Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Sins

St. Teresa of Liseux was a scrupulous girl. She used to lament and confess her sins, which to the commoner would seem hardly worthy of being called imperfections. Saying a mean word to one of her sisters or grumbling when given a task to do were perceived as the most mortal of sins.

Teresa's sins seem ridiculous, hardly worthy of confession. But the weight of such imperfections is in the eye of the beholder. While adultery and idolatry might be avoided by those climbing the ladder of divine ascent, other, more particular sins, take their place. Like the gophers at Chuck-E-Cheese, you hit one, and another pops up in a different place.

In attempting to exercise control over my sexual appetite, I have been suffering more now from the sins of gluttony and sloth. St. John Cassian refers to this in his "Eight Vices" as the demons of the belly and of listlessness. After a change in my medication I have gotten my appetite back and eat with enthusiasm, putting on thirty pounds in the last month. But I often eat out of boredom, or to fulfil some (as Evagrius puts it) "sensual desire." An exercise in self control with regards to eating would be eating a modest breakfast lunch and dinner, and eating nothing in between. This is a form of fasting, and Jesus extols fasting as a means of driving out demons. Even though I hate fasting, it might be worth my while to practice it to guard my passions and exercise control over my will, if not to lose weight.

Thanksgiving is a time for feasting, but that time is over now. But I continue to eat voraciously at all hours, even waking up in the middle of the night and making my way to the refrigerator. A full belly invites the listlessness that John Cassian condemns. I eat, then sleep, getting up only to eat again. I may have work to do but I don't want to do it, and nap instead. Fullness of the belly causes heavy eyelids, and the cycle continues. Oh, what a bad monk I would make. But I will continue to practice, and will not be dejected at my weakness. I will keep my eye on the prize.

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