“A glutton is one who raids the icebox for a cure for spiritual malnutrition.” ~ Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking
The trouble with gluttony is that it reduces eating to an exercise in gratifying my own desires for physical pleasures, consuming whatever I think will make me full and satisfied. (p. 141)
Glutttony’s excessive pursuit of the pleasures of the table eventually dulls our appreciation for the food we eat, the pleasure we may take in eating it, those with whom we eat, and the God who created what we eat and gave us the ability to take pleasure in it. (p. 141)
What and how much we eat makes no difference whatsoever when it comes to virtue, as long as we are eating in a way that is appropriate to our health, the people we live with, and our vocation. (p. 150)
Questions for Reflection
What is my attitude toward food?
How much time, money and energy do I spend planning and preparing to eat?
How does food connect me to or distance me from God and other people?
Do I pray at mealtimes?
How difficult would it be for me to give up certain food habits and pleasures for a time?
Three considerations for our eating:
1. Are we eating in a way that contributes to or at least maintains our overall health and well-being?
2. Is our desire to eat what gives us pleasure taking precedence over the good of others with whom we are eating? Is our own pleasure-seeking getting in the way of enjoying being together with others at the table?
3. Given what God has asked of us to be and do, is our eating a daily discipline ordered to equipping ourselves to live up that identity and carry out that mission?
In what ways does gluttony constitute a sin against the larger society?
Practices to Resist Gluttony and Cultivate Fasting
Ground Yourself in Good News
Psalm 104:1-4, 10-30
Raise Your Awareness
- Keep a food journal and evaluate your food and meals in light of the questions above.
- Prepare your own food.
From where does your food come?
How does prepared food taste different from fresh ingredients?
With whom could you prepare a meal? Who could you teach to cook?
What cooking traditions could you pass along?
- Eat slowly and mindfully.
How does the food taste? What do you notice about its flavor and texture?
How much is enough to enjoy a bite of food? How much do you need to feel full?
- Eat together – Sit down at a table with others and share a meal.
What pleasure do you notice as you share a meal? How does the food taste?
What do you learn about those with whom you share the meal?
What makes the time together sacred?
- Thank God for the gift of food and community when you eat.
- Research a global aspect of food, such as production and distribution.
What do you learn about others’ access to quality food?
How can you incorporate food justice into your personal vocation to love and serve God and others?
Experiment with Fasting
- Give up or do without a habitual part of your food routine for period of time.
What do you notice about how you feel and function without this food pleasure?
How does fasting help you appreciate God’s good gifts of food and community?
- Commit to a regular discipline of fasting.
Pick one day a week or month to fast for spiritual formation or engage a global cause.
Use time normally spent on food preparation and consumption to pray and connect with God and others.
Try observing Meatless Mondays (or whatever day works for your schedule) and learn about how meat production and consumption effects our bodies and global economy.
Donate time and money saved to organizations working to alleviate hunger.