18 July 2009


Today’s reading in the Rule of Benedict is chapter 39, “The Proper Amount of Food.” It begins, “For the daily meals, whether at noon or in midafternoon, it is enough, we believe, to provide all the tables with two kinds of cooked food because of individual weaknesses. In this way, the person who may not be able to eat one kind of food may partake of the other.” We may think, “Wow! Two different kinds of cooked food! What a buffet!” Still, in the 6th century, most people would have felt differently about it than we in the 21st century.

In the second paragraph, Benedict says, “Should it happen that the work is heavier than usual, the abbot or prioress may decide—and they will have the authority—to grant something additional, provided that it is appropriate, and that above all overindulgence is avoided, lest anyone experience indigestion. For nothing is so inconsistent with the life of any Christian as overindulgence. Our God says: ‘Take care that your hearts are not weighted down with overindulgence (Lk 21:34).’”

Overindulgence takes many forms. I’m not tempted so much by overeating and drinking. (Although the spiritual practice of fasting isn’t at the top of my list!) And it’s easy for me to display the image of the person addicted to shopping. One of my overindulgences, however, deals with how I jealously regard my time. I’ve always been one to value “my” time. And while we all need to have “our” time respected, we have to remember that even time is a gift from God.

When we forget that, we realize that we’re wasting time…which means, we’re wasting our lives.

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