Article by Archbishop Joseph Naumann
Program helps us turn to God when we might have turned to food
by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
I do not know about you, but it is usually about the end of January that all my New Year’s resolutions begin to unravel. For many people, New Year’s resolutions often include a commitment to diet.
This fall, I invited any priest who desired to join me by participating in what is best described as a spirituality of eating program developed by a member of our archdiocese, Suzanne Fowler. The program is entitled: Light Weigh — One King.
Light Weigh is not a diet that restricts or limits one from eating a particular food group. It is not about self-discipline. It is rather shining the light of our faith on the decisions that we make every day about what and how much we eat.
It is a 12-week program. Our small priests’ group completed the first half of the program before Christmas. We have just resumed our weekly meeting in mid-January and will complete our sessions about halfway through Lent.
What I really enjoy about Light Weigh is it is not so much about denying myself things I like to eat, as it is recognizing my choices of how much I eat, when I eat and what I eat are connected to my life of faith. Suzanne encourages Light Weigh participants not to sacrifice flavor or quality for quantity in our eating choices.
Light Weigh is very much about portion control, not overeating or, expressed another way, eating more than I need to refuel my body. It is about not eating when I am really not hungry. It is about not turning to food for comfort instead of God.
Light Weigh has made me conscious how food, for me at least, can become an idol. When I am anxious or feeling overwhelmed by challenges that I am facing, I can turn to food — eating something that I enjoy — rather than turning to God in prayer for strength and consolation.
One of the aspects that I enjoy the most about Light Weigh is that it is very scripturally based. It is fascinating how frequently the Bible speaks about food. It was, after all, one of the ways in which the devil tempted Jesus after his 40 days of fasting.
Light Weigh also acquaints participants with some of the stories of heroic saints. Reflecting on the sacrifices made by the church’s martyrs places in perspective the rather small renunciations required in not overeating or choosing not to eat when you are not hungry.
Light Weigh invites participants to draw upon the spirituality of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, who recognized that making what may appear to be small or inconsequential sacrifices can be a means for glorifying God and interceding for the needs of others.
Light Weigh aims at strengthening one’s prayer life by providing a very helpful framework for morning and evening prayer. The program promotes a daily examination of conscience that includes reflecting upon our eating choices for the day. It helps to place what we choose to eat as part of the spiritual battle that we are all engaged with every day.
Is God first in our life? Are we striving to be good stewards of our bodies, recognizing them as living temples that carry the very life of God? Do we turn to God for comfort and consolation or rather to so-called comfort food?
With Light Weigh, there are no “weigh-ins,” but it is meant to be done as a group. By participating in weekly meetings, participants both challenge and support each other in their efforts to give God dominion over their eating choices.
Though I have lost a few pounds, I am not exactly the poster child for Light Weigh or, for that matter, healthy eating. However, I do recommend the program.
Lent is an ideal time for a parish to sponsor a Light Weigh group. However, with Lent only a few weeks away, it may be difficult to form a group for the beginning of Lent. It could be started midway through Lent and continue through the Easter season and even into the resumption of Ordinary Time in the church’s liturgical year.
Light Weigh is a great resource to become better stewards of our bodies. The program helps participants recognize how everyday choices that we make regarding what we choose to eat or not eat can be a means for glorifying God and interceding for the needs of others. It is all about acknowledging Jesus as the king and Lord of every aspect of our lives.
If you are interested, I encourage you to Google Light Weigh One King and explore for yourself the information about the program. Perhaps the Lord is calling you to contact your pastor about the possibility of organizing a group for your parish. I think you will find Light Weigh a spiritually enriching experience for yourself and you may be the instrument God uses in making this spiritual resource available to other members of your parish.