October 27, 2015

Heavy

Lately things have been coming together to try to shake me out of my denial regarding my weight problem. Not that it's anything new; I've had a weight problem, sometimes worse, sometimes better, for about thirty-five years.

But lately, what I think what has always been an emotional difficulty, namely my overeating, seems to me also a spiritual block. And I'm hoping that this realization is the Providence that will help me to do something about it. Not that I haven't tried to do anything before; I have had periods of regular exercise as an adult, as well as some interesting nutritional experiments in the late 90s and early 00s. Nevertheless, especially since entering the Capuchins, the weight gain has been steady. I estimate that since I entered the Capuchins fifteen years ago, I have gained fifty pounds. And I wasn't so thin when I entered either.

He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. (Luke 1:53)

I pray those words every single day during Evening Prayer, in Mary's Magnificat. If on account of my overeating I never experience hunger, how can I hope for the grace that Mary sings? If I am never hungry, how can I identify with, pray well for, or hope to serve the poor with whom I have supposedly united myself by my vow of poverty?

The hegumen of a monastery asked Abba Poemen, “How can I acquire the fear of God?” Abba Poemen said to him, “How can we acquire the fear of God when our belly is full of cheese and preserved foods?”

Indeed. And yet one of the graces of my current situation is that living with the friars in Italy is generally a better nutritional situation than living with the friars in the States. So I pray to take advantage of that.

So I ask your prayers in responding to the graces I have described, that I might finally address, gently and well, the physical issue and spiritual block of my weight problem. I thought of starting a whole new blog about it, but maybe not. This blog has been about all sorts of different things, so why not this? I would appreciate your thoughts on the question of a new blog or not.

18 comments:

Silvana rscj said...

Don't start a new blog unless you really want to give yourself the added pressure of keeping it fed (and the wordplay is intentional) with progress reports. Your weight is one aspect of you and your life, as are your prayer, work, vocation story, being Franciscan etc; they are all interwoven and part of the whole. So put your weight in its place within the grand scheme of your life, and don't give it the status of a blog all for itself!

Jen said...

Bro. Charles,

I've been a longtime reader, but never commented before. Last April, my overeating finally brought me to my knees and left me begging God for help. He led me to Overeaters Anonymous, where I've begun to learn that my problems are emotional, mental, physical...but most importantly, spiritual. In that fellowship, and with a strong Spiritual Director, well-versed in both orthodox Catholicism and the 12 steps, I am recovering one day at a time. I have released 30 pounds so far, but much more important, I have owned my brokenness, made amends, and found healing in the most surprising places.

I still struggle with the temptation to overeat. I may always struggle with that. And some days, my abstinence is a little sloppy. But, every day, I have my Lord, my program, my sponsor, and my husband to lean on when I'm struggling.

My heart is with you. I know the pain you have deep inside. But, please remember...you are a precious child of our loving and merciful God, and He desires most your healing and wholeness.

I will hold you in my prayers, and will offer my struggles and temptations for your healing. May God bless you abundantly. It takes great courage to admit where we are broken. I admire your willingness to do so publicly.

If you do decide to start a new blog, please let us know in this one. I get your feed in my reader, and would like to continue following you in your journey.

God bless, my brother in Christ,
Jen in St Louis

Brother Charles said...

Silvana and Jen: Thank you so much for the beautiful comments and encouragement!

Judy Kallmeyer said...

Dear Father Charles,

I have not checked in with you for a very long time. How odd that I would pick today to do so. But maybe not odd at all. For I share that overweight thing with you. And you know me well enough to know that I had the problem while you were here in the States. But the problem is harder now since my mobility has decreased due to the MS and trying to stick to a diabetic diet has become more difficult since those products called "no sugar added" are usually sweetened with sorbitol and maltitol which do a number on my insides. So I am working on portion control. I have an inordinate love for ice cream so I have started buying dixie cups instead of the 2 quart sizes that I was buying. It helps. But I know how difficult it is. I wish I could exercise, but I have enough trouble just walking at this point. Know that I will be praying for you as you move to "move a mountain." We both need that mustard seed faith that will enable us to say to that mountain "move from here to there" or in our case "be leveled to the ground."

Be of good cheer, the Lord is with you and will surely come to your aid in this struggle, and it is a struggle, I know.

In His Heart,
Judy

Brother Charles said...

Thanks, Judy. And thanks for checking in!

kam said...

I haven't checked in for months and when I do, I read of your problematic vice is similar to mine. I have been overweight most of my life. The only time I had my problem under control was in my thirties and exercise helped to keep me fit. Now, with knee, hip and shoulder filled with arthritis any serious workout regime is out of the question. I, like you, have a spiritual side of the equation also; being a Third Order Franciscan is the guilt I feel for not keeping my temple in tip top shape for our Lord. Hopefully reading your words I will be encouraged to really buckle down and to SINCERELY ask our Mother for Her help in this struggle. I will keep you in my prayers. keith

Brother Charles said...

Thanks for the comment and thanks for your prayers!

Judy Kallmeyer said...

P.S. I don't think that you need to start a new blog. All of your friends will want to keep up with your journey and be able to support you as much as we can.

P.P.S. Right now, I am more concerned with getting my spiritual life back in order. After a long and arduous search since you left "The Heart" I have finally found a good spiritual director, one of our Salesians here at the Shrine. I am so grateful! I have also made anew friend, who just happens to be a Secular Franciscan in formation. We actually graduated from the same college in the same year and had not seen each other since. We both were doing volunteer work for the Sisters of Life with whom I got involved when they were on McLean Avenue in Yonkers. Now they have relocated their Motherhouse to Suffern, NY,not too far from me. I hope to do some more volunteering in the next two months and my new friend has offered to provide transportation for me, God bless her! I must tell you that I am so impressed with the Sisters of Life. They are full of life, and probably the happiest and most exuberant, outgoing and warm consecrated women I have ever met. Cardinal O'Connor must be very proud of them and I am sure that he is guiding them from his place in the Kingdom. Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, who founded the congregation with him, is a marvelous woman, extremely bright and a true mother to her Sisters. I admire her greatly.

End P.P.S

Judy

Barb Szyszkiewicz said...

I wish you well. And by that I mean good health. I look forward to what you will have to say about the spiritual side of this struggle as I suspect I have something to learn there!

rhinokitchen said...

I have lost 70 pounds with diet and exercise. It hasn't been easy. My thoughts are with you.

Terry Nelson said...

Prayers for you Father. Every night I'll pray and each day remember you in my rosary.

Brother Charles said...

Thank you!

Roger Bryant said...

Being a type I diabetic, I've been 'strongly encouraged' to watch what I eat more carefully. A dietician and/or a physician can be a good help in weight loss. It all starts with the little things. A little bit here. A little bit there. It all adds up.

Brother Charles said...

Little things. Yes. Thank you!

Ruby Louise said...

I agree with the others. An extra blog doesn't seem necessary. It seems to me that weight and weight loss fit within the bounds of "Rants and Ramblings of a Brother in Christ". So, as you put it yourself--why not?

Sending hugs and prayers....

Brother Charles said...

Thanks for your prayers!

From George said...

Overeating can be a sign that your body is not absorbing nutrients, and you need to reset your digestion. There is a great site called Lifespa run by a Dr Douillard (in Colorado) who does phone consultations (maybe Skype from Italy!) and has studied Ayurveda which respects the different body types and how to deal with digestion problems. He has always helped me and he takes into account ones medical history which in your case includes asthma...maybe this would help. His site is down at the moment, for maintenance I think but give it a look when you can.

Brother Charles said...

Thanks for the tip! Thanks to the Republic to Italy, which has been willing to buy me Advair, I have almost no asthma symptoms. My immediately previous insurer was not so generous.