Are we filling up on junk food?

By Brenda Hopf

Connecting Faith and Life

Spring was slow to come, and I became impatient waiting for my perennials to show signs of new life. I was thrilled when I saw my four rose bushes were finally getting leaves, but then noticed bugs had already been nibbling on the new greenery. The weather became cool again, and we had several days of rain. The next time I checked, I was shocked to see that most of the new leaves had been devoured. 

I was not happy with myself for not staying on top of this, but I soon let that thought pass as I began to marvel at the appetite of the insects that were chowing down on my rose bushes. Living creatures have a natural physical craving to hunger and thirst in order to survive and thrive. Just as I was marveling at how nature works, suddenly, without warning, I switched gears from thinking about physical hunger and thirst to a sadness that has become a daily heartache of mine – so much so that I have even cried.  Like many of you, I have family, friends and neighbors whose spiritual hunger and thirst to participate in the family meal with Jesus every Sunday has fallen by the wayside.

If only spiritual hunger was as intense as physical hunger; or is it?  How do we satisfy physical hunger and thirst? Do we sometimes grab junk food to satisfy our appetite, which in turn replaces what is truly essential to nourish our physical bodies? Could it be that, similarly, our days are filled with things that get in the way of satisfying our spiritual hunger and thirst? 

I do believe that a form of junk food fills the need to satisfy our spiritual hunger more often than we’d like to admit. I am as guilty as anyone. We allow our lives to be monopolized with work, sports, social media, video games, hunting, money, television and a plethora of otherworldly things – leaving little time for spiritual food. I worked in a factory for 42 years, and I remember the days we tried to do it all with our family. By the grace of God, though, we somehow managed to not let the junk food completely fill us.  Thankfully, we never missed gathering around the family table with Jesus every weekend to receive His miraculous spiritual food and drink, filling us with the grace needed to face life’s challenges. 

Missing Sunday Mass can happen so easily. Miss one Sunday. Then miss another. Eventually, gathering for Sunday worship goes further to the bottom of our spiritual-food list; and before you know it, we are consuming so much junk food that the spiritual food we once feasted on at Sunday Mass is no longer on the list. 

What can we do to get this nourishing spiritual food back to the top of the list? I do not have a definitive answer; but I can tell you my aching heart is searching, and I am willing to do whatever I can to bring back even one person. Humbly, I admit, I need help and guidance.

There is good news. Help is on the horizon. In just a couple of weeks the Diocese of Evansville and the Catholic Church across the United States will begin a Eucharistic Renewal. I am anxious to see the plan unfold and beyond excited to hear that the story of Blessed Carlo Acutis, who died in 2006 at the age of 15, is part of the plan (visit With this news, I have a renewed sense of hope because I have humbly prayed for Blessed Carlo’s intercession on many occasions. 

Let us all be renewed in faith as we strive to consume less junk food; and by our prayers and example, may many be emboldened to gather again around the family table of the Eucharist with Jesus every Sunday. 

Blessed Carlo Acutis, pray for us.

Brenda Hopf is a member of Divine Mercy Parish in Dubois County and also contributes to the “Sharing the Load” column in The Message.