Church Fathers, Day 272: St. Leo the Great says control your body, and set your soul free


Control your body, and set your soul freeYour soul needs to take control of your body, says St. Leo the Great. By suppress­ing your bodily desires, you give yourself more time for meditation and prayer.Everyday experience, dear friends, proves that overindulgence of the flesh blunts the edge of the mind. Too much food dulls the strength of the heart. So the delights of eating work against even bodily health, unless we resist the temptation with reasonable moderation, and unless … [Read more...]

Church Fathers, Day 271: St. John Cassian says gluttony brings you down to earth

Gluttony brings you down to earthThe abbot Serapion tells St. John Cassian that we can see what gluttony is like by watching the flight of the beautiful and noble eagle.We can make an admirable illustration of the passion of gluttony—with which a monk, however spiritual and excellent, is sure to be hampered—if we compare it to the eagle.For the eagle soars above the highest clouds in its flight high in the sky, and withdraws itself from the eyes of all mortals and from the face of t … [Read more...]

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...]