Gluttony – part one


Let’s go on with our reflection on the awareness of our passions, also known as cardinal sins.
“Cardinal” because they preside and influence many thoughts and many actions.
After arrogance and pride, we will deal with the most common passion, the one that all human beings, indistinctly, are more easily subjected to: gluttony.
It apparently is the most harmless one and it seems to concern only our own being. Indeed, when I eat, when I satisfy my greed, I do no harm to anybody.

This is not completely true.

For the time being, let’s not go too deep into subtle reasoning to analyze in what way other people can also be involved in our weakness.
Let’s focus on the passion in itself, and try to understand in what way it is harmful for us.
First of all, we have to remind ourselves that eating is the most essential element in our life: as much as it is breathing.

Therefore, if we want to live, we have to eat.

Once out of our maternal womb, we start striving for food: our mother’s milk.

Our beloved Creator has associated a kind of pleasure to this primordial instinct.
What a beautiful gift!
The first duty of our existence, the activity necessary to our survival, is associated with pleasure.

Feeding oneself is a necessity and sometimes a duty, but it’s a duty that can bring great pleasure; such a great pleasure that it can turn into a vice and an addiction.
But, when and how does the natural pleasure of food turn into a vice, a form of slavery?
When we are not able to manage it; when we are not able to feed ourselves, with joy of course, but only having in mind the wellness of our body.

When we stop considering our health, considering what is necessary and useful in a specific moment of our life.

When we stop thinking about what is superfluous, harmful, useless, but we let ourselves be dragged by an impulse and don’t want to deprive ourselves of the pleasure provided by food.
Shortly, when we consider pleasure a priority.
Why is pleasure in itself evil, a vice?
At least for two reasons.
The first is a material one.
Because we stop thinking about the wellbeing of our body, and eat food that can ruin it. In terms of both quantity and quality.
Sure enough, the most serious and evident cases are maybe only a few, but there are forms of illnesses that are caused by an excess of dangerous substances for our organism.  
The second is a psychological and spiritual one.
Those who are not able to manage the impulse towards food show to be slave to that pleasure.
It is as if their will were possessed, their freedom conditioned and limited.
The weakness of our will towards the temptation of gluttony is not limited to this sphere but it has an impact on our whole life; indeed, if we don’t have the strength to resist a impulse, it means that we are weak.

And when other similar situations occur, when we have to choose between an immediate pleasure and a sacrifice, or between that pleasure and a more deferred one, we will not be able to act using the due caution.
We always need to remember the following truth:
the practice of our freedom is possible only when we have the control of our will.
If our will is controlled by pleasure we will no longer be able to follow the rationality of our intellect or to choose the real wellbeing.

Our will is no longer at the service of the real wellbeing but of a partial and limited one, that only represents one part of our being.

Our body – not our mind – will be in control.

And for a human being there is nothing worse than being guided by an impulse instead of by the intellect.
Without even realizing it, he has abandoned his human dignity: being a free creature.

I believe it is useful for us to start thinking about this first aspect and stop here, for the time being, in order to be able to meditate with due time on this first truth.
We will later continue our reflection in order to have a more exhaustive idea of the subject, in order to be able to get to know and cultivate the virtue of temperance, so important for our psychological and spiritual wellbeing.
Fra Giuseppe Paparone


Click to go to the next post on the topic (Journey into self-knowledge 6 – Gluttony – part two)