Catholics, Celebration and Freedom: In Praise of the Pig
and that "goeth out in the privy," as the Douay Rheims delicately puts it.
In this, the Gospel says, Jesus declared all foods clean thereby declaring that the Jewish law was not an absolute way to God, but was merely pedagogical. And now that the Way was here, there was no longer need for the way that pointed to the Way.
Jesus, with the authority of God himself, purged all foods from any hint of uncleanness or impurity. Purgans omnes escas. (Mark 7:9)
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (§ 582) states: "Jesus perfects the dietary law, so important in Jewish daily life, by revealing its pedagogical meaning through a divine interpretation," essentially abrogating the restrictions, or, perhaps better, deepening their meaning as inconsequential in the light of the Gospel which deals not with matters of the stomach, but with matters of the heart.
In short, you can eat pig, or hog, or swine, or boar. Just don't be a pig, or a hog, or a swine, or a boar. Overindulgence, greed, moral impurity, and violence are proscribed by the law of Christ, not the eating of God's good meat.
Customs die hard. It seems that even in St. Peter, the Jewish dietary customs had to be drilled out of him by a vision at Jaffa in which he saw a large sheet being let down by animals held unclean--we may be sure the included the pig--and he was told to slaughter and eat. "Certainly not, Lord. For never have I eaten anything profane and unclean." But the Voice insisted: "What God has made clean," and that can have reference only to Jesus and his teaching, "you are not to call profane." (Acts 10:13-15)
St. Paul, who had to remind St. Peter of the Lord's view on diet, warned the early Christians to avoid those who depart from the faith, give heed to "deceitful spirits" and "demonic instructions" through the "hypocrisy of liars with branded consciences." Part of what might be expected from such disreputable fellows, St. Paul warns, are supposed claims to divine commands that "require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth." (1 Tim. 4:1-3)
This includes the pig. God bless the pig! Let us, who know the truth, receive the pig as did Belloc and Chesterton, with thanksgiving. Benedicamus Domno pro sus!
The Christian knows what any Frenchman knows: tout est bon dans le cochon! We have St. Paul's word for it!
The supposed prophet of the Muslims, Muhammad--alas--darkened the life of his followers by prohibiting them from eating pigs, and reversing thereby Christ's enlightening teaching that we do not get to God through our stomachs but with our hearts.
Instead of tout est bon dans le cochon--which is the Lord's joyful teaching--we have rien est bon dans le cochon, nothing is good about the pig, the dour Islamic teaching reflected in the thoughts of Ayatollah Khomeni.
"He hath only forbidden you dead meat, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and that on which any other name hath been invoked besides that of Allah." Qur'an 2:173
(There is, for the sake of completeness, a necessity defense to this Islamic prohibition, but this is a very grudging allowance by Allah. Allah is clearly not happy about it.)
As for me and my house, I stand with the French, with Belloc, with Chesterton and with the entire weight of Christianity and Catholic wisdom, and with the Lord, St. Peter, and St. Paul. There is nothing wrong with the pig (nor, one might add, some good wine).
And as a scriptural coda, let us turn to St. Paul's marvelous epistle to the Romans and remind ourselves that the "kingdom of God is not a matter of food and drink, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the holy Spirit; whoever serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by others." (Rom. 14:17-18)
In our pilgrimage of life, let us focus on that bigger thing of serving Christ and being pleasing to God and loving to our neighbor, and then eat anything you like, particularly the pig.
Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas. He is married with three children. He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum. You can contact Andrew at email@example.com.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Islam, pig, Belloc, Chesterton, dietary restrictions
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