By Melanie Rigney


“And he said, “What comes out of a man is what defiles a man”” ~ Mark 7:20

Pemmican. This tasty, nutritious mix of berries, fat, and protein started with the indigenous people. So, since we were studying the people of the Plains, my third-grade public school student teacher decided to treat us to associated foods one Friday: pumpkin seeds, hominy, and pemmican. The pemmican, she said, used venison.
That evening, when I told Mom about the day, she frowned. “Vension is deer meat,” she said. “It’s Lent. Did you forget?”

Well, I hadn’t forgotten that it was the first Lent I had to abstain from meat on Fridays. I didn’t realize that included more than the beef and pork typically found on the Rigney table.

What Goes In

I barely slept that night, sure that I would die before Confession the next day and go to hell forever. (Yes, even at eight, I was given to scrupulosity.)

Since then, I’ve learned that controlling what goes into my body is easy. Lenten abstinence, staying away from rumor-mongering social media, and watching my intake of alcohol can be challenging, but they’re tangible, easily identifiable things.

What Comes Out

It can be harder to discern the danger of what comes out. Is telling someone about a mutual friend’s health issues well-intended information sharing… or gossip? Is my reluctance to give a relative more money prudent… or selfish?
I wish the answers were always as easy as that: yes, pemmican contains meat, and you shouldn’t eat it on days of abstinence, but they aren’t. The Lord knows better than I know myself what is in my heart and soul. So, I do my best to stay quiet until He shows me how to please Him and keep from defiling myself.





Jesus, please help me focus on the damage my careless words, expressions, and actions would do to You and others and learn self-regulation.

Call to Action:

Let that oh-so-clever text, email, or comment sit for an hour before you take it public. Is it true, helpful, inspiring, necessary, and kind?


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