Putting the cool…

back in gruel!

The letter T.HEREFORE, if you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above; where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God: 2 Mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth. 3 For you are dead; and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ shall appear, who is your life, then you also shall appear with him in glory. 5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, lust, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is the service of idols. 6 For which things the wrath of God cometh upon the children of unbelief, 7 In which you also walked some time, when you lived in them. 8 But now put you also all away: anger, indignation, malice, blasphemy, filthy speech out of your mouth. 9 Lie not one to another: stripping yourselves of the old man with his deeds, 10 And putting on the new, him who is renewed unto knowledge, according to the image of him that created him.” — Colossians 3

I’m not a particularly “hardcore” observer of Lent, but I am always open to methods for deepening the experience in a traditional (i.e. sustainable) way. I missed Shrove Tuesday this year, though it was only the first year I had any consciousness of the rite. If some people go nuts with booze on Mardi Gras, I’ve been going gaga with sleep the last couple days. I am still on a “bulking” phase in my fitness regimen, arguably a dubious Lenten practice, but I will be done with it by March 18.

One must not, however, merely starve the body, but must also feed the heart, the living soul. As such, I recommend you choose some wholesome, and perhaps uncharted, spiritual reading this season. I will be reading St. Francis de Sales’ Introduction to the Devout Life, and Fr. Gabriel’s Divine Intimacy as a daily meditation. I shall never cease to give thanks for a benefactor’s recent generosity of a pristine copy of Divine Intimacy. Surely the best thanks is to use it!

While I enjoy picking through traditional ascetical books–such as The Sinner’s Guide, Hell, Heliotropium, and The Spiritual Combat–I am inclined to read the Compendium of Social Doctrine of the Church. Yet, I mustn’t, characteristically, bite off more than I can chew. (I’ve also got some apostolic research obligations which I must honor.) Hence, without pledging one more over-full bite, I may also try to make more progress in Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence, the main text of which took me years to finish. I don’t know why, though I like to say that I was savoring each page. Perhaps it’s best to call my reading of it “Abandonment of ‘Abandonment‘”.


As I mortify my members and nourish my soul, the Scared Sacred Heart shall hold a central place for me this Lent. Thanks to Fr. Blake, I think gruel would be just the filler along the way. Lenten gruel. The very idea is penitential enough to singe the eyebrows off any non-Catholic bystander.

Feel free to comment on your own Lenten practices, readings, and favorite gruel recipes.


About The Codgitator (a cadgertator)

Catholic convert. Quasi-Zorbatic. Freelance interpreter, translator, and web marketer. Former ESL teacher in Taiwan (2003-2012) and former public high school teacher (2012-2014). Married father of three. Multilingual, would-be scholar, and fairly consistent fitness monkey. My research interests include: the interface of religion and science, the history and philosophy of science and technology, ancient and medieval philosophy, and cognitive neuroscience. Please pray for me.
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4 Responses to Putting the cool…

  1. Branch says:

    I am curious to know more of your thoughts on Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence. It seems to me a very unique work in some ways, though true to the French school of spirituality. And, I think that St. Therese certainly would have read it at some point, considering the teaching she developed.

  2. Paul Zummo says:

    I’m “feasting” on a small tomato basil soup right now as I had to have a bit more for lunch than my planned apple. Like you I have been on an exercise regimen, but I am doing the Catholic fast thing. Mercifully we’re not Jewish and don’t have to fast for real.

    Every Lent I make an effort to read the bible every day – all of the New and as much as the Hebrew Scriptures as I can. I also always pick up at least one Navarre Bible commentary, this year picking up both the Gospel of Matthew and Acts of the Apostles. I’ve been reading Josemaria Excriva’s the Way and have CS Lewis’s the Four Loves in the queue, and will probably look through some of your recommendations.

  3. Branch says:

    I love how concrete and specific Self-Abandonment is in some ways. In one portion, it speaks of how abandonment can be, beyond a general practice and virtue that all Christians must embrace, a particular ‘state’ for some, which I understand as meaning a particular path to holiness which some individuals are called to. It’s a remarkable idea.

    I also have experienced that the work itself possesses something of a ‘power’ not unlike the famous works of many other saints. There is something almost sacramental about the work itself.

  4. Well, it ties in closely with my patron Saint being Francis de Sales. It has also proven to be a very effective evangelistic tool. It is popular in our day to spout about the “Zen” mind which only lives for the moment (or “flow”). But in fact, immersion in the present moment is all of a piece with self-abandonment. Life as we know it, moment by moment, is the most immediate knowledge of God’s will for us, conformity with which is in turn the surest means of happiness. The key difference between the soi disant Buddhist ethos of “living for the moment” is that Catholic piety calls us to live deeply and wholly in the moment FOR the ULTIMATE glory of God.

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