They called it the MEATBALL DEATH STAR: 5 pounds of ground beef wrapped around a mixture of cheese tortellinis, sautéed sweet peppers and onions; a fluffy cloud of garlic mashed potatoes; a woven cloak of bacon, spaghetti sauce and grated cheese. Six teenagers gathered at my house and cooked the thing for a Saturday afternoon snack.
The astonishing thing to me was the speed with which they ate, and the fact that none of it was left!
Ahh, gluttony…. Is it really a deadly sin?
Maybe it’s easier to see gluttony as evil when there’s not enough to go around. But feasting has become an American pastime, only matched by our obsession with dieting – and where would one be without the other? Abundance has become less a cause for thanksgiving as a challenge to consume as much as possible.
Week 6: Psalm 130 — “From the sin of gluttony, O Lord, deliver me…”
The Church Fathers recognized that gluttony—which can be defined as the habitual, inordinate consumption of food or other worldly goods—is far from the innocent indulgence it might seem. St. Thomas Aquinas (drawing on St. Gregory the Great) listed five different ways to be gluttonous, a list which could form the basis of an examination of conscience:
- Eating food that is too extravagant, exotic, or expensive
- Eating too much food
- Eating food that is too elaborately prepared – making sure you eat the best of everything
- Eating too soon, or at an inappropriate time – what our parents called “eating between meals” or “ruining your supper”
- Eating too eagerly (“demolishing” that Death Star, for example!)
Last I checked, all of these things except for maybe #2 are considered normal behavior if not virtues today. What is the problem with them? In a nutshell:
Unchecked, gluttony spoils your appetite for God.
This week we are offering up our temptation to gluttony, as we pray with the 6th penitential psalm, Psalm 130. I leave you with St. Paul’s words to the Philippians (emphasis mine):
“Brethren, join in imitating me, and mark those who so live as you have an example in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Phil 3:17-21).
“From the sin of gluttony, O Lord, deliver me…”
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Read my post on praying with the Penitential Psalms for Lent here.