|Hieronymus Bosch: Gluttony|
I have to admit that I don't know as much about gluttony as I thought I did. Most of the information I had on this sin was from Peter Kreeft's book Back to Virtue. I don't know why I thought it was as simple as overeating or drinking too much...I should have known there was much more to it.
The easy definition of gluttony is eating or drinking inordinately. Who hasn't been guilty of this sin at times? Very few of us I'm sure. For those who say, "Wait a minute! I never overeat or drink too much!" I have some bad news for you (well, it was bad for me at least):
According to St. Thomas Aquinas, gluttony consists of :
~eating food that is too luxurious
~eating too much food
~eating daintily (fussiness about food preparation)
~ eating at inappropriate times (for example too much snacking at night or between meals)
~eating too eagerly
I have done most of these things. I've definitely shovelled food down my throat without paying much attention to what I was doing. I've eaten at inappropriate times too. Though these things may seem nitpicky, St. Thomas warns us about each of these because gluttony generates other sins. Plus, it is selfish. I guess in our day many of us consume too much of the world's goods. As if the above definition is not enough, gluttony can also carry over to areas other than eating or drinking.
What are some of the signs and symptoms of gluttony?
~ mindless eating
~ hiding or sneaking food
~ hoarding food
~ being picky about how your food is prepared
~ snobbery when it comes to food (only the best, costliest or most exotic food will do)
~ using food to soothe emotions
~ addictions (alcohol, drug, caffeine, etc...)
~ eating disorders
~ ill health
~ lack of zeal for God
The list could go on but these are the most obvious ones. I didn't put being overweight on the list because thin people can have as much of a problem with gluttony as heavy people. Gluttony is more about having a "malnourished" soul. Our selfish over consumption of the things of this world lead to a narrowing of the spirit and a lack of generosity toward others. This is conquered by praying for and practicing the virtues of temperance and charity. Fasting is a great help with this deadly sin. We can also pray for a heart that's rightly ordered because a disordered heart is one that is too focused on oneself.
I won't even get started on the subject of spiritual gluttony...I'll leave that to an expert - St. John of the Cross