Originally posted on June 24, 2008:
In this month’s Faith and Family magazine, there is a feature where readers tell how they avoid unhealthy eating. There was a brief suggestion from a mother that supplied all the answer this section needed. She said that when tempted to have a fattening dessert, she offers it up to God as a sacrifice for her intentions for her children. I have never met this woman, but I need to know no more of her to know her soul and what kind of mother she is.
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen gave words of wisdom in one of his lectures on the conquering of addiction. He said, paraphrasing, to overcome any addiction, you must "force it" out of your psyche by replacing it with something just as consuming. Such words of wisdom and no psychiatrist payment needed.
This woman's offering up a desired want for the prayerful intention of her children meant more to her than the pleasure that a dessert would bring. Her love for her children conquered and "forced out" her temptation to eat.
In this Sheen counseling lies the reason why so many diets fail. The dieter starts with the best intentions in the first of the month, but the uncontrollable craving to eat remains and is allowed to run freely within their psyche unchecked. Nothing has forced this addiction out. It is patiently lurking in the wings and waiting to arise and conquer again.
One of my heroes of this world, Msgr. James McDonald - now rector of Long Island’s seminary - once addressed the addiction of alcohol in a Sunday homily. He passionately and in a booming voice told the congregation, "Don’t tell me you can’t put down that drink when Christ thirsted for you on the cross!" Msgr. McDonald was coming at the same angle as Archbishop Sheen. Your love of Christ and gratitude of his suffering can push out that addiction.
My grandfather was a very good man but an alcoholic. He never harmed anyone but was his own worse enemy with his drinking problem. When my siblings and I were very small children, my father told my grandfather that we could not ride in his car, spend time with him, because of my father’s obvious concerns. As the story goes after this difficult conversation, my grandfather quit cold turkey. Not one more drop. His love for his grandchildren was more consuming than his drinking problem. The last few years of his life were spent sober, and this is how he went home to God.
We are all imperfect people, with shortcomings and addictions. How much progress would we make towards Divine Grace if those parents with addictions (alcoholism, smoking, drugs, sex, anger-management, gambling, over-eating, shopping, gossiping, etc...) offered their pain in denying their personal addiction up to God with the specific intention that Christ would protect their children in the future from acquiring the same addiction? How could the loving heart of Christ not accept an offering so beautiful, noble and selfless? How could we not eventually succeed in conquering any addiction through this act of love?