Monday, April 10, 2006
Dear Communion of Saints: Like Carob for Chocolate?
Today we begin a occasional feature called "Dear Communion of Saints." The idea is to pose hot button theological questions of the day to the saints above and see who answers it and how. Occasionally more than one saint wants to get in the act. Please send any questions you may want answered (and I use that verb loosely) to IronicCatholic(at)yahoo(dot)com. I apologize in advance for not getting to all two questions quickly. Note we're still doing satire here! Right? Get it?
I resolved to give up chocolate for Lent and am having a hard time of it in this last week. I stopped by the local co-op and bought some carob to eat instead. Was this a sin? Or even a breaking of my Lenten fast?--Elizabeth
St. Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church, responds: First, dear sister in Christ, let me tell you: I ate pus for the greater glory of God and you're whining about foregoing chocolate for a measly six weeks? I think you need to rethink your priorities.
Second, what was your motive in eating carob? I mean, seriously, who craves carob? The motive is the heart of the sin, and if you broke your fast in full knowledge, deliberately turning away from God's goodness, then yes, you committed a sin. And if carob is truly a substitute for chocolate, you broke the Lenten fast.
There are a lot of problems presented here: is eating carob sinful and an excellent example of natural law, where the disorderness of the act is "written" into the natural realm (eating carob is wrong, this is clear because it is disgusting)? Indeed, is eating the carob arguably a punishment in itself, the consequence hinting at the crime?
Although the above consideration does have theological appeal, I would argue that eating carob instead of chocolate is actually a penitential practice (not quite in the "eating pus" league, but it will do). Given it does not taste like chocolate and causes disappointment, disgust, and general revulsion, one should credit it to the asceticism of the liturgical season and move on with a repentant heart. God bless.
Next time: Thomas Aquinas responds.