Time has come when the family garden is beginning to yield its bounty that needs stored away for winter time. The red raspberries and blueberries are tightly sealed in their freezer bags. The garlic is hanging to dry. The squash are in full production. The watermelon and cantaloupe are swelling on the vine. The tomatoes are getting the first hint of red. The corn is in tassel and the little ears have started to form. Is your mouth watering yet? It should be, as God gave us the senses of taste, smell, and sight, he also gave us hunger. We concentrate a lot on the food we eat, but do we focus on food for our starving souls, that hunger for God. We have both a body and a soul that hunger.
As a society and as families and individuals we concentrate on making sure we have food on our plate. My wife and I sometimes say we are “foodies”, enjoying the bounty of God’s green earth. Some people even consider themselves connoisseurs of wine or cheese, you name it. We spend hours in gardens or we go to farmers markets and grocery stores and pick out the best we can buy with the money we have. As a foodie, I work hard to make sure what I put in my mouth to feed my earthly body is not junk. All that effort is spent feeding a body that will some day die and become worm food. If I work that hard to feed a dying body do I work even harder to feed my soul and the souls of my family that are eternal?
As St John Vianney insists the only food to feed our soul is the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Only God can satiate the hunger of our souls. I often try as many of us do to feed my soul with other earthly things. Our society and the evil one tells we can feed our souls with earthly things, but this only leaves us wanting more and feeling empty. I could give examples all day long of things that we can use to try to feed our soul that will leave us empty in the end. Television, mass media, internet, sports, food, cars, materialism, consumerism, pornography, fornication, and the list could go on.
Dr. G.C. Dilsaver states in the opening paragraph of his book The Three Marks of Manhood, “Dark Times, arguably the darkest of times in the annals of Christianity, have descended on both Faith and family at the eclipsed dawn of the twenty-first century. A full blown spiritual plague now rampages through the West and beyond. Pernicious and highly infectious, this plague is promulgated by governmental policies and commercial interests, and its pathogens ride the ubiquitous airwaves of the mass media and incubate in the passive minds of modern men.” Not only do we starve our eternal souls, but as Dr Dilsaver would suggest we endanger our souls with the ills of our society.
As my soul yearns to be fed, what do seek to fill it? The Eucharist, the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, is the only thing that can fill our souls and satiate them. In the Eucharist, we find the true presence of Jesus Christ, who in John 6: 53-56 says, “Amen, Amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”
As a family we try to attend mass and receive the Eucharist more than just on Sunday. One of the beauty’s of our Catholic Church is that we can be fed daily by God. That doesn’t mean that as a family we make it to Mass every day. As St Frances DeSales suggests in his book The Devout Life, we must respect our state in life and provide what is best for our families. I find that we try to balance feeding our souls at Mass with feeding our bellies with work. On days that Mass is not an option there is always an Act of Spiritual Communion. What matters is the desire to have God in us and allow Jesus Christ to feed our souls.
Just as squash and melons grow in the garden, so must my soul grow an ever increasing desire for Jesus Christ, to love him, to adore him, and to please him. He is the perfect example for which we can follow carrying our crosses toward life after our earthly death. From a place of love for Christ all our earthly struggles begin to take on a new perspective and if tomatoes get a virus it doesn’t matter nearly as much as if my soul catches one. Strive to have more passion for the Eucharist than you do for the food you put in your mouth.