Our team (from Teams of Our Lady) is currently reading and discussing Fulton J. Sheen's slim book The Seven Capital Sins. So far, the chapter on gluttony has been the most attention-grabbing for me.
The archbishop composed this as a series of addresses in 1939, but you'd swear it was actually last week. For example:
"If there is any indication of the present degeneration of society better than another it is the excess of luxury in the modern world. When men begin to forget their souls, they begin to take great care of their bodies. There are more athletic clubs in the modern world than there are spiritual retreat houses; and who shall count the millions spent in beauty shops to glorify faces that will one day be the prey of worms. It is not particularly difficult to find thousands who will spend two or three hours a day in exercising, but if you ask them to bend their knees to God in five minutes of prayer they protest that it is too long."
He points out that the difference between dieting and fasting is intention: Christians fast "for the sake of the soul" rather than the body (looking good). "The Christian does not fast because he believes the body is wicked, but in order to make it pliable in the hands of the soul." And again, "We are to mortify bodily hunger and thirst not because the flesh is wicked, but because the soul must ever exercise mastery over it, lest it become a tyrant."
Archbishop Sheen asserts that we are called "to cultivate a spiritual hunger and thirst. Mortification of the bodily appetites is only a means, not an end. The end is union with God, the soul's desire."
"Tell me your hungers and your thirsts and I will tell you what you are."
"The great pity is that so many have been so concerned with the body that they neglect the soul, and in neglecting the soul they lose the appetite for the spiritual."
After reminding us that God Himself is waiting for us in the tabernacle and in Holy Communion (every day!), the archbishop wonders why more of us don't avail ourselves of this opportunity: ". . . what does it winess to but the deadening of our spiritual sense? Our body would miss a dessert more than our soul would miss a Communion." Ouch!
This isn't meant as a finger-wagging to make you feel bad. Maybe it's a wakeup call. Since our team reviewed this chapter, I haven't been better about getting to Mass myself. I have, though, set aside more time for prayer and made a few quick visits to the chapel. I'm trying to pay more attention to body AND soul and how they interact.
What are YOU hungry for?