A Catholic perspective on the world and all the good things therein, especially books and food. Literature cum chocolate is the order of the day at The Crockery.

Location: A Collegetown, Undisclosed Location, United States

No longer a graduate student, Teresa is now a professional know-it-all.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A Mortifying Question

If you get bored trying to wrap your head around the idea of "singing the Mass, rather than saying the Mass," here's something else to ponder. Ask yourself:

If I can’t resist something as inconsequential as a piece of chocolate, how am I going to be able to resist real temptation when it comes my way?

That's from Brian Pessaro's essay on corporal mortification, over at Godspy. Interesting essay. I'm sure this kind of thinking scares some people, in a "that's so unhealthy way."

I can tell you that it scares me in a "how can I be so self-indulgent?" way. Perhaps you all aren't quite the glutton I am, and so perhaps it doesn't mean that much to you, but such reminders of our need for this kind of simple self discipline are sobering to someone who came back from the last grocery store with pumpkin donuts, gourmet "chocolate truffle" coffee, and guacamole, all because it looked good. (Of course, that could just be a lesson on why the experts warn us never to go grocery shopping on an empty stomach, but for the purposes of this post we'll ignore that angle.) Maybe for a few days, this essay will strengthen my will, enabling me to resist an unnecessary late-night snack. But then I'll slip back to my usual ways. It happens all the time.

That, I think, is one of the things at the heart of this essay: the fact that discipline does us the most good when it is an actual part of our lives, not something picked up for a fad. We are to take up our cross daily, and daily rituals like Pessaro's cold shower are tools to help with that.

Tomorrow is Friday, a traditional day of penance. Many Christians will abstain from eating red meat tomorrow. Others will substitute some other form of abstinence. (I myself usually give up reading "fun" novels: only non-fiction or primary material from my time period is allowed.) But many more Christians will go about their usual schedule, either blissfully unaware of the observances traditionally attached to Fridays throughout the year, or under the impression that no one does that sort of thing anymore, and it isn't good for you, anyway.

What will you do?


Blogger La Mama Loca said...

It gets even worse when, as a parent, you realize you expect your children to exercise a degree of self-control over impulses (like candy, cookies, etc.) that you don't exercise yourself.

12:09 AM  
Anonymous Bob the Baker said...

Actually, and horribly, I usually intend to abstain from meat on Friday, but inevitably forget that it is Friday at some point. Bonus, lately we've been going over to my folks' house on Friday, and my Dad is rather strict about that rule.
But is abstaining from meat actually a sacrifice? Maybe a better sacrifice would be abstaining from all animal products, and olive oil too. Maybe I should be Eastern Catholic....

9:04 PM  

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