at all. Find middle ground. Recognize that your body is a gift and treat it with respect.
A FRIEND OF MINE told me recently that her sister exercises for one reason only: she knows her body is a gift from God, and she wants to show her gratitude by taking care of it. Sounds simple enough, right? But how many of us view our bodies, as well as how we treat them, with God in mind?

When I was in the grips of my eating disorder, I exercised compulsively, not because I desired health or wished to honor God, but only because I wanted to be thinner. Eating was not about fueling my body. It was about control. Micromanaging how much or how little I ate made me feel more powerful. I couldn’t make others love me, but I could make myself thinner.

It took several years of treatment and a lot of prayer for me to break free from disordered eating and a poor body image. Thankfully, nowadays when I break a sweat or reach for whole grains and veggies instead of processed food, it’s because I want to show appreciation for the body with which God has blessed me.

I also want to be healthy and strong so I’m better equipped to carry out God’s will for me, which, as a mother, includes the often exhausting work of taking care of four small and energetic children. My husband exercises and eats well so he has the stamina to work long hours to provide for our growing family.

We exercise and eat properly because that’s what we need to do to live healthy lives. But not everybody shares this kind of lifestyle.

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Kate Wicker is a wife, mother of four, freelance writer, and author of Weightless: Making Peace with Your Body (Servant Books). Learn more about her at katewicker.com.

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Jacopone da Todi: Jacomo, or James, was born a noble member of the Benedetti family in the northern Italian city of Todi. He became a successful lawyer and married a pious, generous lady named Vanna. 
<p>His young wife took it upon herself to do penance for the worldly excesses of her husband. One day Vanna, at the insistence of Jacomo, attended a public tournament. She was sitting in the stands with the other noble ladies when the stands collapsed. Vanna was killed. Her shaken husband was even more disturbed when he realized that the penitential girdle she wore was for his sinfulness. On the spot, he vowed to radically change his life. </p><p>He divided his possessions among the poor and entered the Secular Franciscan Order (once known as the Third Order). Often dressed in penitential rags, he was mocked as a fool and called Jacopone, or "Crazy Jim," by his former associates. The name became dear to him. </p><p>After 10 years of such humiliation, Jacopone asked to be a member of the Order of Friars Minor(First Order). Because of his reputation, his request was initially refused. He composed a beautiful poem on the vanities of the world, an act that eventually led to his admission into the Order in 1278. He continued to lead a life of strict penance, declining to be ordained a priest. Meanwhile he was writing popular hymns in the vernacular. </p><p>Jacopone suddenly found himself a leader in a disturbing religious movement among the Franciscans. The Spirituals, as they were called, wanted a return to the strict poverty of Francis. They had on their side two cardinals of the Church and Pope Celestine V. These two cardinals, though, opposed Celestine’s successor, Boniface VIII. At the age of 68, Jacopone was excommunicated and imprisoned. Although he acknowledged his mistake, Jacopone was not absolved and released until Benedict XI became pope five years later. He had accepted his imprisonment as penance. He spent the final three years of his life more spiritual than ever, weeping "because Love is not loved." During this time he wrote the famous Latin hymn, <i>Stabat Mater</i>. </p><p>On Christmas Eve in 1306 Jacopone felt that his end was near. He was in a convent of the Poor Clares with his friend, Blessed John of La Verna. Like Francis, Jacopone welcomed "Sister Death" with one of his favorite songs. It is said that he finished the song and died as the priest intoned the Gloria from the midnight Mass at Christmas. From the time of his death, Brother Jacopone has been venerated as a saint.</p> American Catholic Blog By immersing our lives in the rhythm of the season, charity can flood our souls and fill us with the happiness for which we were created. We awake Christmas morning prepared to celebrate the birth of our Savior not as a memory but as a profound experience of God’s redemptive love.

 
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