Posted by: wordofthevine | August 3, 2013

Gluttony and the Virtue of Purity

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I’m amazed when I contemplate the lives of holy people, how God touched them and moved in their lives and how they responded ever more fully to his overtures of love. Venerable Concepcion Cabrera is a woman that intrigues me, as you can probably tell! She was an ordinary woman in the world by outward standards, a wife, a mother, a friend and a member of her parish and community. Something that amazes me is that she responded to the grace of her vocation to find deep transforming union with God by wasting nothing. By cultivating the virtues and practicing a novel approach to practicing the presence of God, called loving attention to God, she experienced the rich abundance of God’s gifts and graces, including spiritual marriage and mystical incarnation. Mystical incarnation is a profound fulfillment of spiritual marriage that allowed her to communicate or birth Jesus in other souls. She gives me hope that marriage and life in the world can be a path to great holiness and becoming a Saint. She struggled with ordinary things but she learned moderation.

Venerable Conchita’s spiritual friend, Venerable Father  Felix Rougier, described perfection or virtuous living as the “prudent moderation of everything in the just middle ground.” We are to find our equilibrium in God and not be ruled by our own exaggerated needs.  Concepcion lived a prudent and balanced, normal life as a wife and mother. She did this by following the guidance of Jesus alive within her.

In fact, Jesus directed Venerable Concepcion or  “Conchita” for short, to practice with intention 14 aspects of virtuous living called the “Chain of Love” which we have been discussing in recent posts. Jesus shared with her dimension number two of the chain, “They must be pure of body and soul.” While to grow in virtue, and purity is no exception, we advance in virtue by “energetically and habitually exercising the virtue and by putting ourselves in situations rather intentionally where we most likely will have to practice the virtue. We also ask for the grace of practicing this holy pattern or virtue.

One vice that Conchita struggled with that hampered her purity of body and soul was gluttony. She really liked sweets and found it challenging to eat them in moderation once she started.  We see in her journal entries that she eventually succeeded in regulating her intake appropriately, but it seemed to remain something she needed to attend to through out her life. Conchita was very motivated to address this issue as she recognized (and the Our Lord pointed out to her) that gluttony, the inordinate pleasure and desire for food, can dampen enthusiasm for spiritual fulfillment. Gluttonous souls often experience cold dry prayer and decreased motivation to deny themselves for others.

Think about your own life. Do you struggle with over eating, drinking or media use? How is your prayer life, magnificent and rich or cold and dry? While an oscillation between desolation and consolations (cold difficult prayer and rich consoling prayer) is normal in the spiritual life, the key word is oscillation. If you struggle with persistent ongoing lethargic motivation for prayer that is cold and dry for long periods, examine your habits. If you struggle to moderate your consumption, even of licit things, take concrete steps to mortify or not give into these impulses to over consume. You may notice that you are more receptive to receive God in his fullness. ~Mary


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