Tis too much proved, that with devotion’s visage And pious action we do sugar o’er The devil himself
– Polonius Hamlet Act 3 Scene 1 William Shakespeare
To Thine own self be true.
– Polonius, Hamlet Act 1 Scene 3
Sugar has tempted me since I wore a Navy Blue Uniform at St. Francis of Assisi Elementary School. At age 7, we reached the age of reason and prepared to receive our first Confession and first Holy Communion. These two sacraments welcomed us into the Church as Children of God and recognized our free will to choose good over evil.
First Holy Communion Mass occurred in Lent and coincided with Holy Thursday which was when Christ and his apostles had their last supper. Symbolically, we would become new apostles and partake of the body and blood of Christ. To make ourselves worthy of God’s love, we prepared by abstaining from our favorite thing.
My decision was easy. I’d give up candy. My devotion to abstinence was thwarted when I discovered a jar full of green, sugar coated gummy spearmint leaves tucked behind the sink in our kitchen. Despite the dark corner where it lived, I couldn’t ignore it. Finally, I opened the glass jar lid and popped one spearmint leaf into my mouth. Minty, sweet flavor eased any regret.
In school the next day, Sister Saint Holy Mother of God, spoke to us about the importance of our Lenten sacrifice. “Children, God loves you. He gave us his only Son who died for our sins on the Cross. Your Lenten sacrifice shows you are grateful for all He has given to you.”
Shamefaced, I gulped. The sweet, minty memory turned bitter.
Sister continued. “As young children, you are vulnerable to the ways of Satan. He tempts little children to stray. In fact, he has been known to turn himself into a piece of candy so children will break their Lenten Fast.”
I muffled a gasp as I realized it wasn’t a spearmint leaf at all, but Satan who entered my mouth and body yesterday afternoon!
Ashamed and horrified, I didn’t want to confess my guilt to anyone. How could I rid myself of this demon? I decided to drink a bottle of holy water that my mother kept in my bedroom. If blessing yourself with holy water could remove Satan from your thoughts, maybe it could kill him in my stomach.
Flash forward many decades, I am no longer a practicing Catholic. Sugary food remains my biggest temptation. I no longer have holy water nearby, but my Type II Diabetes is evidence that Satan haunts me.
This spring, not during Lent, I decided to go on 30-day moratorium from sugar. I followed a Whole Food Plant Based diet. Candied spearmint leaves did not tempt me. I stuck to my plan. When the sugar fast was up, I craved sugar. I caved into my craving and felt ill. I’m now monitoring my occasional indulgence. I am determined to break this sugar habit. I say a silent prayer for Satan to be gone, and treat myself to healthy food.