Skip to content

Seven Deadly Sins: Gluttony

By Jeri Holladay
3/20/2017 (1 month ago)
Catholic Online (

Gluttony is a disordered appetite -- a relationship with food that is obsessive, either by excess or defect.

Temperance is the cardinal virtue that moderates and provides balance in the use of created goods (Catechism #1809). It rightly orders the vital powers in light of their proper goals -- physical, social and spiritual. This includes food.

Temperance is the cardinal virtue that moderates and provides balance in the use of created goods (Catechism #1809). It rightly orders the vital powers in light of their proper goals -- physical, social and spiritual. This includes food.


By Jeri Holladay
Catholic Online (
3/20/2017 (1 month ago)

Published in Lent / Easter

Keywords: Gluttony, Seven Deadly Sins, Sins, Deadly Sins, Lust, Pride, Sloth, Envy

WICHITA, Kansas (Catholic Online) - We are a nation obsessed with food, and we have the waist-lines and health problems to prove it. We eat far more food than our grandparents ever dreamed of, in spite of our sedentary lives. Even at the gym, the TV often is turned to the Food Network, and we watch the host prepare a tasty dish that has our mouths watering, longing for more food, while we try to work off the last meal.

The desire to eat and the pleasure of it are natural, good and necessary to sustain life, but food is often used to calm emotional hungers. We often eat when we are bored, lonely, angry, or sad rather than in response to a genuine, bodily hunger. Over time, emotional eating can leave us not only unhealthy but isolated and alienated from others

Gluttony is a disordered appetite -- a relationship with food that is obsessive, either by excess or defect. (Catechism #1866). It abuses the body by eating too much food, food that's too rich, or ersatz, food that does not actually nourish. We eat hastily and thoughtlessly, at the wrong times, or at any time, or all the time. We are picky gourmands or, less frequently, we refuse to eat much at all, starving our bodies and threatening our very lives.

It's difficult to master this visceral appetite. Unlike the alcoholic, the glutton cannot give up eating altogether. Even worse, our deepest survival instinct kicks in when it comes to food. Victor Frankel, writing of his experience in the German concentration camps, spoke of the widespread temptation of the stronger prisoners to take the meager rations of the weaker ones.

Temperance is the cardinal virtue that moderates and provides balance in the use of created goods (Catechism #1809). It rightly orders the vital powers in light of their proper goals -- physical, social and spiritual. This includes food. Saying grace at the beginning of a meal, for example, reminds us that the fruitfulness of the earth is a blessing from God.

Food is for the body, but the body is not the center of life. Overeating can mask a spiritual hunger that only God can satisfy. The bodily act of eating has a spiritual significance. The Eucharist, for example, is food, a foretaste of the heavenly banquet, spiritual food but food nonetheless.

Communion with God is the answer to our craving for love. Only He can fill that voracious void in the pit of our stomachs that we try to fill with huge quantities of rich foods. Our daily meals are a sign and preparation for "The Meal", and gluttony has no place at the heavenly table.

St. Paul sharply corrected the Corinthians when their agape feasts became occasions for selfishness (I Cor 11:17-22). In their grab for physical food, they missed the presence of the Lord.

Meals are intended to be a time of fellowship, a time to share conversation, counsel, and the conviviality of the table. Table fellowship was a central part of Jesus' life and ministry. He not only quaffed wine at the wedding in Cana, He made more and even better wine. Feasts as well as fasts are an integral part of the Church's life and relationship with God and with food.

Fasting prepares us to eat appropriately and to master our appetite. It was an integral part of the lives of the desert Fathers, and throughout history, the Church has proposed that lay people fast also. Why?

In his Lenten message, Pope Benedict XVI teaches that fasting began in Paradise, when God told Adam and Eve not to eat of the Tree of Good and Evil. Jesus Himself fasted 40 days in the desert, revealing the true interior nature of fasting. The Holy Father says, Jesus "Himself sets the example, answering Satan, at the end of the forty days spent in the desert that "man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Mt4,4). The true fast is thus directed to eating the 'true food,' which is to do the Father's will (cf. Jn 4, 34). If, therefore, Adam disobeyed the Lord's command . . . the believer, through fasting, intends to submit himself humbly to God, trusting in His goodness and mercy.'

Fasting is the Church's answer to the glutton's disordered relationship with food. It restores the proper order to all aspects of creation, including the way we use its fruitfulness for the nourishment and gladness of our bodies.

Our meals are directed toward Communion, promote fellowship with one another and incorporate all of bodily life into life with God. St. Augustine once said of the Eucharist that 'we become what we eat.' Let us respond, 'Amen,' and keep food in its proper place.

Jeri Holladay writes from Wichita, Kansas, where she has been Director of Adult Education at the Spiritual Life Center of the Diocese of Wichita, Associate Professor of Theology, Chairman of the Theology Department and founding Director of the Bishop Eugene Gerber Institute of Catholic Studies at Newman University. She teaches moral theology and church history and is a contributing writer for Catholic Online.


'Help give every student and teacher Free resources for a world-class moral Catholic education'

Copyright 2017 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for APRIL 2017
Young People.
That young people may respond generously to their vocations and seriously consider offering themselves to God in the priesthood or consecrated life.


More Lent & Easter

'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead'

Luke 24:46

Lent Event


Ash Wednesday

March 1, 2017

Image of Ash Wednesday Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting... continue reading

Palm Sunday

April 9, 2017

Image of Palm Sunday Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four canonical Gospels... continue reading

Holy Week

April 9 - 15, 2017

Image of Holy Week On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the first joy of the season, as we celebrate Our Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcomed by... continue reading

Holy Thursday

April 13, 2017

Image of Holy Thursday Holy Thursday is the most complex and profound of all religious observances. It celebrates his last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover... continue reading

Good Friday

April 14, 2017

Image of Good Friday On Good Friday, each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Holy Week... continue reading

Easter Sunday

April 16, 2017

Image of Easter Sunday Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I calls it the greatest feast, and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter... continue reading

Stations of the Cross

Every Friday

Image of Stations of the Cross Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion... continue reading

Fasting and Abstinence

Every Friday

Image of Fasting and Abstinence For most people the easiest practice to consistently fulfill will be the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the... continue reading

Image of What did you give up for Lent? From the humorous to the bizarre, people have had interesting Lenten experiences. Tell us about what you are going to give up for this Lenten Year... continue reading

Ascension of Our Lord

Thursday May 25, 2017

Image of Ascension of Our Lord The Ascension of Our Lord, a Holy Day of Obligation, celebrates the day that Christ, in the presence of His apostles, ascended bodily into Heaven. The Ascension occurred on the 40th day of Easter, a Thursday... continue reading


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Image of Pentecost Pentecost Sunday is one of the most ancient feasts of the Church, celebrated early enough to be mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (20:16) and Corinthians (16:8)... continue reading

Image of Lent FAQ's Everything answered from when does lent end, ashes, giving something up, stations of the cross and blessed palms. The key to understanding the meaning of Lent is simple... continue reading

Mardi Gras

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Image of Mardi Gras In France, the people feasted on foods that would be given up during the forty days of Lent. Meats, eggs, and milk were finished off in one day, giving the holiday its French title of 'Mardi Gras' which means Fat Tuesday... continue reading

Image of Transformed by Easter The Resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ, a faith believed and lived as the central truth by the first Christian community... continue reading

Image of Appearances He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. - Matthew 28:6. Learn more about the Post-Resurrection Appearances of Jesus Christ... continue reading

Image of Easter Gifts offers a variety of Easter gifts & Easter treats for all ages! Choose a gift for someone special and celebrate the joy of Easter... continue reading

Easter / Lent News

Inspire: Easter Beyond the Octave. Why Do We Celebrate for Fifty Days?

Image of Christ my hope is risen, and he goes before you into Galilee.

While Easter is a Solemnity and an octave feast, it is also a 50 day season until Pentecost.The Season of Easter is not just about His ... continue reading

Reflecting on the Resurrection: Why did Jesus Rise with Wounds?

Image of The empty tomb and the neatly folded burial cloths point to us that Jesus is physically alive.  His crucified body has been transformed.  What lesson is he teaching us by keeping his wounds intact?

What lesson is the Lord teaching us by keeping his wounds intact? Perhaps we can better answer this question by turning to our own wounds. ... continue reading

I Am Dismas and This Is My Story

Image of

As a teenager I ran into someone who introduced me to the finer points of the occupation. We fell into the tried and proven method of ... continue reading

HOLY SATURDAY: The Whole Earth Keeps Silence Watch

Image of The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep.

Something strange is happening - there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence ... continue reading

On the Friday We Call Good, the Whole World Stands Still Watch

Image of

Today as we contemplate the Passion we also plumb the mystery and meaning of the Church. We are members of His Body. She was born ... continue reading

The Lent and Easter Season... by

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.