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FOR BISHOPS

 

 

THE GLUTTONOUS AND THE ABSTEMIOUS

Talkativeness, levity of conduct and impurity accompany the gluttonous. Impatience and pride accompany the abstemious. Thus, Dives, feasting sumptuously, committed sins of the tongue. . .thus, his tongue needed water for cooling. 

The gluttonous Israelites rose up to dance and play, exhibiting levity of conduct. Also, when the belly is distended, the pricking of lust is aroused. God declared: "Upon thy breast and belly shalt thou crawl," to the serpent in Paradise, signifying that the devil's dominion shall be man's heart and belly.

Impurity follows gluttony. When the belly is distended through gluttony, the virtues of the soul are ruined by impurity. On the other hand, when St. Peter encouraged abstinence, he immediately added patience. And Paul warns the abstemious of pride. For, when the flesh is fasted too much, humility is displayed outwardly, but, inwardly, there is grievous pride on account of that very humility. Thus, the Pharisee exclaimed, "I have fasted twice a week," with pride.

The gluttonous will avoid impurity if he gives up the desire for the pleasures of food. Avoid loquacity and levity of mind, too. Our first parents fell due to intemperance; it shall also be our fall.

The abstemious must be warned that, running away from gluttony, they might fall into impatience; that, while subduing the flesh, the soul might be overcome by anger.

"Sanctify a fast," i.e. add something good to your fasting. Give to the poor what you subtract from your nourishment. A fast is "not unto God" if what you deny your belly for a time is reserved and given to the belly later.

Gluttonous, be warned: "Take heed. . .lest your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness. . . and those days come upon you suddenly.

The abstemious must know: "Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but, what cometh out, this defileth a man."

The glutton should not love the food of the flesh inordinately; the abstemious must not condemn the things he abstains from. 

St. Gregory the Great: Pastoral Care,  Part III,19

 

 


 

(03-10-03)

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