Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Our Lady of Sorrows

I haven't had much time lately to write.  Between Volley Ball, Color Guard, Band Practices, picking up and dropping off for school, ministry duties, and Diaconate studies and meetings (while still trying
to make sure to keep a healthy balance of time for my wife and children as my primary vocation) I just haven't had a moment to sit down and write.  I felt the need strongly today to do so.

Today is the Memorial for Our Lady of Sorrows.  That day when we recognize the pain and suffering that Our Blessed Mother went through as she stood at the foot of the cross.  Simeon phrased it well when inspired by the Holy Spirit  proclaimed in the presence of Our Lord and Lady, “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel,and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.”  (Luke 2:34-35) Today as I have gone through my morning prayerfully and considered the images and thoughts that have been put in my path, my mind is drawn back to a blog I wrote a few years ago.

A while back I had been convicted about my weight.   Not in the "you are the temple of the Lord" way that many of our Christian brothers and sisters use to encourage health (one I agree with to an extent.)  (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)  Rather I felt the need to think about my food choices in relationship to how many calories I was consuming in my comfortable first world home, while there were people starving in other countries.  At the time I was beginning to read many more books about a healthy
vegan diet vs an unhealthy one loaded with fat and Oreo cookies.  I also began to look at how heavy I had gotten.  

At my heaviest point I was 380 lbs.  That's roughly 180-200 lbs more than I should weigh according to which chart/doctor you go with.  I started wondering, what does that mean in terms of food consumed?   Well most science agrees today that it takes 3500 extra calories to gain a pound of fat.  That means (not counting all the times I had lost weight and gained it back, in a vicious cycle of indulgence) that I had consumed somewhere near 700,000 extra calories that I did not need. Wow, I thought to myself.. that's a huge number... but how can I express that in a meaningful way?  How can I express that in a way that means something?  A big number just means I had too much, I already knew that. 

So I wondered, how many calories does it take to feed one of these starving children you see in the commercials on TV.  You know the ones with Sarah McLachlan singing "In the Arms of an Angel"
in the background?  That would give me something concrete, a face to put with a number so to speak.. or faces.   So I looked into it. Somewhere over 1500 calories a day.  That's just to keep from starving.  That means for every pound I have gained, I could have feed a child for nearly two days.   At my heaviest I had literally eaten enough food to feed a starving child for over a year!  How much shame that brings to my heart.

Jesus Christ tells us in one of his may parables, a parable Mother Teresa mentioned in a very succinct and profound statement, " "At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done.  We will be judged by "I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in."    (Based on Mathew 25:31-46)  What does this have to do with starving children and Our Lady of Sorrows? 

Well, our Lady stood at the foot of the cross of Salvation and watched her own child dying a horrible, painful death.   Then as He, the God of the universe, was losing his life;  he turned and gave His mother to His beloved disciple.   You and I are that beloved disciple.   Mary is our mother, Mary is their mother.  We are all part of the body of Christ.   When that child is laying, dying of thirst and hunger in some foreign country; Christ and the Body of Christ, including the blessed Mother are there.  We are in some way responsible for that.  We who do not reach out and feed, clothe and visit those children in need.   They are bearing their cross, and she stands at the foot of it in Sorrow for their agony.  

Whatever we do for the least of these.... doesn't that mean that we should at least consider, at least have the conversation of what our food choices are doing to others in this world?  We sit here feeding thousands of pounds of grain to one animal, to make a $.99 hamburger.. instead of taking those grains and feeding those starving children.   We eat our twinkies, drink our coffee, and celebrate so many festivities, sports events, holidays, birthdays, etc at the drop of a hat.. often with much food waste and excess gluttony.   By making simple choices and then using the extra to feed the rest of the world, we can make a difference. 

Does everyone have to give up all treats? No.   Yet, it should not only be during Lent that we

consider taking part of our money and feeding someone else.  It should not only be during Lent that we make a change to our coffee and put the extra money in a CRS rice bowl or send it to Feed Em Soup.  No Lent is a time for change.. permanent change.   We are supposed to continue those changes throughout the year.  

All Saints day is coming.  Thanksgiving will soon be upon us. Advent is coming in 10 weeks.  Then Christmas before you know it.   This year let's consider making all of these times not just a time for personal celebration, but also a time of cheerful giving.  A time in which we sacrifice a little of our excess (maybe even going as far as not just giving from the excess but from the normal day to day) and then take the extra and give it away.  Let's look for ways to improve our world.  One step at a time.  One child at a time.  Even one bite at a time.

In Christ,