Monday, March 11, 2013

My lenten diet

I love food!

More accurately, I love it eating food. So, every year, a large part of my lenten sacrifice is decreasing the food intake—no snacks between meals and practice portion control. It's hard for me, and I know God's grace is the only thing that makes this discipline possible.

Inevitably I end up losing weight, which is not a bad thing. After a wee bit of overindulgence celebrating the Christmas season, there are few extra pounds calling my waistline home. OK, I love snacks anytime, but Christmas baking and a long, cold Canadian winter are convenient scapegoats. I've been blessed with a higher metabolism, and I live a relatively healthy lifestyle: exercise somewhat regularly and eat well (thanks in no small part to my wife making sure we have a good balance of food come meal and snack time). But age slows all things, so food tends to more easily find a home around my waist area than it did 10 years ago.

Is it bad to consider lent an annual diet?

It's interesting to note diet can be a noun or a verb. The verb definition means to regulate one's food intake. Regulate can include restricting the intake of things that aren't good for you, and it can also mean adding things that are good for you. Fewer Doritos, more fruit and veggies.

Lent is a season in which we pay particular attention to regulating our activities—a spiritual diet. Focus less on ourselves and our selfish desires and more on God, His love, mercy and grace, and on the needs of others. 

Regulate is a verb, an action word. We are called to do something during this season. The traditional practices of prayer, fasting and alms cover a wealth of possibilities for us to do something.

I think St. Ignatius of Loyola was on to something when he used the phrase spiritual exercises. Prayer is an action that gets your soul in shape.

Fasting is also an action, a discipline that helps us rely on God more than our own physical strength.

Giving of oneself, sharing our God given gifts with others, be they material goods or our time, requires action. It helps us realize all our blessings come from God; we are mere stewards of them during our time here on Earth.

So, my lenten diet is a good thing, not because I end up losing a few pounds like the traditional definition of diet would imply; that's just a side-effect. My diet is a good thing because I'm trying to regulate my spiritual life so my soul is healthy and fit, ready to run the race ( cf. 1 Cor 9:24-27). By the grace of God these practices become habit, and they continue throughout the year.

Now pass the Doritos.

No comments:

Post a Comment