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Br. Michael James Rivera, O.P.'s picture

Where is Your Heart?

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The Lord said to Moses, "Go down at once to your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt, for they have become depraved. They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them, making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it, sacrificing to it and crying out..." (Exodus 32:7-14)

This past week I was struck in a particular way by Fr. Augustine's reflection on the above passage. In his homily he spoke of two ways in which we as human beings fall into the sin of idolatry. The first way is rooted in our failure to recognize God's presence in our lives. More than a simple lack of thankfulness for God's mercy, this act often results in our forgetting the fact that our very existence is a gift from God. When we do so, we can become proud and supplant God's image with our own.

Admittedly this is not what we usually think of when we hear the word idolatry. Golden calves and graven images are what usually come to mind. Yet we must remember that making ourselves into gods is just as dangerous as worshiping idols made of silver and gold.

This, of course, is the other way in which we can practice idolatry. It is based on our tendency to turn all of our attention to worldly things. Nowadays these things are not usually molten calves that we bow down before in worship. They are often the trivial things we give all our free time and energy to, like television or surfing the web. Instead of focusing our minds and hearts on the Lord, we turn away from the path God has set before us. 

As I reflected on all these things at adoration that evening, it sparked a question: Where is my heart?

I am a little embarrassed to admit it, but at this point during Lent I would have to say that my heart is in my stomach. I'm hungry all the time, and constantly snacking between meals. My cravings have become almost insatiable, so much so that even foods I don't like call out to me, tempting me to indulge. Unfortunately this seems to be a perennial problem. Throughout my life I have struggled with the discipline of fasting, especially during Lent.

While I used to get upset about this, I'm starting to see it as a helpful thing. My obsession with food and eating is a reminder that my heart is not yet in the right place. My greater concern needs to be the kingdom of God, not my next meal. I have no doubt that the remaining weeks of Lent will be difficult. Self-control often is, especially when you are anxious about other things. But at least now I recognize the problem, and can turn to God and ask for help.

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