Church Fathers, Day 270: St. John Cassian reminds us that the opposite of gluttony is moderation

The opposite of gluttony is moderationYou’re never too sick or weak to be virtuous, says St. John Cassian. To avoid gluttony, eat to keep yourself healthy, not to satisfy every craving.So it is very true and most excellent what the Fathers have said: that the right way to fast and abstain is found in moderation and controlling the body. This, they say, is the goal of perfect virtue for everyone: that, although we still have the desire for food, we exercise self-restraint in the food t … [Read more...]

Church Fathers, Day 269: St. Clement of Alexandria want us to be moderate and give thanks

Be moderate and give thanksYou don’t have to starve yourself to be a Christian, says St. Clement of Alex­andria. If you’re at a gourmet feast, eat moderately, show respect for your hosts, and give thanks to God.We don’t have to keep away entirely from various kinds of food. We just shouldn’t be obsessed with them. We should eat what’s set before us, as becomes a Christian, showing respect for our host by a harmless and moderate participation in the party. We should look at the luxury of … [Read more...]

Church Fathers, Day 268: St. John Cassian tells us don’t run away from sloth

Don’t run away from slothSloth, laziness, boredom—these are problems that can sap our energy for doing what needs to be done. St. John Cassian remembers the wise words of an expe­rienced monk who told him that running away from laziness will never work.When I was beginning my stay in the desert, I told Abbot Moses, the chief of all the saints, that I had been terribly troubled yesterday by an attack of laziness, and that I could only be freed from it by running at once to Abbot Paul … [Read more...]

Church Fathers, Day 267: St. Ambrose says rise above popular opinion

Rise above popular opinionIf you look to what other people think of you for your reward, says St. Ambrose, you have your reward here on earth—but you miss the reward of eternal life.Clearly, blessed is the life that is not valued by the opinion of outsiders, but is known, as judge of itself, by its own inner feelings. It needs no popular opin­ion as its reward in any way; nor has it any fear of punishments. Thus the less it strives for glory, the more it rises above it.For to those … [Read more...]

Church Fathers, Day 266: St. Augustine warns us to beware of desiring praise

Beware of desiring praiseMost of us need people to think well of us—that’s how we get and keep the jobs that feed our families. But St. Augustine warns us that it’s far too easy to let that praise go to our heads. The devil wants us to find our joy in the praise of others rather than in God.Wanting to be feared and loved by other people, for no other reason than to experience a joy that is really no joy, is a miserable life. It’s just worthless show­ing off. It leads to not loving God o … [Read more...]

Church Fathers, Day 265: St. John Cassian wants us to keep struggling against vanity

Keep struggling against vanityVanity, or “vainglory” as old English writers used to call it, is a hard vice to conquer, says St. John Cassian. When you think you’ve beaten it, then you’re proud of your victory—and vanity is back again.All vices grow feeble when conquered, and when beaten are day by day made weaker, and lessen and subside both in place and time—or at any rate, as they are unlike the opposite virtues, are more easily shunned and avoided.But vanity, when it is beaten, … [Read more...]