Thursday, October 28, 2021


"Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from  evil."
from the Lord's Prayer

"I need to lose weight!" If I have said this once, I have said it to myself a million times since my last "new year's resolution." I am not hopelessly far from the weight I would love to be, but no matter how many "resolutions" I make, I keep failing to reach my desired goal! Often, I seem to be powerless over my intake of food especially in the evenings!  

Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) tells those addicted to alcohol that the first step to recovery is to be able to say, "I am an alcoholic!" That revolves around the truth that if you can name it, you can fix it. OK, let's cut to the chase! I do not have a drinking problem, but "I do have an eating problem!" 

Take Off Pounds Sensibly (T.O.P.S) used to tell those addicted to food that the first step to recovery is to be able to say, "It's not what you eat, it's what's eating you!" That revolves around the truth that if you can name why you eat so much, you can fix it. OK, let's cut to the chase! Being hungry may be near the bottom of the real reasons I eat most of the time! I realize that there could be something eating at me!

I may get around to admitting the real reasons why I eat when I am not really hungry, but I'll save that for the end of this essay. First, let me get this out of the way - my usual convenient list of people and situations that I conveniently blame for my weight gains.

(1) I have no problem most of the day resisting eating. My problem starts with dinner. Once I start eating, my eating becomes an "all you can eat buffet" till bedtime and sometimes beyond! I mostly blame TV food commercials that start about 5:00 pm every day. That's when I like to start watching TV and that's when I most often become a victim of the power of suggestion. I seem to be able to resist salty items like potato chips, pretzels, pizza and nuts, but cookies, candy, cake, ice cream, doughnuts and pastries are another story! If I had to pick my poison, it would be definitely be "sweets!"

(2) I blame the Kroger Company for building a store in my backyard! They have another Kroger store about two miles down the road on Poplar Level, so why did they have to build one just outside my back door other than to torture me? I can actually hear "sweet things" calling my name all day and most of the night! Even if I resist their flirting when I am in the store, it is just too easy not to walk back over after having "second thoughts" about that half-gallon of pistachio ice cream or that box of cherry turn-overs on sale when I get back home!  Kroger has ways to "get you hooked," like offering a free bag of Oreo cookies by e-mail every month or two to their faithful customers. They call them "Friday Freebies." I am convinced that this is their version of giving free cigarettes to addicted smokers when they are trying to quit!   

(3) I have grown to associate evening eating with "rewards." After a long day, especially after slaving over a hot altar all day, I like to reward myself with food. As a single person, eating is my way of patting myself  on the back for a job well done! If I don't do it, who will? I deserve to be appreciated, don't I? Maybe if I lived with more people. I wouldn't have to reward myself all the time! 

(4) I have started the strange habit of associating eating with exercise. The most effective exercise I get after 5:00 pm is walking - walking back and forth to the refrigerator and the kitchen cabinets! Don't laugh! I have been known to eat much of a pound bag of M&Ms one handful at a time. That many trips is a lot of exercise in my book! 

(5) I have grown to associate eating with denial. In Kroger, I have been known to put a apple pie back on the table and pick up an angel food cake in it's place because I can easily convince myself that all it is egg whites and maybe just a spoon full of flour. That way, I can take it home, eat the whole cake and call it breakfast without an ounce of guilt!  

OK, now that I have admitted to my temptations to blame outside factors and have admitted to my temptations to create imaginary flimsy excuses, let me share with you some of the effective things  I could do, and have done, about too much evening eating.   

(1) Stop the temptation at its source! Leave it in the store! Don't bring it into the house and you won't have to resist it.   

(2) One of the advantages of living alone is that you can control what, and how much, food you buy. If you know you are going to "cave in," buy the small single serving size. Never ever buy the large bag of M&Ms, even if they are giving them away - for free! Never ever buy a half-gallon of ice cream, even if it is on sale! Buy one small-sized candy bar or one plain single serving ice-cream on a stick. 

(3) Journal your food intake. Write before you eat. Try to talk yourself out of it as you write. Keep track of all that you have actually consumed, not just the things you can easily remember. If conveniently forgetting is a problem, check the garbage cans for wrappers! Try to monitor why you want to eat? Is it real hunger, is it just habit or is something else eating you? 

(4) Be honest with yourself.  Remember that an angel food cake is not just egg whites, it has quite a bit of sugar! For God's sake, a whole angel food cake is not a "single serving!" Even if it comes unsliced, it can be sliced! 

(5) Feel your hunger and then replace a harmful choice with a healthy choice. When you are hungry between meals, an apple is always a much better choice than a cookie or a candy bar and it takes you longer to eat it.  

(6) Never watch the food channel on TV, never subscribe to a cooking magazine and never ever pick up one of those free food magazines with the delicious photos on the cover and leave it laying around the house!  

(7) Weigh in at least once a week. Encourage yourself whatever the scale says. Never call yourself a "fat pig!" That will just make you hungrier than ever and make you crave food all the more! That's probably how pigs ended up becoming fat pigs. They became victims of their own self-fulfilling prophecies! 

(8) Beware of free food! My Kroger gives away a food item almost every week called "Friday Freebies." Lately, it has ben a bag of Oreo cookies.  I always take my "Friday Freebie" cookies, but I look for a woman with kids hanging off her basket or an elderly person whose cart has only the bare basics and I offer them my "Friday Freebies" before I leave the store. I keep looking until someone takes my offer! I do not leave the store until I am rid of those cookies! 

(9) Girl Scouts often set up tables at the entrances or exits at my grocery store. Instead of buying the Girls Scout cookies and taking them home, I pay for them and then tell the girls that they have to eat them for me.

10) Give yourself permission to watch some "brainless" TV (even some "news" channels now fall into this category), but do it with the stipulation that you have to be on the treadmill instead of sitting in a recliner! If you really want to be heroic, get rid of the recliner and the side table that holds food bowls! When the chair is not "too" comfortable for "too" long, that helps you resist becoming a "couch potato" . 

(11)  If none of this works, I will just put this problem on my list of "unsolvable problems:" problems like why little strange lights come on without explanation on the dash board of my car, why it is nearly impossible to put a stop to robocalls on my cell phone or why it is so hard to cancel that magazine subscription I bought from one of my nieces back when she was in high school! 

(12) Last of all, if all else fails, to avoid temptation I guess I could try going to bed early - maybe 5:00 pm before the food commercials go into high gear! After all, I am old and turning in early is not unusual for someone my age! 


Sunday, October 24, 2021


He shouted even louder, “I want to see!”

                                           Mark 10:51


I love this man named Bartimeus! He is a man who knows what he wants and is willing to jump any hurdles in his way to get at it! No wimpishly sitting back and wishing and waiting and whining for what he needs, he is willing to do whatever it takes to get what he needs! No hoping to be noticed! He makes sure he is noticed! Nobody’s “sit down and shut up” is going to stop him! For him it’s “jump up, shout and be sure you’re heard.” He is tired of being blind. He desperately wants to see! He has a burning faith in Jesus and he will not be held back either by his own reluctance or the obstacles others throw in front of him! 

It is important to notice the words of Jesus here! These same words are often used in the miracle stories of the gospels. Jesus does not say, “Go I have healed you!” Rather he says to Bartimeus, “Go your faith has healed you!” In fact, there are failed healing stories in the gospel where Jesus could not work any miracles because of a person’s lack of faith.  It takes two for a miracle healing – the power of God and the faith of the one who asks for healing. 

The one necessary ingredient, then, in all healing miracles is the strong belief that healing is possible. This strong faith triggers an abnormal acceleration of natural healing processes. This is true of all the healing shrines in all religions – it is the firm faith of the believer that unleashes God’s healing power. 

Bartimeus can teach us something. Psalm 119 says, “God hates half-heartedness!” Very often we are ambivalent about what we say we want. Often, we hang onto our infirmities and losses because they give us convenient excuses for not getting on in life and doing the hard things involved in making it work. We say we want things to be different, but in reality, we are not so sure! Often we actually do not want things to change all that much. 

I am sure Batimeus thought twice about whether he really wanted to see because he knew that when he was able to see he had to quit feeling sorry for himself, he had to give up depending on alms as a beggar and had to get a job for the first time in his life!

Some people wallow in grief for years over the loss of a spouse and feel that they cannot go on. They say they would like to get over it, but sometimes in reality, they are scared of having to do the changing they would have to do to build a new life, another life, a scary new life on their own! It’s often safer to stay stuck than to change! Many unhappy people that I run into as a priest will say they want their lives to be different, but in reality they really don’t want it all that much! In truth, it’s easier for them to to stay stuck! Bartimeus could teach them a lot today about getting up from their self-pity and get on with living! Yes, it is damned hard to move past grief, but the alternatives to moving on are even harder! 

Miracles are possible in our lives, but miracles are different from magic! Magic is about sitting around wishing somebody else would make things happen to make us all better. Magic is waiting for a fairy godmother to come and wave her magic wand over us so we don’t have to do anything. For a miracle to happen, like Bartimeus, we have to get up, throw away the security blankets that we have wrapped ourselves in and be clear about what we want and be willing to go get it! We have to override the naysayer in our own heads and the naysayers who line to roads of our life. Wishing and magic waits for others to fix us. Really wanting something make us take action. God is willing to help those who are willing to help themselves.  Yes, we need to help the helpless, but we also need to encourage those who can help themselves to help themselves!

Friends! We can begin to work miracles in own lives by really wanting something different and really believing that what we want is possible, like Bartimeus. As Dale Carnegie once wrote, “Believe that you will succeed…believe it firmly and you will do what is necessary to bring it to success.”  Jesus it put it this way to Bartimeus, “Your faith has healed you!”