Thursday, March 12, 2015

Spirituality: “Saying ‘No’ to a Chocolate Chip Cookie” by Father John Henry, S.J.

One evening, not so long ago, a chocolate chip cookie taught me a wonderful lesson.

I am not forced to eat every one I see. Sometimes it may be good not to dip into the cookie jar. My doctor told me that. But besides the calorie count, it can relate to Lenten fasting, a special training time for our relationship with God.

Here’s a true learning experience I had recently with a cookie jar. After dinner and some TV time, on my way upstairs to my room, I would always pass by the cookie jar in the kitchen and take a chocolate chip cookie, even though I wasn’t hungry.

It is an enjoyable habit. The calories have never been on my mind. It’s natural. You see the cookie jar and you instinctively take one. And the cookie jar is never empty. It’s on top of the shopping list.

But this particular evening I consciously said “No” to the cookie jar and started upstairs to get ready for bed. Suddenly, midway up the stairs, I felt good, a special victorious joy as if I had won a contest over an enemy.

I had conquered that delicious cookie. I overcame my stomach’s appetite for something I really didn’t need. I wasn’t hungry after dinner and dessert.

From that night on, I haven’t even thought of eating a cookie. I simply pass it by and have one less addiction in my life.

What’s the big lesson?

I began to be more conscious of daily controlling my appetites. My brain and will power are stronger than my appetites and desires. If not, I am in trouble.

The pleasant victory night as I made my Examen Prayer I pondered over my spiritual life with regard to fasting and abstinence, two very important aspects of spiritual life training (of course it also has something to do with health).

My spiritual life needs control, to dominate my passions, desires, and appetites. And each victorious “No” brings satisfaction to my heart, and I feel good.

Why did my “No” to that cookie make me feel good? It wasn’t a stunning victory, but it made me think more deeply of fasting and abstinence.

Lent is here and we are asked by the Church to give up some pleasures.

My love for the Lord, walking with him in his passion, does demand sacrifice. It is necessary to learn to conquer my natural craving. That uneaten cookie taught me what fasting and mortification are about.

Saying “No” to enticing desires and appetites puts me in training for the moment of big decisions. That uneaten cookie made me happy about myself. I command my desires and appetites.

Finally, I must say, “Yes” to sacrifices that help others who need some loving care. That’s better. It’s a wonderful challenge.

Source: The A.D. Times, (Newspaper of the Allentown (PA) Diocese), March 20, 2014, page 11.