Live Today Well!
So incredibly fitting that we're discussing Chapter 6 today, which is entitled: "On Meals: Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary." The chapter talks about fasting, and indeed, we are fasting today!
So what do we have by way of inspiration for meals?
"We should not go merely to eat, but to obey God and to take part in shared experience of community with one another."
Here, we read about a two-pronged approach to meals. God created our bodies such that we must eat to survive, thus we are obeying Him by eating. At the same time, a very routine and mandatory part of our day can be used as an opportunity to focus on others, rather than ourselves. We can talk to them and relate to them in their daily journey. If we re-intend our approach to meals in this way, we take an ordinary even, and make it extraordinary. The potential is there, if only we seize it.
On fasting, we learn:
"The practice of denying ourselves in some way at table reminds us that our personal instincts and existential needs do not control our freedom. Instead, we choose to forgo some delectable delight, such as a favorite condiment or a tempting dessert, or even a second helping. In this way, we can exercise a bit of mastery over our senses and thus give priority to the spirit over the flesh."
I love the relatable detail in here. It's very easy to take a second helping when you're really not all that hungry, simply because you are enjoying the food and think you deserve to continue to unwind after a long day. Changing our perspective on how we see meals overall - as an opportunity to focus on the needs of those we are eating with, and an opportunity to deny ourselves in a small way after eating (and enjoying, I think that's important) our food for sustenance - causes us to choose to be conscious of a small way to give back to God.
I like this very balanced approach to fasting. Fasting can be detrimental to one's health for any number of medical reasons, and St. Francis points out that fasting is really about our *attitude* more than anything else. On a day in which you're trying to fast, sacrifice the ketchup on your hamburger that you enjoy so much, or sacrifice having dessert. It's important to have a positive relationship with food. We should enjoy what we eat, but we can also exercise self-control in small ways to make a big difference in our spirit.
What did you all think of the suggestions in this chapter with regards to approach meals and fasting? Next week we turn to our attitudes at work. Oh boy. :0
I had never considered that by eating I was obeying God. I was also intrigued by the idea that we shouldn't be too particular or too eager in eating. I have heard about the sin of gluttony before but I am much more likely to be too picky than too eager. So the idea of meal time as a way of practicing self control and gratefulness because I don't like what is being served really hit me.ReplyDelete
Last weekend I was at the Los Angeles Religion Education Congress. One of the sessions I attended was a musical biography of St. Theresa of Calcutta. The presenter mentioned the Mother Theresa quote to "do small things with great love" and that it was related to St. Therese of Lisieux's little way. I immediately thought of St. Francis and how he has been encouraging us though Live Today Well to make small changes in our lives. And since these are 3 great saints all encouraging us to do small things I started to wonder about small things. Is it that it is easier to do small things or that for most of us doing small things is the best way to draw closer to God or are we are made for doing small things? It's something I'm still pondering but I wanted to share it with everyone.
I love the small things philosophy as well. <3 My day is full of small things, truly, never large things. And very mundane things at that. But those small things often bring me joy. They can also bring me frustration, but such is life for all of us. And seeing all of these things as what God wants for us, and as an opportunity to draw closer to Him, has really transformed it for me.
I really appreciated taking the time to thinking about how I approach food and meals. I did find it really tough to read about meals and enjoying/ appreciating our food today while trying to fast. (I'm not very good at fasting so it's extra challenging, not to mention I'd like to get started adjusting my attitude to food... there's always tomorrow.)ReplyDelete
Yeah, the timing was really ironic, wasn't it?! I'm not so good at fasting either. I *did* do well avoiding wine (which I really wanted yesterday), and dessert. Otherwise, I think I could have done better (I tend to space out my eating a lot given my crazy teaching schedule, so that I don't ever have stomach rumbling problems). But then I reflected on St. Francis's thoughts on how fasting is about your intentions, and that made me feel better. :)Delete
"Mealtime also represents an opportunity to relate to others." Has anyone else observed heightened enjoyment of the exact same foods/drinks taken in good company vs. eating alone? Food just tastes better to me when enjoyed with friends & family! I'm not sure what that phenomenon is but it makes me think of the meaning of the word 'communion'.ReplyDelete
Robin, I completely agree, and I love your analogy! And indeed, when we are eating with others, we tend to take our time more, and not rush through the food, because we're talking and listening. Less opportunity to be picky or gluttonous.Delete