Right relationship…

One thing we see often in the Volumes is that if Luisa has a question, it is Jesus himself who puts it in her heads because he means to answer it for the benefit of all. Fiat!

That same principle is at work in our own spiritual growth. After my blog post, Words…Time…Food, a reader sent me this:

Thank you for your latest article… It is meant for me and parts of it are confirming a struggle area with food. I am what you could call a “foodie” and I love good food, it’s an important part of the hearth, family life, gatherings and also my meditations on the life God gives us, its beauty etc. The only problem is that I think about food a lot … I know that it’s an attachment … But how to break it? 

Sometimes I wonder why God gave us these things if we can’t enjoy them. But then I think that it’s because of our fallen nature that we have to detach from everything lest they become idols. 

Food is meant to be delicious by God’s design and it’s an important part of family life. However, as the reader implies, our fallen nature tends to go overboard. If we are not careful anything can become an idol—even, conversely, fasting. It is undeniable that in the western world there is much reparation to be made for the idolization of food, in ourselves and in all souls, past, present, and future. This is not a new problem, but I think I can safely say that this is the first time in history food has had its own TV network. Crazy times! 

I was listening to a Fr. Iannuzzi podcast recently in which he reminded us that Jesus was criticized by the Pharisees for “eating and drinking”. However, he pointed out that Jesus always ate in moderation and with thanksgiving. We must do the same, eat with moderation, with gratitude, and with joy, but not “inordinate joy”, which is inordinate attachment. In addition, we must take joy in the gift of food even if it is not to our taste somehow—too hot, too cold, too sweet, too sour, too bland, too salty, undercooked, overcooked, etc. Complaining is a manifestation of the sin of ingratitude. (I once asked the Lord what to give up for Lent and the next word that popped into my head was “complaining”! It was a very interesting and challenging exercise!)

As I was thinking of how to respond, the Lord distilled it down to one word—Fiat! Of course! In the Divine Will, all is “Fiat!” and “Thank you Father!”

What does this look like? A very effective way to break our attachment to food is to put to death our own will where food is concerned—to die to self, as Jesus exhorts his followers. In the Divine Will we say, “Jesus, eat in my eating!” Fused into Jesus, we can allow him to help us fast from our self-will, to help us find ways to proclaim our fiat with holy joy in in right relationship with food. Did someone eat the last cookie or that piece of pie you had tucked away in the back of the fridge? “Fiat! I thank you Jesus for them and for me and for all!”

Other suggestions are to plan meals around someone else’s preferences, not your own. Instead of having your favorite breakfast, have your second favorite or your least favorite. Or make up a three-day rotation of breakfasts so you have no choice but to have what comes next. Then you are not thinking, planning, and giving food space in your head and your heart. Soon you will find you are thinking about food less. A sip at a time, a morsel at a time, your will and attachment to food will die. It must be done with joy and not with resentment.

I love this passage from Ralph Martin’s book Fulfillment of All Desire. He is talking about greed for money, but it can refer to greed for food as well. This excerpt is from the chapter titled, “Growing in Freedom”:

The goal of the process of detachment is not to stop loving the things and people of this world, but, quite to the contrary, to love them even more truly in God, under the reign of Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

John of the Cross: “We are not discussing the mere lack of things; this lack will not divest the soul if it craves for all these objects. We are dealing with the denudation of the soul’s appetites and gratifications. This is what leaves it free and empty of all things, even though it possesses them.”

Bernard of Clairvaux: “They do possess earthly things, but with the spirit of men who possess nothing…The miser hungers like a beggar for earthly possessions, the man of faith has a lordly independence of them. The first is a beggar no matter what he owns, the latter by his very independence is a true owner.”

Francis de Sales: “So also you can possess riches without being poisoned by them if you merely keep them in your home and purse and not in your heart. To be rich in effect and poor in affection is a great happiness for a Christian. By this means he has the advantages of riches for this world and the merit of poverty for the world to come….I willingly grant that you may take care to increase your wealth and resources, provided this is done not only justly but properly and charitably.”

Part of the vocation of those who have money is using it well under the guidance of the holy spirit….This must mean regularly giving part of our wealth away for the service of the Lord and the relief of the poor, and by personally serving them.

The ‘contentment’ that the Scriptures talk about is dependent not on how much or how little money we have but on knowing who is caring for us – God himself! (Ralph Martin, Fulfillment of All Desire, Emmaus Road Publishing, 2006)

Attachments are like the ropes holding down a hot air balloon. Until all are cut, the balloon cannot fly. To paraphrase a clip from the Volumes, whether a bird is tethered with a thread or a rope, it is still tethered. All these tethers are impeding God’s work in us and through us. Let’s see them for what they are and be glad to be rid of them.

When God takes something away from us, he longs to return it to us in right relationship. Follow his lead, trust him completely, and whatever he wants to take away, be it a single cookie or a whole category of food (as in food sensitivities or allergies) give him your Fiat (and following doctor’s orders)!

We must work and pray to be delivered of all inordinate attachments. Ask and ask again. Confess and confess gain. Try and try again. The only failure is to stop trying. God will reward us for even the smallest effort, and if we rely on him he will take us farther than we ever thought possible!

This is not a weight-loss plan but a way to die to our self-will and above all to offer reparation in the Divine Will for the ways we and the world have idolized food. Do every little thing in the Divine Will, make it invisible to others, doing it out of pure love of God and with great joy. Say, “For you, Jesus, my Beloved.” Put the focus where it belongs, then forget about it. Think of it as giving him a grain of sand, which he can transform into a precious pearl, for His glory and the salvation of souls. Fiat!

Third Hour of the Passion: Jesus is comforted by the Angels in the Garden of Gethsemane

Reflections and practices

Can we say that we are the angels of Jesus by remaining around Him to comfort Him and share in His bitterness? However, in order to be as a true Angel for Jesus, it is necessary to take sufferings as sent by Him, and therefore as divine sufferings. Only then can we dare to console a God so embittered. Otherwise, if we take pains in a human way, we cannot use them to comfort this Man-God, and therefore we cannot be His Angels.

In the pains which Jesus sends to us, it seems that He sends us the chalice in which we must place the fruit of those pains. These pains, suffered with love and resignation, will turn into a most sweet nectar for Jesus. In every pain we will say: ‘Jesus is calling us around Him to be His angel. He wants our comforts, so He makes us share in His pains.’

My love, Jesus, in my pains I look for your Heart to rest, and in your pains I intend to give You shelter with my pains, so that we may exchange them, and I may be your consoling angel. (L. Piccarreta, Twenty-Four Hours of the Passion: Third Hour, Reflection by St. Hannibale di Francia)


2 responses

  1. This struck a chord with me! Last Lent I used a book called “Eat, Fast, Feast” by a Catholic author, Jay Richards. While I am not a foodie, it helped me see how attached I am to my own appetite! I have never been able to fast very well either. This book was a grace that helped me see my attachment to food, how I always choose “what sounds good to eat.” Each week (the book gives a six week program), I thought, “This is going to be too hard. I don’t think I’ll be able to do it.”. But with the Divine Will, He supplied all that I lacked! I was even able to fast for the Holy Triduum which I know I could not do on my own strength. Perhaps this book may be of help to your reader or others. It was a chance to see my own disorder and nothingness more clearly and to take a step in re-ordering my will through Him.

    I will pray for your reader and all of us who struggle with this!

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