Fasting is good, as St. Gregory the Great told a congregation getting ready for Lent. But we abstain from good things for the sake of better things. We must not insult the Creator by supposing, like the Manichean heretics, that the food he created is evil in itself.
Let us beware of the Adversary’s wiles, not only in the enticements of the palate, but also when we decide to abstain. For he who knew how to bring death on mankind through food also knows how to harm us even through our fasting. He uses the Manicheans as his tools. As he once drove mankind to take what was forbidden, so in the other direction he prompts them to avoid what is allowed.
It certainly is helpful to get used to a meager diet, and not to have too much appetite for luxurious foods. But woe to those dogmatic people whose very fasting is turned to sin. They condemn the creation’s nature, and insult the Creator. They say that they are defiled by eating things that they think the devil, not God, created.
But nothing that exists is evil, nor is anything really bad in nature. The good Creator made all things good, and there is only one Maker of the universe, “who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them” (Psalm 146:6).
Whatever in that creation is given to mankind for food and drink is holy and clean after its kind. But if it is taken too greedily, it is the excess that disgraces those who eat and drink, not the nature of the food or drink that defiles them. “To the pure all things are pure,” as the Apostle says, “but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure; their very minds and consciences are corrupted” (Titus 1:15).
–St. Gregory the Great, Sermon 42, 4
IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
Do I honor or insult God’s creation by the way I use the gifts he has given me?
Father, let me never fail to praise you for the good things you send me, for you alone give what is necessary to everything that lives.
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