The above is a picture of cupcakes in the shape of a rosary! I think this is really creative!!
Have you ever had the experience of your stomach growling in public? Ever notice how it happens in the quietest moments such as in the middle of a meeting at work or in the middle of Mass?? So, what is our body saying to us when our stomach growls? Stomach growling can be a sign that we are hungry. It is a sign that our body is in need of nourishment…the stomach is saying, “feed me!”
We all know the feeling of hunger…and we also know the feeling… “I ate too much!!” When we think of gluttony, we tend to think of overeating or overdrinking in order to satisfy our appetite. With this said, there is nothing wrong with enjoying a good meal! I am sure that our Blessed Mother fed St. Joseph and Jesus well! Imagine, St. Joseph working all day in the carpenter shop, and imagine Jesus, a growing boy, how hungry they would be!! Our Lord enjoyed eating! We hear about Him eating with His Apostles after His Resurrection…we hear about Him eating at Matthew’s house and the house of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Jesus also went to a wedding, where I am sure there was lots of food! Jesus even turned water into wine!
The problem arises when we use food, money, and other pleasures in order to satisfy our own selves, and not to give glory to God. We tend to use things in order to satisfy our own selfish pleasures, and as a result, it is easy to overindulge. Overindulgence can happen in the spiritual life too…something St. John of the Cross calls “spiritual gluttony.”
“Spiritual gluttony expresses itself when we are desiring spiritual gratification rather than trying to conform ourselves to the will of God (c.f. Ralph Martin The Fulfillment of All Desire pg 344-345).” Spiritual Gluttony means to seek sensible devotion more than the praise of God. We should not love consolations more than the God of consolations. For example, It is easy to “crave the sweetness” in prayer and in receiving the Sacraments; however, our primary focus needs to be on union with God. Even if God takes away the sweetness in prayer, we must keep praying!!
St. John of the Cross says, “God often withdraws sensory delight and pleasure so that souls might set the eyes of faith on this [Blessed Sacrament].” (St. John of the Cross Dark Night of the Soul Bk 1 chap 6. No. 5 pg 372) Jesus wants our eyes fixed on Him and so He will allow sensory delights and pleasures to be withdrawn. This is not a punishment!!! This is a good thing!!! It is a step toward maturity in the spiritual life!!
It is possible for us to follow only our own emotions and feelings, which can be very destructive. For example, remember, for years St. Mother Teresa “lived in darkness” where she did not feel the presence of God with her…there were times that she felt abandoned and forgotten by God. If St. Mother Teresa would have followed these emotions and feelings that she was having, would she have been able to pray, sacrifice, and love? Would she have been able to serve the people that she served? I would argue that if St. Mother Teresa would have only followed her emotions and feelings, she would have been so stuck on herself, her feelings of emptiness and pain. However, she did NOT follow the darkness of her feelings and emotions, but willfully followed Jesus no matter how she felt!! She followed Christ…she kept her eyes on Jesus and became a great saint!
So what can be done if we find ourselves only seeking consolations in our spiritual practices?
- Ask God to purify our motivation for why we are engaging these practices. Make it known in the beginning, “Lord this is for you.”
- Try to do things in the day that you do not particularly like such as taking out the garbage, or washing the dishes. Offer up these things to the Lord for someone you would like to pray for. Try to do these things with a smile on your face, saying, “Lord this is for you.” This will prepare you well when times of dryness and darkness come into your prayer.
- KEEP PRAYING!!! Don’t stop praying! Even if you feel darkness creep in. God wants our love for Him to mature and deepen…He wants our hearts on Him and not on the consolations. So keep praying and do not lose heart!
So what do we learn from this? We must not seek to do our spiritual exercises with a view to seeking our own gratification and satisfaction through them. If we do receive gratification and satisfaction through them, then that itself is a gift from God; however, we are called to seek the Lord first! If we are seeking the Lord, no matter how we feel, then we are on a good path and we are carrying our crosses with joy!