|Your humble blogger, Halloween 2009. Yikes.|
Over at Catholic Exchange, I just finished reading Mark Shea's post "It's Time You People Confronted Your Obesophobia", which I will swear has been published before but is worth the revisit. Not three minutes after I clicked out of that page, I came across Fr. Jay Toborowski's entry in Young Fogeys, "Is this an 'Oprah moment'?"
Okay, yeah ... I'm fat, too. Say what you will about gluttony, it's the one deadly sin you can't keep secret for very long.
Now, recently the Chicago Sun-Times ran a story on a study done out at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine linking regular church attendance to obesity. The lead investigator, Matthew Feinstein, did note however that "the study’s results shouldn’t be a cause for alarm because previous studies have shown that regular churchgoers tend to smoke less, have better mental health and live longer than those who don’t go to church."
I can't afford to be an atheist ... I already smoke a pack and a half a day.
As of now, the researchers aren't sure why there's a link between church attendance and obesity. Kevin Knight at New Advent has already suggested the answer: Buddhists don't have Sunday potlucks. And LarryD at Acts of the Apostasy mulled: "... [Y]ou've got Lenten Fish Fries, donuts after Sunday Mass, funeral luncheons, bake sales ... hmmm. Maybe there is something to this study after all."
What we don't have? Pole dancing for Jesus. Frankly, all the standing, sitting and kneeling we do at Mass isn't an efficient cardio workout, so we can skip the "Catholic calisthenics" jokes here.
Who do we invoke as a patron saint? A quick check doesn't pull anybody specifically marked for obesity. However, there is St. Ubald of Gubbio (obsessive-compulsive disorders), as well as St. Paulina (diabetes — type 2 is often triggered by obesity). Or, if you're really having trouble with the diet and exercise, there are Ss. Rita of Cascia and Jude (lost or impossible causes).
G. K. Chesterton said it better, but here goes: Given what we believe about the presence of sin in the world, it would be nothing short of miraculous if the membership of the Catholic Church only comprised saints. We wouldn't be the largest church in the world ... we would be the smallest. The only church without sinners is an empty church. "The Church is justified, not because her children do not sin, but because they do."
At the end of the day, the race to sainthood isn't an individual event but a team sport. Not only do we need God's help, we need the help of other people who are also struggling to cross the line. If you wait until you're perfect to help out, you never will: helping out is part of the perfecting process.