The Dessert Temptation

Is it time to write off the diet until the New Year? No! Father Nikola gives a Christian self-mastery 101 lesson.
by Father Nikola Derpich, L.C. | Source:
With Thanksgiving barely behind us and Christmas festivities still on, dietary danger is imminent: diets sent wobbling by Turkey day are toppling and in danger of being put on hold faster than you can close the books on your income tax year.

Is it time to write off the diet until the New Year? The painful reality so easily forgotten is that this New Year’s resolutions are probably the old year’s resolutions as well. Even if no turkeys had been harmed in the making of your diet, there’d still be gobbling going on.

Not many people would argue that the fruit cake would be easy to stave off (my apologies to those who have acquired a taste for them), but can any mortal withstand the Christmas hams and fudges and endless parade of sweets and treats after partaking of turk(ey)ish delights?

If it seems like a superhuman effort, that’s because it is, and that is a reason for hope, not despair: now is always the best time for a change of outlook and new strength for the healthy eating habits battle.

Many strategies have come and gone. Scarsdale dieted, Weight Watcher’s counted the calories (as they racked up), Atkins attacked the carbs, sugars were busted across the fruited plain (often by eating that very fruit), fats were declared unfit, and people pounded pavement, peddled, and paddled across land and sea, but only to succumb to sweet temptations.

The common denominator for all these failed attempts to put off the pounds is that they all focus on the body and not the spirit, and human beings are both.

In the battle of the bulge the buzzwords “willpower” and “health” and “self-esteem” and “appearance” play out into a thousand resolutions and good reasons to watch what you eat and to exercise, but well-intentioned self-preservation and sheer force of will are not enough. That is a lesson from Christian Self-Mastery 101.

Dietary discipline for yourself is not enough. It has to be done for others. The battle of the bulge is just another front in the battle for Christian self-mastery, and the same weapons are called for: denying yourself something out of love for God and love for souls.

Christmas reminds us that Our Savior was born in order to liberate us from our sins (caloric and otherwise) by denying himself for love of us. His emptying himself by becoming man is the inspiration and source of spiritual strength for emptying ourselves.

Now is the perfect time to show our gratitude, and cutting down on our food intake and exercising is the perfect way.

So when your stomach starts growling “feed me now!” in a guttural polyphonic voice that would make the Hollywood special effects gurus jealous, put those sweets at the foot of the manger instead. Share in the poverty of the Christ-child by passing on the seconds, and pass on them for someone you love. If you stumble, the Christ-child will remind you that God knows you can’t do it alone: He is always ready to help you with his grace and forgive you with his mercy.

Father Nikola Derpich, L.C., currently studies in Rome

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