Day Twenty-Nine: Gluttony or Self-Control?

Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Physical gluttony is a disordered desire for food or alcohol. Once an appetite has experienced indulgence, momentary satisfaction quickly fades, leaving one desiring satiation once again. Excessive eating and drinking provide a quick fix to restlessness but ultimately create greater restlessness. Gluttony is often a symptom of deeper spiritual or emotional struggles. It might result from a search for peace, an attempt to fill an interior void, or a general lack of fulfillment in life. It’s important to look into your specific situation to discern why you struggle with this sin.

Gluttony leads to negative effects: it dulls the mind, weakens the will, reduces joy, causes frustration, diminishes concern for personal health, and leaves a persistent feeling of dissatisfaction. In contrast, exercising self-control has numerous positive effects: it sharpens the mind, bolsters the will, and infuses both with renewed energy. It brings joy through the freedom gained from overcoming the vice of gluttony. Moreover, when we practice moderation, eating and drinking become more enjoyable and satisfying. The benefits of improved physical health due to self-control also enhance our spiritual and emotional well-being.

In addition to physical gluttony, spiritual gluttony can affect those who are steadily advancing in the spiritual life and experience great closeness to God. When spiritual sweetness is discovered in meditation and apostolic work, it is easy to take more delight in the good spiritual feelings than in the humble and faithful service of God’s will, especially when God’s will requires sacrifice. When spiritual sweetness is not found, the temptation might be to try some new devotion or begin some new apostolate in the hope that the spiritual sweetness returns. When it doesn’t, frustration and confusion can set in. God, however, is often the source of spiritual dryness, which He uses to draw His faithful servants into greater conformity to His will. Doing God’s will is more grounded in sacrificial love than is spiritual busy-ness and will result in a spiritual satisfaction far beyond good spiritual feelings.

Recall that from the Cross, Jesus recited Psalm 22 when He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). One reason Jesus permitted Himself to experience a complete loss of His Father’s presence within His human soul was to reveal to us that we ought not rely upon spiritual feelings to direct our lives. Despite the immense spiritual dryness Jesus experienced on the Cross, He fulfilled the Father’s will with determination, doing what was right, despite how He felt. This is the perfect cure for gluttony in all forms. If we can persevere through every dryness, empty feeling, loss of consolation, and do what we ought, we will discover Jesus’ strength to persevere through anything. Our faith will be purified, and we will allow God more control over our lives.

Ponder any ways you struggle with gluttony. Then turn your mind to Jesus’ cry from the Cross. His act was a mixture of the greatest love ever shown and the greatest interior suffering ever felt. This profound mystery of the Cross must direct our lives so that we can share in His act of sacrificial love, freed from every indulgence, so that God’s grace will shine through us in ways we can’t imagine.

My sacrificial Lord, Your love was profound beyond comprehension. You permitted Yourself to endure emptiness and interior pain so that by Your free act of the will, You could bestow upon us an act of pure love. Free me from all attempts to indulge myself so that my faith will be strong and my love pure. Jesus, I trust in You.

See also: Day Twenty-Nine: 40 Days at the Foot of the Cross

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