Tuesday, November 15, 2011

You Mean Sloth Aggravates Gluttony?!

Yes, sloth makes it harder to implement the remedies that need to be applied to tackle other sins.

This week I am working on the sin of gluttony. This doesn't mean that I've stopped battling against sloth or acedia - that one will likely be a lifelong process as it definitely seems to be the "king pin" when it comes to my spiritual life. As a matter of fact, acedia plays a big role in my inability to overcome certain sins, even more so than pride, though that too has a place in the bigger picture when it comes to sin. I have no idea whether these posts will even be helpful to others since everyone is unique but the possibility is there so I'll attempt to explain this connection:

Gluttony is by no means my worse fault but it is there to a degree. Maybe not so much in the area of my total food consumption as in my proclivity to addictions to certain foods (drinks too). My nemesis is ice cream. Diet Coke, too, when I don't put a hold on it. I could happily eat ice cream every single day...along with my Diet Coke. My ice cream eating is more than just a simple sweet tooth. By paying attention, I've noticed that I'm most inclined to open the freezer when I'm upset about something. I used to think that I just "liked" the taste, which I do, but it's more than that. I don't like when there is not a lick of ice cream in the house. I like to have it on hand "just in case".

"Just in case of what?" you may ask.


Here's where the problem with sloth has adverse effects on my ability to conquer the other deadly sins. (Though sloth and acedia have slightly different meanings I am going to use the term sloth rather than acedia because sloth is used more often today and seems to have mostly replaced the word acedia.) Sloth says, "I'll work on gluttony tomorrow. Today is not a good day as I have a headache/cold/backache (pick your ache of choice...they all work just fine I've noticed). Surely God wouldn't deny me a sweet treat when I'm feeling so ill. Besides, I'm offering up my sufferings today and certainly that's more than enough. I mean, good grief, the size of my cross is enormous already! Anyone can see that. (We could get into talking about pride here as well...but I don't want to make it too complicated). And I also have soooo many things to do today. It's just not a good day to fast. I'll do it tomorrow when there's less on my plate for the day..."

I could go on and on but I'm sure you get my drift. It's probably more honest to simply say, "I'm not going to fast today" and forget all the self justification that goes along with sloth. I'm really good at justifying myself. Sadly, this just makes matters worse in the long run, as you can see.

Sometimes my attempts at justifying myself become so humorous that I laugh and wink at God. It's not that I'm trying to insinuate by my laughter that it's not important to overcome bad habits...it's my feeble attempts at excusing my actions that crack me up. How obvious they are to God! Do I really think He doesn't see right through this?

The point is: I have difficulty applying the remedy, in this case fasting and practicing the opposing virtue of temperance, because of the problems with sloth. How can I not laugh at the inanity of my dilemma?  It's at times like these when I thank God for the sense of humor He has given me! How easy it would be to get upset about the tasks in front of me instead and throw my hands in the air. Except for one thing...giving up discounts grace and grace is more than capable of tackling the vices.

You can see at this point why I chose to tackle sloth first, in my case. If I tackled gluttony first it would be like trying to move water out of a bucket with a leaky cup. Obviously, the deadly sins take a lot longer than 7 weeks to overcome but writing about these sins is helping me to understand just how much of a part they have played in my life. Plus, I am learning a great deal about virtues to boot.

There is more to gluttony than just the over consumption of food and drink and I'll get to this in my next post. In this one, I wanted to show the interplay and the connection between certain sins such as gluttony and sloth. All the deadly sins are intertwined to a degree but don't let this make you feel overwhelmed because virtues are like this too and virtues are stronger because they come from God.


  1. I just love biscuits, and chocolates, and ginger marmalade and cheese and ... and that's when sloth comes in to help me; because I'm too lazy to go to the shops and buy these things. So sloth conquers gluttony.

    Seriously though. There's nothing wrong in liking the nice things in life such as ice cream. God does not wish us to deny ourselves these things. What we should do however is practice moderation.

    I find one way which helps is to write down what we eat each day and to only have one "good" thing a day. For instance if you have ice cream then don't have chocolate or biscuits etc ... One can also use these "good" things as rewards when one has accomplished a task which they don't like doing.

    Now here's a challenge: would you have brocolli instead of ice cream?

    God bless.

  2. Victor,
    Hmmm...you might have something there :) Maybe I should work on increasing my sloth so I cannot give in to gluttony, eh? After all, if I never left my house I might be able to keep from ever sinning, right? Lol! I wish it was so easy!

    What's wrong with broccoli anyway? It's yummy with cheese sauce and ice cream ;)
    No there's nothing wrong with nice things in moderation. Key word is moderation. I'm not sure eating ice cream when I'm overwhelmed or sad qualifies though. I'm trying to stuff my feelings instead of bringing them to the Lord at times and this never works. If it were only a matter of having an occasional "sweet treat" it wouldn't be a problem but the truth is that I find it quite hard to fast from food because I sometimes use it as consolation. I can fast from things easily but food is tougher, especially certain foods. The problem too is that diabetes runs in my family so I really can't give free reign to my "wants" in this area... I have to put my foot down.

  3. Two more thoughts:

    1 One control mechanism we have in our household is not to buy certain things for a week. - e.g. ice cream, or biscuits or cake. If it's not in the house then we can't have it. Each week we don't buy one item.

    2 I've invented brocolli ice cream. No sugar. Boiled brocolli made into a cream in a blender then frozen. The dog likes it. No one else does!

    God bless.

  4. Hi Mary, I blogged about excuses the other day because I certainly use them to explain my sloth-like behavior. Thank you for doing such a good job at explaining it... now I can't hide my head in the sand and play dumb!

  5. That's a good idea, Victor. I've been trying not to buy ice cream as often lately because I realize I'll eat it if it's there :)

    I was good with the broccoli ice cream until I read the part about no sugar. Are you sure your dog likes it?

  6. Hi Noreen,
    I just popped over and read it and thought your post was right on target. Sad to say that I still do this at times. As your post brings up, God is aware of all this excusing we do. The good thing is that we are also aware that we are doing it which is a step in the right direction :)

    It's funny, it really became obvious to me how often I did this a few years back after my physical healing. It's hard for me to understand how I could be so oblivious to this fault before then, especially in certain areas. Goes to show how patient God is in revealing our faults gradually. Granted, there are times when there ARE real reasons we can't do something but there are also times we just don't want to.
    Thanks for commenting and telling me about your post! I find it very helpful to read the perspective of other bloggers on issues like making excuses and trying to justify our actions. I guess it's a pretty common problem.

  7. Mary, since I know I have a problem with sweets, I know not to buy them because whenever they are at home I will not discipline myself to stop at a reasonable amount. Just remove the temptation and never grocery shop when you're hungry.

    I identify with your eating the ice cream when you're upset. I also use eating as a pacifier. The trick here is to pick something else constructive to do when temptation strikes. Now if I would just do it...

    Loved your comment about the virtues. If we're going to make excuses for doing stuff we shouldn't, maybe we should make excuses to practice virtues. Turn a bad habit into a good one, sort of. Why waste all that good excuse making talent?

  8. Barb,
    Thank you - this is practical advice. I can relate to the "Now if I would just do it..." :) I say I will do something but often putting it into action is another thing altogether. That's where grace helps, thankfully.

    Lol! Yes, why waste all that good excuse making talent! I knew there was something good in all this!

  9. This is LOL: "Besides, I'm offering up my sufferings today and certainly that's more than enough. I mean, good grief, the size of my cross is enormous already!" I am not done reading the post, but I just have to give you credit with these two lines.

  10. For more serious comment - I am better able to recognize severe deficit of temperance in myself than gluttony even if they are opposing virtues. My gluttony isn't in the form of a food, or drink or shopping. It is the internet! One of those looking for love in all the wrong places, but I'm hitting Catholic blogs and hitting refresh too many times to not see it as a glutton like behavior and it is because of not feeling too keen. I am glad it is Catholic blogs though. I used to have a Fox News, worldnetdaily problem and that would just make me angry and such. I still need the Holy Spirit to infuse me with temperance (My slothfulness would love the shortcut) or give me the grace of self-control, self-imposed limits so that I would arrive someday at temperance.

  11. Mary, I am really enjoying these posts and appreciate that you are doing them. That book you mentioned by Peter Kreeft sound like an excellent read. I am well aware that I probably practice all of the seven deadly sins...so many of which society excuses as understandable or just human nature, etc. So there is no accountability there...oh come on, we all do that, there are way worse things you could do that eat a whole bar of chocolate or miss your prayers one day! I guess that's a part of why it's hard...from reading what you wrote about sloth, I really recognize a lot of signs of it in me although I wouldn't have used that word for it before (although it is exactly that). I look forward to learning more and perhaps reading the book you mention because my dilemma is getting out of these destructive habits...

    P.S. Total aside but I have a new FB account, I sent you an invite. :)

  12. I prayed and practiced temperance last night by resisting the urge to have an after dinner snack! It felt good to fully realize what I was about to do and then stopping myself.

  13. Colleen (TOG),
    I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I hope you are feeling better this week! God bless you, too :)

  14. Colleen (ID),
    Lol is right! You can see how pitiful my attempts at justifying myself are and why I find it so humorous when I watch where my thoughts go ;) It's both sad and funny at the same time. I choose to look at the more laughable aspects of thoughts like these because I know the Lord is trying to help me with it by making me more aware of them. Thoughts like these are part and parcel of the struggle against sloth. If I consented to thoughts like these all the time I would end up bitter and hopeless so I try not to allow them to rule me when they pop up. I know that some people do not have a problem in this area but I do. It's much better than it used to be thankfully.

    Loved your comment "My slothfulness would love the shortcut." Lol! Yes, so would mine :) I'm finding that the Lord really seems to want me to exert my will in this area though. To strengthen it, no doubt. Thanks for the great comments! I'll keep your intentions in mind when I pray for you.

  15. Colleen (CDG),
    You've made a very good point here! There doesn't seem to be much accountability in the world these days. Look at the financial institutions, big business, those in positions of power, and it becomes obvious that the seven deadly sins are running rampant in society today. There has also been a loss of personal accountability on a smaller scale too. Have you noticed how quick people are to pass the buck these days? All these things are merely symptoms of a society that has given sin free reign. It results in chaos.

    The seven deadly sins are the roots of sin that need to be pulled from our hearts. All people suffer from them, only the degree varies. Even the saints struggled with these. It's best for us to acknowledge that we do too because it makes it a lot easier for God to remove them. In other words, don't feel bad if you notice them in yourself because they are in me and everyone else too ;) Sometimes the blogosphere can give us the impression that the world is filled with great saints (lol) when nothing could be further from the truth. Tackling the subject of pride today should be a riot! No wonder I left it for last. I'm not saying that there are no great saints in the world today just that the process of sanctification is usually a long process for most of us because of pride. Let's face it, how many humble people do you meet? I know a few but most struggle like I do.

    A few days ago I ordered the book Acedia by Kathleen Norris and I have found the book VERY helpful. I could easily recognize just how much this vice has played havoc with my life while reading it. I highly recommend it. Peter Kreeft's book too.

    I'll pop on Facebook right now :)

  16. Noreen,
    Temperance is a seriously underrated virtue these days. I know I need it! I wonder why practicing virtues lost it's value in this century? It is to the point where many children don't even know what virtues are. A bit scary when I think about it.

  17. Mary, great post! I laughed so hard at the part about excusing oneself because of the sickness/discomfort of the day... How do you know me so well? : )

    My weakness is chocolate..among other goodies as well.

    Seriously, reading through your entire post, and the others that preceded it, I realize how far I have to go and how much I sitll need to work on so many of these sins. It is so easy to fall into them and not even realize it, because we may not be seriously gluttonous, etc., but are still retarding our spiritual growth.

    Your self-knowledge is truly a Gift of the Holy Spirit; thank you for sharing His Wisdom with us too.

    Prayers for you and all of us on this journey...may we find strength in numbers here : ) Where two or three or gathered in My Name.....

    God love you, Mary..you are a Joy!


  18. Gluttony isn't just wanting too much of something it is also the attitude of I want this my way and I want it right now.

    Eg. "all I want is a three minute and and french toast for breakfast. I want the egg exactly three minutes and the french toast is to have powdered sugar NOT cinnamon, is that too much to ask.

    Word verification: tremi ( Italian for "you are trembling"

  19. Patricia,
    Lol! You too? Look on the bright side - at least you have company :) Another positive aspect of seeing these things in ourselves is that it shows that God has worked some of the pride out of our hearts. No doubt God would be more concerned if we didn't admit to (or see) any of the deadly sins.

    I'm a chocolate fan too :)
    One of the reasons I'm tackling the seven deadly sins is because I will be renewing my consecration to Our Lady soon and I wanted to be prepared.

    Yes, let's all pray for each other!

  20. Puff,
    Yes, this is another aspect of gluttony :) I'm working on another post on this subject and in it I bring up St. Thomas Aquinas' definition of gluttony which includes pickiness in our eating habits. Thanks for commenting!

    Lol! I'm trembling, that's for sure!

  21. Mary, as always you share topics that causes at least my brain to ponder. Thank you dear one. Great post. Blessings.

  22. I'm glad you enjoyed it, JBR! Your post today was excellent!!