Monday, November 24, 2008

Holiday gluttony


The dictionary defines gluttony as the act or habit of eating to excess. Gluttony is an unregulated love for food or drink, an appetite out of order by which we abuse the legitimate pleasure God has attached to eating and drinking. It is sometimes said that gluttony makes one “like an animal” though animals seldom overeat or drink too much.

The holiday gluttony season begins later this week with an American Thanksgiving Day celebration on Thursday, soon to be followed by Christmas Day with all the festive parties in the home and workplace that precede it, then concludes with New Years Eve and New Years Day celebrations. My count of the days on a calendar is that this holiday gluttony season spans a 36-day period.

Gluttony has existed as long as man and his food. The great philosopher St. Augustine devoted an entire chapter to excess in eating and drinking in his classic The Confessions of St. Augustine. I spent some time this past weekend reading this classic, and was reminded that my own challenges with gluttony aren’t much different than what St. Augustine experienced over one thousand six hundred years ago.

St. Augustine wrote that by eating and drinking we repair the daily decays of the body. This necessity of eating and drinking was sweet to him, but he fought not to be taken captive by it.

Hunger and thirst were his pains and, like a fever, they burned until aided by the medicine of nourishment necessary for good health. He wrote, “thus, whereas health is the cause of eating and drinking, yet a dangerous delight accompanies those activities and for the most part endeavors to take precedence so that I may do for its sake what I pretend and desire to do for health’s sake.”

St. Augustine described that he became uncertain whether it was the necessary care of his body asking for sustenance or the voluptuous deceit of greediness that proffered its services.

Will we face the same challenges with gluttony this holiday season that St. Augustine battled in the fourth century? Will we be eating eight or nine days of food in seven days this Thanksgiving Day week? How much more nourishment does a dozen Christmas cookies give than one? How often will we eat during this holiday season because food and drink is abundantly available rather than real physical hunger? Finally, is it really physical hunger we experience or something deeper residing in our spirit, never to be satisfied by any amount of food and drink?

These are questions I’ll be asking while standing guard to protect myself from my own predisposition to holiday gluttony.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

7 comments:

Charles Long said...

Great post, Ed. This is similar to what I was going to blog about. I may have to change my focus so people won't think I copied you. In all honesty, you said it better than I would have.

pierini said...

Thanks for the compliment Charles. It's a big blog world out there, room for more than one reflection on the same thought. I encourage you to go with your original idea.

Brian said...

You're pulling out the big guns with St. Augustine. Good post.

joan said...

Hello My Brother in Fitness! What a great reminder to, "Honor our temple and not treat it as a garbage disposal!" I will remember this as I embark on the next 36 days! Let's shoot for our PB!!!!!!!!
Joan

Anonymous said...

One thing I like about this Fast-5 type thing I'm on, first I don't have to worry about breakfast or packing foor, and second, it fits in perfectly with Thanksgiving type dinners. I guess that's more than one thing . . . Don't eat until dinner, then don't worry about it, and it takes very little to fill up too full because the stomach is not constantly over-stretched.

I like the references too in the writing, except quoting dictionaries. A pet peeve - never start a speech or article mentioning dictionaries.

People with pet peeves are annoying, why do they have to tell us about them?

Good stuff, as always.

Tom

Anonymous said...

And people who don't check their spelling . . . Jeesh!

Foor?????

Tom

pierini said...

Tom, you had me reviewing my blogflection, looking for a typo until I realized that it was you talking to yourself.

I'll work on my starts to make them more pleasing to you.

Thanks for stopping by.