How does gluttony work? You just get bigger and bigger and bigger! Gluttony is the vice that leads us to eat and drink more than we need and more than we ought. It is a very easy vice to fall into if we are not mortified and become accustomed to satisfying our cravings.
The sense of taste is just one sense that needs to be mortified. If we give our body all that it wants, it takes over and suffocates our soul, easily leading toward that downward path of sin and degradation. Instead of living as children of God, we wind up living like animals.
Pleasure is not wrong. But always in moderation. Remember what St. Paul wrote to the Romans: “Let us then throw off the works of darkness [and] put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy” (13:12-13).
Yes, you can sin — more or less deliberately — if you eat too much during the holidays. But you can also sin against charity if you do not eat your mother-in-law’s pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. Rather, pace yourself, and then express your appreciation for the hard work and care that others have spent to make life pleasant for you at Christmastime.
I think the only time gluttony becomes a mortal sin is if you eat so much you become ill, or if you wear down your health over time, or you drink so much that you cannot find your way back home. St. Thomas Aquinas points out in the Summa Theologica that “drunkenness by it’s nature is a mortal sin” (Q. 150, Article 2), but the sin admits for parvity of matter, which means if you are a little tipsy, that is not a mortal sin, but if you cannot stand up and are out of control, then that’s a mortal sin.
But pay attention here! If you are only concerned about avoiding mortal sin, you are skating on thin ice! We need to avoid even deliberate venial sin, because venial sin easily accepted inevitably leads to mortal sin. So we have to keep the battle far from the walls of the main fortress.
Rev. Francis Hoffman, J.C.D., Executive Director of Relevant Radio. Follow him on his Facebook page “Father Rocky.”