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is stated, are unaware that they have the disease at all until it is too late to arrest its progress. Undue concern about one's health is of course to be deprecated; and there is without a doubt something of truth in the familiar statement that the men who are always bothering about their physical well-being and taking infinite precautions as to diet, exposure to draughts, the temperature of their living rooms, etc., are precisely those who are most frequently ailing; but, on the other hand, it is incontestable that many men, and not a few middle-aged priests among them, habitually lead a life which, while not on the surface notably unsanitary, is nevertheless surely leading them to an untimely death. Those of us who in our fifth or sixth decade continue that habit of eating three hearty meals a day which we formed years ago when our physical activity was considerably greater than it is at present, may well reflect on this last word of the scientists on Bright's disease: "Nine times out of ten it is the result, more or less direct, of disorders in the digestive tract, and nine times out of ten these disorders are due to too much eating and drinking, too much bending over desks, and too little fresh air."
Connected with our general subject there are one or two common fallacies that merit exposure. One of them is that an invariable relation of effect and cause exists between one's physical appearance and one's prowess with the knife and fork, that leanness, quasi-emaciation, skin-and-boneness, are always due to abstemiousness, while plumpness of form and, a fortiori, obesity are certain
signs of over-indulgence in the pleasures of the table. Leanness and its opposite are sometimes hereditary; and history as well as personal observation proves that there have been, and are, obese saints and thin gluttons. St. Thomas Aquinas was not particularly sylph-like in form, nor was that uncanonized nineteenth-century saint, the author of All for Jesus. A diocesan cleric, during a visit to a monastery in which one of his brothers was a religious, remarked one day: "Say, Tom, what a thoroughly mortified, saint-like, ascetic face your Father X. has!"-"Ascetic fiddlesticks," came the entirely frank if not very charitable reply, "he's the most confirmed dyspeptic crank in the Community. Our real saint is Father L. over there in the corner, that rolypoly individual who looks like an over-fed alderman, and yet eats less in a week than Father X. does in a day." General rules are subject to so many exceptions that it is not always safe to apply them to particular cases.
Another specious fallacy about eating, or dieting, is that persons who fast, either habitually or occasionally, take as much food at their one full meal as they would take in their three regular meals if they were not fasting. In all probability those who make this statement do not really believe it, themselves. In any case, priests who have frequent experience of fasting must know that the assertion is so far from being true that it is simply ridiculous. If it ever wears any color of truth, it must be in the case of the person who fasts only once in a long while, and whose stomach has accordingly not become habituated to the
changed régime. In the present writer's own case, and, he ventures to say, in that of the average man who has adopted the plan of taking only one full meal a day, that meal is not a bit fuller now than it was some years ago when it was daily supplemented by two other hearty repasts. Apropos of habitual fasting, by the way, George Fordyce declares: “One meal a day is enough for a lion, and it ought to be for a man,”—at least for a man whose life is largely an indoor, sedentary one, and who takes little or no physical exercise.
An excellent concomitant of an enjoyable meal, and one that should never be absent from a table at which several priests are gathered, is lively conversation. It may seem somewhat rash to question the advantages of the oldtime monastic plan of eating in silence, the diners listening to a reader instead of talking among themselves; but the advantages are perhaps spiritual rather than hygienic. At any rate, where no rule forbids talking at table, the said monastic plan may assuredly be improved upon. For one thing, animated conversation during meals militates against our committing the typically American dietetic sin-eating too rapidly, bolting one's food rather than masticating it thoroughly. Apart from this worth-while result, lively speech and intermittent laughter are effective aids to digestion. There are many places, no doubt, in which diocesan priests may congruously and profitably practise "the great silence” to which their religious confrères are often constrained; but the dining-room is not one of them.
The limitations imposed by the title of this
essay obviously exclude a number of considerations which might appropriately enough find their place in a chapter on the general subject of eating. It would, for instance, savor somewhat of impertinence to insist that a priest is decidedly out of character in the rôle of either a gourmand or a gourmet, a greedy feeder or a nice one, a connoisseur in the delicacies of the table, an epicure. And it would be superfluous to point out that, more than other persons, he must “use as a frugal man the things that are set before him,” and sedulously avoid giving any shadow of occasion for the imputation that "his god is his belly." It will not, however, be irrelevant to conclude with the description of what in the present writer's opinion is the best of clerical meals: one that has fresh air and active muscular exercise for an appetizer; plain, substantial, and well-cooked food for the bill of fare; and an accompaniment of pleasant, cheerful discourse from the first mouthful to the last.
THE FRATERNAL CHARITY OF PRIESTS
Let the charity of the brotherhood abide in you.—Heb. xiii, 1. I will chide no heathen in the world but myself, against whom I know most faults.-Shakespeare.
Fraternal charity is the sign of predestination. It makes us known as the true disciples of Christ, for it was this divine virtue that moved Him to live a life of poverty and to die in destitution upon the Cross.-St. Vincent de Paul.
HEN the ordinary everyday priest of this twentieth century is reminded of the pregnant aphorism, Sacerdos alter Christus, and is advised to act conformably thereto, he is apt to tell himself that, after all, the dictum is only a daring metaphor. True, he performs a Christ-like rôle at the altar and exercises Christ-like powers in the confessional; but there, he affirms, his quasiidentity with the God-Man ceases, and none but visionary and unpractical ascetic theorists can expect him to reproduce in his workaday life the multifarious virtues and the beneficent activities that distinguished his Divine Master. That he underestimates the justice of the metaphor goes without saying; his resemblance to our Lord is, or should be, closer than he is inclined to admit; yet there is, of course, a substratum of truth in his contention. In the downright, strict, literal sense of the phrase, he is not "another Christ," and may, if he will, disclaim the characterization. What he cannot disclaim with any vestige of honesty is his character of Christian, and Christian in the most downright, strict, literal possible sense of the