Eyes, Stomachs, and Hearts

“Your eyes are bigger than your stomach.” The admonition echoes across summer barbeques as overzealous eaters test the structural integrity of paper plates. But recently, this saying echoed for me in an unlikely place.

This summer, I visited a monastery of Dominican Nuns in North Guilford, Connecticut. Like many communities of our nuns, they devote themselves to perpetual adoration. During my visit, I knelt and stared at the Eucharist. I remembered the admonition about desiring too much food, but this time, it went: “your eyes are bigger than your heart.” In the Eucharist is the infinite love of Jesus Christ, a love that attracts my heart. But my heart—even at its best—is finite, let alone when it is constricted by sin.

At summer barbeques, gluttonous plate-fillers know the discomfort of stuffed stomachs. But this sacramental food produces no such discomfort. Rather, the Eucharist marvelously expands the heart. Jesus gives us true freedom. With a stuffed stomach, we can barely move. But with an expanded heart, our pace quickens on the path of love.

There is something deeply healing about the Eucharist, even if we simply look at it. Adoration seems to touch a deep wound: our faulty desire to look at the wrong thing and to have it in the wrong way. In the beginning, a woman once looked at food and everything went terribly wrong. Remember Eve and the fruit.

Here in this Dominican monastery, these women, as daughters of Eve, also look at food and desire it. But these are redeemed daughters. The forbidden fruit once seduced Eve. To her, it seemed “good for food … a delight to the eyes … to be desired to make one wise.” But this heavenly food sanctifies these nuns. In it—in Him—they find true goodness, true delight, and true wisdom.

The first Adam may have stood by silently as Eve took that first bite. But the New Adam, Jesus Christ, has taken a wonderful initiative. Our first sin centered on eating the wrong thing, but Jesus draws us back to the Father by becoming food Himself for us. God will not be outdone by an apple—or whatever fruit it was, or anything in creation!

Even more, these nuns are united with Him whom they contemplate, the blessed fruit of Mary’s womb. As daughters of the New Eve, they carry Him within themselves and bear this divine fruit to others. Their prayers and penances go beyond their cloister, calling down graces upon the Church and the world.

Summer is a time for sight-seeing and fine dining. Come see the Sacrament of Beauty, the true delight of our eyes, a sight to behold. And enjoy the sacred banquet that truly satisfies. Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on Dominicana, the Dominican student blog of the Province of St. Joseph, and is reprinted here with kind permission. 

Photo by Viktor Talashuk on Unsplash

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Br. Joseph Martin Hagan graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2009. The following year, he spent trekking around Ireland, serving with N.E.T. Ministries. Then, he returned to Notre Dame's Echo program and completed an M.A. in theology, while serving in the Diocese of Wilmington, DE. Br. Joseph entered the Order of Preachers in 2012.

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