Obesity, Gluttony, And Christianity.

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An article on the generally good (for what I can read) Crisis magazine states some rather preposterous things, like the rhetorical question whether we should have asked St Thomas Aquinas to exercise more. Once again, the Western society is so secularised that it does not even get how much it has lost the sense of faith.  

St Thomas Aquinas was a great saint, and a man of extremely strong will (the episode of him being locked in a room in the family’s castle, and the other famous episode with the prostitute introduced therein to persuade him to abandon his plans to become a priest, are abundant demonstrations of it). The man wasn’t your run-of-the-mill saint, who might be heroic in fighting temptations but is often overcome by it. All we know of him tells us this was a ferociously disciplined man, and a man of both overflowing holiness and overflowing intelligence. It is simply preposterous to think that he would not have his appetite for food, or any other of his appetites, under control. Whilst the man was certainly big (as abundantly reported, in very colourful words, by one who was demonstrably very fat, G.K. Chesterton, and (cough…) very probably never met the man in person), it is plain dumb to think he would sit in front of just another real (not dumb) ox and would be unable to restrain his food intake. I am not informed about the daily diet of the man, but elementary sensus catholicus tells me this: if the man had seen a serious problem in his eating habits you can bet your last shirt he would have starved himself to Obama levels all right. Those ones weren’t the times, and that one wasn’t the man, to take the sin of gluttony lightly. In the man’s case, I can’t avoid thinking he considered his less than attractive physical appearance a blessing in disguise, a lesson in humility, and in general a help to a saintly life.  Even the tale of the “ox” might have been vastly exaggerated, as in the middle of thin people you become an “ox” much more rapidly than among the “minorities” in, say, 2017’s London (ask me how I know). 

Alas, modern times are stupid. People don’t understand anymore than once upon a time, people behaved (and believed) in a far more intelligent manner than today; that they had a great fear of the Lord and a very keen sense of sin; and that they might have perceived as very sinful what many later saw as venial sin or not a sin at all.

There, we already have out of the way the first platitude of the day: Saints weren’t gluttons, period. If they were big, of even fat for ancient standards (certainly much different from the disgusting accumulation of big fat waves of people unable or almost unable to walk in their Thirties or even Twenties we see today), it was because the Lord in His wisdom had decreed so, but heroic virtue can’t live together with stuffing one’s pie hole to the point of disgusting obesity.

He who tells you otherwise is destroying in front of you the concept of heroic virtue, trying to persuade you that you might be a saint in the making, or trying to make you believe sinners who actually kept sinning all their lives went straight to heaven.

Famously, Padre Pio ate almost nothing, and it was clear his rounded figure was a straight demonstration for all living around him that he was sustained by God. But Padre Pio wasn’t obese in any of the sense commonly used today. He was a well-rounded man, like a Pius IX or a JP II; and this as he was aging, again *almost without even eating*. There was, most certainly, no hint of gluttony in him, as there could be no succumbing to a deadly sin if there is to be heroic virtue.   

Which leads us to the crux of the matter: gluttony.

Saint Thomas Aquinas, and many sensible people of his and of all ages, would not eat too much simply because of the sinfulness of the habit.  A concept, this (the sin of gluttony), that has all but disappeared in an age which wants to justify and “scientifically” explain everything, from sexual perversion to evil tendencies to morbid obesity. 

I grew up in Italy, in a time when the concept of gluttony was alive and kicking. I have seen people berated, humiliated in front of everyone because of their gluttony. I have seen ridicule, mockery and outright condemnation surround them, from children and adult alike, and I am talking of people who in today’s US would not even attract attention. I have not seen many people who were fat for half-moderate US standards, and I have seen none (zero, zilch, nada, nothing. Not.A.Single.One.) that were fat in the way millions of US and UK teenagers and young adults are fat today. 

Now, sensible societies always had a sensible approach to the matter. Older people and some ugly women were allowed to verge on the fat. Provided they remained able to conduct their daily life, walk, work, go up stairs, play with their children, people were not considered gluttons. Wise men like Cicero are often portrayed as portly. Saintly men like Pius IX certainly were. Omo de Panza (man of belly) meant, in Catholic Sicily, the man’s man, the manly man. But every sensible person must see the difference between the famous actor Aldo Fabrizi in his old-ish age (pictured above; pretty much as fat as it went in those years) and people forced to go around in a wheelchair in their thirties, or who are about to massacre their knees in their twenties, because they just can’t stop eating.  There has always been a distinction between a natural roundness, particularly with age, and disordered obesity, particularly at a young age. Everyone could pick the difference. Everyone understood the difference between what is reasonable and what isn’t. Everyone felt free to condemn the latter. 

Don’t tell me it was “cruel”. I won’t have any of that sensitive faggot shit. It worked. Therefore it was salutary, not cruel.  Now we have people dying in what should have been their prime, and after having attracted on themselves all kind of disease and discomfort for many years; but we are too stupid – or too sensitive in that faggoty way mentioned above – to tell them to **eat the Obama less and exercise the Obama more**, and in case (money allowing; no, not necessary) invest in a dietologist that might make things even better, or faster, or smarter for them. Much less we tell them gluttony is a sin. No: nowadays people with $1,000 smartphones die of junk food, gluttony and utter stupidity, but woe to the one who tells them some straight facts about life.

Let their stupidity kill them instead. Don’t you know it’s the sensitive thing to do?

No sense of sin. No common sense. No desire to improve the lot of other people if it makes us, or them, feel “uncomfortable”. It’s no surprise people seriously ask (and be it in a rhetorical way) whether a great saint should have been asked to eat less and exercise more.

We need to go back to the basics. We need to understand that 1) a strong religious feeling and 2) strong societal condemnation are extremely effective weapon in the “war on fat”, an expression unknown in those Countries who had 1) and 2). 

As St Thomas Aquinas very well knew, Gluttony is a deadly sin.

That’s all you need to know. 

M  

 

 

 

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Posted on February 9, 2017, in Traditional Catholicism. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Mundy.Back to the Basics indeed.This is the crux of the problem today.Only a week ,or two,ago i criticised a Priest who was reluctant to say to young people that to miss Mass on a Sunday,or Holy Day of Obligation on purpose,was a Mortal Sin!He prevaricated by saying that young people don’t understand the words,concepts,of Catholic sense of sin, so to say that they are in Mortal sin means nothing to them.I was not happy with his stance-all so common in Nu-Church-and told him so.So let people get fat,let people smoke pot ,or some other filth ,and watch them be obese!Not to tell people about Mortal Sin brings danger to ones own Soul.Back to Basics indeed.Father agreed with me about what i said but still wouldn’t use my kind of-TRUE-language so as not to offend.

    • If mortal sin means nothing to people, then it is the damn job of the priest to explain it to them before telling them that they are just there. This priest is culpable of dereliction of duty.

  2. I think there are two types of obese people. The first are the poor and uneducated who maybe can only afford cheap calorie-dense foods such as rice, beans, tortillas, and soda. The second has money, but they live to eat rather than eat to live. They are probably not Catholics but, if they are, have probably not been taught about the seven deadly sins.

    Where I live (central CA) no one gives a second look even if someone is as big as a house. That would be so “judgemental” and simply not done. Freedom of expression and one’s feelings are paramount. Mr. M, I know it would never happen, but I would love to accompany you to my local Walmart at the end of a month just to get your reaction. It would be priceless, I’m sure! 😉 (motorized scooter alert). What you would see here would make average Brits look like the Royal family!

    • Heavens…
      yes, we see the motorised lazy asses here too. They all look like they are on the taxpayer’s dime, by the way, and wouldn’t move a facial muscle if an earthquake were to strike.

      The one of the man too poor to be thin is a legend. They are fat because they eat processed food. They eat processed food because they are lazy asses. Real food (potatoes, carrots, beans, broccolis, stuff like that) is extremely cheap if bought unprocessed.

      Next time you are at Walmart look at what the fattest people have in the shopping cart. It tells the whole tale.

      M

  3. From my readings of literature in the past, being called an “ox” didn’t mean you were fat, it meant you were strong and large. Fat people were usually referred to as indolent or just fat. If any animal metaphor was used, I would assume a pig would come into play. God bless~

    • Good point. I have also read the man was clumsy, which would also fir the “ox” narrative (in those times I doubt many people would say “elephant”).

  4. Back in the day people also had the decency not to encase themselves in spandex.

  5. A study of a national (US) grocery store chain said that over the course of a year, the most popular item bought with government food cards is soda. The most popular item bought with cash is milk. I found that interesting.

  6. Obesity is surely better than sexual obesity. It’s so mysterious that many saints were large and fat. Probably it’s a blessing for them became ugly appearance to repel off the sin of sexual attraction. Many monks have to cut their hair funny and convent nuns have to cover from heads to toes with unfashionable habits to protect themselves from world artificial light of temptation.

  7. Hearken diligently to me, and eat that which is good, and your soul shall be delighted in fatness.
    Isaias 55:2

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