The Death of Complacency (and the Birth of Celebration!)

Jesus is raised! Alleluia!

Let the Easter feasting begin!

This past weekend was a big one for my family. My daughter turned one on Good Friday, and let me tell you, she was an awfully fussy birthday girl after fasting for twenty-four hours. Talk about wailing and grinding teeth. Sheesh.

I’m kidding. We didn’t make our baby fast.

But we did hold her party off until Saturday. I guess if we were doing things 100% on the Catholic up and up, we would have waited until Sunday or some other time altogether so as not to celebrate while Jesus was, you know, descending into hell on our behalf, but we wanted a day for our little girl and another day to celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection, and with family in from out of town, it all had to happen on one weekend. So be it.

It was a great weekend. But now it’s over.

After cleaning the house and then sleeping off the meat-sweats, today I awoke and turned my attention to polishing off the leftovers. I recently finished off the dish of strawberry pretzel salad, which is my favorite of all salads and which you need to immediately include in your future holiday celebrations if you don’t already, and upon completion, I had to stop and take a deep breath. I hadn’t eaten that much in a while.

Between Lent and my marathon training (t-minus one week until race day!), I have been trying to watch what and how much I eat. Other than St. Patrick’s Day, which is like a family reunion every year for my clan, I hadn’t let loose much in the last two months, which is unusual for me. My eating habits are just now getting any attention from me as far as attempts to develop virtue go; I’m finally (hopefully for good) moving past the whole “must-not-commit-mortal-sins-all-the time” phase of the spiritual life to “must-start-doing-good-things-not-just-avoiding-bad” part. Which is nice.

But what this Easter weekend showed me is how much better the feasting was when I allowed it to be a feast.

As I got older, my three-squares-a-day morphed into one continuous snack-time. Meals were no longer discernible at all. Rolls were forming under my shirt. Pants weren’t fitting. It was bad.

And the worst part was, I wasn’t even enjoying my meals as much. There was no sense of anticipation, no sense of relief at having the chance to set hunger aside for a bit, but rather an ever-present mix of shame and food-lust that I hadn’t ever really even tried to control.

When I was younger, I never thought twice about what I ate because I was always playing sports and staying fit. But as an adult, I found myself not only facing the spiritual repercussions of my eating habits, but the physical ones too.

Judging by the way I worked over that pan of strawberry pretzels, I still have a long way to go to develop temperance with food. But at least I got to enjoy my Easter feast! At least the small bit of detachment I gained recently allowed me a truer sense of appreciation of the goodness in that salad and the brisket and the deviled eggs and the cheesy potatoes. Oh, the cheesy potatoes.

Of course, we know that the terror of sin is not just that it can cause our eternal damnation; it’s that it steals the joys of this life as well. My gluttony was probably not so serious or out of control as to endanger the state of my soul (although, as Escriva says, “Gluttony is the forerunner of impurity”), but it was enough to endanger the state of my meals.

Now, I firmly believe Goodness exists of its own accord, and we don’t need evil (which is nothing in and of itself but just a lack of good) to appreciate the Good. But we do need detachment. There is no earthly good I know of with which we can always be satiated and still maintain an appreciation and taste for that good. It’s not possible.

I hope you had a good Lent. I hope you grew more detached from your pleasures and more attached to your Lord. I made some progress, little though it might be, and it once again reminded me of the beauty of the lush Easter lands that wait beyond the little deserts of our lives.

This entry was posted in Catholicism, Detachment, Goodness, Holiness, Sin. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Death of Complacency (and the Birth of Celebration!)

  1. Tyler says:

    Shane, I am fascinated with the concept of evil (and how it relates to Goodness) that you mention here and I have some follow up clarification questions. I’m understanding that what you believe is that evil is not an objectively existing entity that exists within and around certain persons, things, actions, and ideas (an entity that could be called Evil). I’m also understanding that what you believe is that evil, since it is nothing, is not a quality of or part of certain persons, things, actions, and ideas.

    In summary, evil is not anything, but a lack of something (this something being Goodness). What I’m understanding is that since evil is nothing, evil does not exist. Evil cannot exist. The description ‘evil’ is a word that describes nothing. Evil does not exist as a transcendental entity that objectively exists within and around certain persons, things, actions, and ideas. Nor does evil exist merely as a quality of or part of certain persons, things, actions, and ideas.

    Is this what you believe?

  2. Tyler says:

    Shane, can I solicit you for an affirmation or clarification to my question about the nature of evil?

    • T…Sorry I’m slow on the uptake. To put it briefly, we believe evil is much the same as darkness. A place is not dark because “darkness” has invaded it; rather, it is dark because there is an absence of light. Nothing has taken light’s place; it is simply not there. Evil is much the same. It is an absence of good. Murder is “evil” because it lacks the good of a proper value for human life. Adultery is evil because it lacks the good of sexual fidelity. Now, we do believe there are some beings that “are evil”, i.e. Satan and his demons, because they have chosen to sever themselves from the source of all good, God.

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