Food is sacred
“Supersize it.” If one, six-dollar burger is good, two is better, and best of all when they are on sale, two for ten dollars! We love to eat. Can you imagine a Sunday morning at St. Joseph’s without donuts? Impossible. I’m glad Myrna takes care of the donuts every Sunday morning around here! Food is essential for human life. But why, then, is food the number one killer in America? Heart disease, due almost entirely to overeating or eating the wrong kinds of foods, is our number one cause of death in America. Actually, food is a sacred gift, and so the abuse of this sacred gift is seriously harmful.
Jesus shows us how to eat
Jesus shows us how to properly order our appetite for food. Consider the Last Supper: Jesus took a little bread, and a little wine. Both are natural, wholesome foods. And this is what we do at Mass: a little bread, a little wine, which is really the very body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus.
How we worship is how we should eat, because food is sacred.
Our market-driven culture teaches us to consume. We are told that food, as much and as often as we can get it, makes us happy. As with all lies, there is a kernel of truth in this: food does make us happy, but in right proportion. Too much food, or the wrong kind of food, makes us bloated, heavy, depressed, and ultimately kills us with every disease from diabetes to cardiac failure.
To be genuinely happy, we must discipline ourselves, as Jesus did. He took only a little baked fish (not fried fish!). He chastised his body; he restrained his appetites. He told his clueless disciples that the Christ had to suffer, and then rise from the dead on the third day.” First, self-denial, then, resurrection. There is no love without discipline, without sacrifice. Our Mass, the central act of worship, is a sacrificial meal, a restrained meal. If you want to be happy, always leave the table a little hungry.
Sex is sacred
Food is one of two human appetites which we must discipline. The other is … I will use a discretionary word … the other is “relations.” Human beings eat to sustain the body, and human beings have relations to sustain the race. We have been taught in our post-Christian society that, just as we need to eat early and often to be happy, so we need to have sexual relations whenever and however we get that “feeling.” This falsehood has resulted in great damage, from an epidemic of sexually-transmitted diseases to marriage and family devastation. Again, there is no real love without discipline, without sacrifice. Food is sacred. Sex is sacred. Because sex is sacred, its abuse is seriously harmful.
Jesus shows us how to love
Jesus and His Church show us how to order our sexual appetites for true and lasting happiness. First, we should not engage in anything even leading to the marital act before we are married. Sex outside of the covenant is just junk food. It only briefly satisfies and eventually makes us sick. Second, we should not make love to our spouses that is not open to the transmission of human life. In other words, the Church has always and everywhere, from the first century, condemned artificial contraception. You may not believe me now, but it is becoming more obvious to everyone, that the social problems of our time began with the pill in the 1950s. At this point, in 2012, we are utterly confused about sexual identity and purpose, but how did we get to this point? By ignoring the Church’s constant teaching that marital relations must be naturaland open to life every time.
Natural Family Planning
There is a small but growing group of people who teach this truth, not only in classrooms but in their marriages, in their flesh. Those who teach natural family planning—a natural, “green,” sustainable and healthy means of planning children. The contraceptive industry mocks natural family planning, because they can’t make any money on it. The sexual revolution gurus mock NFP because it requires discipline. But NFP restores sacredness and depth to lovemaking. Those who practice NFP have a virtually zero divorce rate. They are happier, healthier, and more fulfilled in their relational lives. They don’t inject artificial drugs into their bodies, or frustrate natural human acts of love.
All of us have bought into the lies both about eating and about sex. We all engage in gluttony and impurity to some degree. The good news is that it’s never too late. “My children,” writes St. John in the second reading, “I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin. But if you do sin, we have Jesus Christ, our Advocate.” Peter says it even more boldly in the First reading: “You denied the Holy and Righteous one; the Author of life you put to death….But I know brothers, that you acted out of ignorance.” We have bought into the lie; we have been ignorant. But we can learn from our mistakes. Jesus said to the apostles: “Peace be with you. Why are you troubled?” We are troubled because we are trying to order our lives apart from Christ and his Church. We can turn back to the Church at any time, and begin the process of purification. It is not easy to change bad habits. But we can begin the process, at any time, by fully accepting what Christ and his Church teaches us.