My Spirit: Days 4-6
An integral, foundational element that I know I must incorporate in this fast, is prayer and meditation. It is important for me to nurture my spiritual life as well. Unfortunately, prior to this fast, I had been slacking big time in this area. Now, I can’t use food as an excuse to miss prayer time, so I might as well make the most of this fast! At this time in my life, I have to psych myself out when it comes to prayer and meditation.
In the past I would set ridiculous goals that I was not prepared for. For example, in my mind I would say to myself, “Okay. Today I am going to lock myself in my room and spend one hour in meditation and prayer.” Well guess what? I would get overwhelmed just thinking about one whole hour in prayer and meditation, and would end up not praying or meditating at all!
I’ve learned that it takes time to build spiritual muscle, similar to how it would take time for me to build my leg muscles, arm muscles, back muscles, stomach muscles, etc. I know from experience that the times I would try to do too much too quickly spiritually, without already having a habit of prayer and meditation in my life, I would burn myself out and quit for weeks at a time.
My Spiritual Muscle Building Plan
The same was true when it came to exercise. When I was in middle school, I would come up with these crazy exercise goals because I thought, “The more I exercise, the more weight I’ll lose.” For example, one time I planned on exercising 5 consecutive days of the week for one hour each of those days. This was before I knew that it was possible to over exercise, and that, although exercise has several health benefits, it is not necessary for losing weight. If a person merely wants to lose weight, tweeking their diet would do the trick.
Because I had not developed a habit of exercising up to that point, this absurd resolution to exercise 5 consecutive days for one hour each day, only lasted TWO days!
Therefore, when it comes to meditation, I believe that it would be much better for me to begin with a time frame that I can manage in order to achieve my spiritual long term goals.
For now, my spiritual goals are as follows:
- Upon waking, spend 10 minutes either meditating on a bible passage, or spiritual reading (i.e. Introduction to the Devout Life)
- Go to daily Mass
- 10 Minutes of spiritual reading before bedtime
And that’s it!
As I continue, I hope to be adding more “spiritual weights” to my routine when appropriate.
Being Controlled by Food
Again, my reasons for doing this fast go beyond weight loss. One of those reasons is, I’m tired of feeling like food controls me. I do not want this unhealthy attachment to food. Food is a good thing! Attachment to food, is not.
I mentioned (here) that I was listening to a homily given by Fr. Ripperger who said that it takes about 3 weeks to break an attachment to a vice, and another 3 weeks to build the corresponding virtue.
5 Ways We Can Be Gluttonous
In my case, one of the vices I struggle with is gluttony. The virtue contrary to this vice is temperance (tempering, moderating, and balancing appetites). I used to think that gluttony only referred to overeating. However, St. Thomas Aquinas offers more insight into the different ways (5 ways) a person can be gluttonous. They are as follows:
- Eating too much/too eagerly (controlled by the smells and tastes of food. these people tend to overeat often)
- Eating too soon (i.e. you’re not hungry but you eat…”Eat six meals a day to keep your metabolism up.”)
- Eating too expensively (i.e. spending too much money on expensive foods that one can live without if he or she tried. If you can’t “live without it” you have a disordered attachment to food)
- Eating too daintily (i.e. will only eat a certain kind of food; organic, raw, locally grown, etc. At restaurants, these people are VERY particular with their orders and will only eat something if it is cooked and prepared the way they asked it to be cooked. If you are healthy and don’t have allergies to most foods, and refuse to eat something because it is not what you prefer, that is gluttony. Those in poverty whom do not care if something is “organic.” All they know is that food is food and they tend to not be picky with what they eat.)
- Eating too fast (i.e. scarfing food down, getting second helpings without thinking about people who may not have eaten)
This gave me a lot to think about, and I must confess. I am guilty of ALL five of these, and none of them are lesser than, or greater than the other. They all point to a disordered attachment to food in some way, and this is one out of many attachments that I am longing to be rid of.
The Symptoms of Disease
In the physical realm, when people are sick, they often embody symptoms of an underlying illness. For example, possible symptoms of COVID-19 are:
- Fever or chills
- shortness of breath
- sore throat etc.
In order to heal someone completely from an illness, most would agree that it would be best get to the root of the illness itself, instead of merely suppressing the symptoms of the illness.
I believe that the same is true when it comes to the spiritual lives of human beings. For me, the excess fat on my body is a symptom of gluttony. Just because I lose weight, doesn’t mean that the underlying “disease/illness” (gluttony) has been treated. I mentioned in my About Me section that since 2009, I had slowly lost 60-70 lbs.
That is a lot of weight to lose, but I have to be honest. My inclination towards overeating has not been “cured.” So I’m praying that these inclinations and habits will be driven out by prayer and fasting (Matt. 17: 21).
I’m in this for the long haul my friends. I strongly desire to be temperate in ALL of my bodily appetites, and right now, I am choosing to start with my tummy.