Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what does not satisfy? Only listen to me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare. — Isaiah 55:2.
Think: My Child, you are no doubt familiar with the symbolic interpretation of Isaiah, often summed as “Man cannot live by bread alone.” But do not forget that Our Heavenly Father also intends for our corporal needs to be met. When Christ gave us the supplication of the Lord’s Prayer “Give us this day our daily bread,” (Matthew 6:11), He meant real bread, not the crumbly, must-be-frozen, miniature gluten-free slices filled with holes. Be assured: God understands the frustration of spending a disproportionate amount of wages on what is not food.
While self-mortification, fasting and abstinence are worthy gifts of sacrifice, no faith tradition suggests their practice daily. So God will forgive your tears as you eat a dressing-less salad while others delight in rich fare such as yeasty sourdough fresh out of a brick oven or the gut-lining heft of homemade ravioli. Pray that He will give you the strength to eat at restaurants joyfully despite being unable to “splurge,” or to try something foreign and new, or to choose anything you want; may you be satisfied with limited options or no options. Also, know He will heed your prayer of confession lest you eat a 5-pound bag of M&Ms in one sitting or gorge on Cheetos just so your flesh remembers what it is like to feel indulged.
Pray: My God, grant that I may have the grace to control my sadness, anger, and frustration when not satisfied by food. Help me to show gratitude even for the unsavory, the unsauced and uncreamed, and the dairy/soy/peanut-free. Unburden me of the guilt and calories caused by a lack of temperance with the foods and drinks I can enjoy, including wine, cheese, and French fries cooked in uncross-contaminated oil.
Every weapon fashioned against you shall fail; every tongue that brings you to trial you shall prove false. — Isaiah 54:17
Think: My Child, be assured that the Lord will seek judgement against those who do not have a medical necessity for eating gluten-free, yet do it anyway in order to be “healthier” or trendy. Pray that God will grant those misguided souls the wisdom that this visits a hardship on the rest of us, causing doctors to roll eyes at vague symptoms attributed to the self-diagnosis of celiac, waiters and fellow diners to tune out questions about ingredients or preparation, and restaurant managers fearing lawsuits to write menu disclaimers that frighten us or are nonsensical, such as “gluten-free friendly.” Have faith that the Lord will rescue you from friends and family who relish going out to dinner without you, or complain about choosing from just a handful of locations where everyone can eat together. Pray that your Church will guide its leaders to normalize the distribution of Holy Communion to the faithful, no longer making some buy and provide their own hosts or not take physical Communion at all. Forgive them, Father, for designing the gluten-free and gluten versions in almost identical packaging, and stocking them side-by-side so that those who grow weary of checking and double checking every label mistakingly buy and eat that which makes them worship the porcelain god for hours; they know not what they do.
Pray: Dearest Lord, grant me the strength to tolerate with patience yet another explanation of why I must question food preparers out of self-preservation, not pickiness. Grant me the grace to explain to well-meaning friends why I will eat only a “no-thank-you-size helping” of gluten-free food they have made for me, perhaps with cross-contaminated utensils Forgive me when weakness leads me to self pity and defeat, isolating myself to eat alone or not at all. Please stay near me in my time of distress when I struggle with the pain of feeling left out and unable to enjoy social events because they center around food shared. In union with You help me to find union with others despite this trial.
P.S. Could you reserve a special place in Hell for those who un-invite children with dietary needs or expect them to provide their own food? (Thank you.)
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Philippians 4:6.
Think: My Child, know that the Lord will calm your confusion when you lose your way looking for a GF restaurant at the wrong exit, cry out in the wilderness of a cafeteria for anyone who might know the ingredients in food served, and send up your sighs, mourning and weeping in the valley of food prepared by others.
Pray: Dear gluten-free God, I implore you to heed my silent prayer offered after every Grace before Meals: “Protect me from getting sick on this food and incapacitated for 24 hours in the middle of my vacation, business trip, busiest week at school or work, or expensive conference.” Lord, I offer you in sacrifice all my anxiety about eating. Help me to see in it the opportunity to share in the suffering of Christ and my fellow man.
Jean P. Kelly has written for US Catholic Magazine (see her piece on Sr. Simone Campbell. featured in their wonderful “Unexpected Women” series). She’s currently researching and writing a book intertwining her quest for deeper reading about faith via physical pilgrimages to the places, lives, and culture of Catholic journalists and writers (including Day, O’Connor, Merton, Toni Morrison and Pat Conroy).