Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Turkish Delight

"Edmund was already feeling uncomfortable from having eaten too many sweets and when he heard that the Lady he had made friends with was a dangerous witch he felt even more uncomfortable.  But he still wanted to taste that Turkish Delight more than he wanted anything else." ~ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

No one ever explicitly desires evil; to do so is contrary to our very nature.  We are always seeking what is good…or, rather, what we perceive as good.  Unfortunately, many times our perception is flawed and what we think is good for us turns out to be quite the opposite.

Take, for example, Edmund from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  There is nothing inherently evil about Turkish Delight, but when one’s desire for it isn’t directed by reason, it does indeed become evil.  If you have read the book or watched the movie, it becomes quite clear that Edmund’s inordinate love of this delicacy led to a great deal of evil.

This week’s vice is another one of the seven deadly sins: gluttony.  Derived from a Latin word meaning to gulp or swallow, by definition, gluttony is an inordinate desire for food or drink. 

Overeating is certainly gluttonous, as you probably know.  But this vice isn’t limited to just the degree of consumption. 

You see, gluttony also pertains to the way in which a person eats.  As human beings created in the image and likeness of God, does this nobility of ours shine through all of our doings…even around the dinner table?  Or when we’re alone in the kitchen, scrounging through the fridge or cabinets?

Here are some ways gluttony can rear its ugly head:
  •      Scarfing down your food as rapidly as possible
  •      Ignoring any conversation with those around you so you can   focus 100% on your dinner plate
  •       Eating when you aren’t actually hungry
  •       Demanding food that is made of very costly ingredients
  •       Only eating food that is prepared with 5-star restaurant quality 

There is nothing wrong with enjoying your food—we’re supposed to enjoy it, after all, since it is required for our very survival.  The fault comes when we allow the pleasure of food to surpass our reason.  Drowning your sorrows in a gallon of Ben and Jerry’s isn’t the most rational recourse in time of trouble…even though it tastes really good.

St. Alphonus Ligouri sums up gluttony well:  “It is not a fault to feel pleasure in eating: for it is, generally speaking, impossible to eat without experiencing the delight which food naturally produces. But it is a defect to eat, like beasts, through the sole motive of sensual gratification, and without any reasonable object.”

The same applies to drink—specifically, alcohol.  There is nothing inherently wrong with alcohol, but its abuse is evil.  Drinking to the point of intoxication is wrong because someone who is inebriated no longer has control over his or her thoughts, words, and actions.  So serious is this willing surrender of one’s free will that it is considered a mortal (deadly) sin.

In all things, including when we are eating or drinking, we must always keep our eternal destination in mind.  We weren’t created for this world and so our consumption of worldly pleasures (no matter how scrumptious they may be) shouldn’t consume us.  

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