Gluttony

The Didache

And concerning food, bear what you are able; but against that which is sacrificed to idols be exceedingly careful; for it is the service of dead gods.

Ignatius

I have no delight in the food of corruption or in the delights of this life. I desire the bread of God, which is the flesh of Christ who was of the seed of David; and for a draught I desire His blood, which is love incorruptible.

Letter to Diognetus

The soul when poorly treated in the matter of food and drinks is improved; and so Christians when punished increase more and more daily.

Shepherd of Hermas

(When the angry temper) insinuates itself into the heart of the man, and for no cause whatever the man or the woman is embittered on account of worldly matters, either about food, or something trivial…

“Sir,” say I, “are they from which we must be temperate and abstain?” “Listen,” said he; “from adultery and fornication, from the lawlessness of drunkenness, from wicked luxury, from many kinds of foods and the costliness of riches.”- ibid

“Listen,” [said he,] “through what works the evil desire brings death to the servants of God. Before all is desire for the wife or husband of another, and for extravagance of wealth, and for many needless things to eat and drink and other luxuries, many and foolish. For even luxury is foolish and vain for the servants of God.”- ibid

Justin Martyr

But we lay hands on and take of all herbs which are sweet, very nourishing and good, whether they are marine or land plants.

And your public assemblies I have come to hate. For there are excessive banqueting, and subtle flutes which provoke to lustful movements, and useless and luxurious anointings, and crowning with garlands. With such a mass of evils do you banish shame; and you fill your minds with them, and are carried away by intemperance, and indulge as a common practice in wicked and insane fornication. – ibid

Tatian

What noble thing have you produced by your pursuit of philosophy? Who of your most eminent men has been free from vain boasting? Diogenes, who made such a parade of his independence with his tub, was seized with a bowel complaint through eating a raw polypus, and so lost his life by gluttony. Aristippus, walking about in a purple robe, led a profligate life, in accordance with his professed opinions. Plato, a philosopher, was sold by Dionysius for his gormandizing propensities.

Clement of Alexandria

Some men, in truth, live that they may eat, as the irrational creatures, “whose life is their belly, and nothing else.” But the Instructor commands us to eat that we may live. For neither is food our business, nor is pleasure our aim; but both are on account of our life here, which the Word is training up to immortality. Wherefore also there is discrimination to be employed in reference to food. And it is to be simple, truly plain, suiting precisely simple and artless children – as ministering to life, not to luxury. And the life to which it conduces consists of two things – health and strength; to which plainness of fare is most suitable, being conducive both to digestion and lightness of body, from which come growth, and health, and right strength, not strength that is wrong or dangerous and wretched, as is that of athletes produced by compulsory feeding.

Altering these by means of condiments, the gluttons gape for the sauces. “Whatever earth and the depths of the sea, and the unmeasured space of the air produce,” they cater for their gluttony. In their greed and solicitude, the gluttons seem absolutely to sweep the world with a drag-net to gratify their luxurious tastes. These gluttons, surrounded with the sound of hissing frying-pans, and wearing their whole life away at the pestle and mortar, cling to matter like fire. More than that, they emasculate plain food, namely bread, by straining off the nourishing part of the grain, so that the necessary part of food becomes matter of reproach to luxury. – ibid

“Desire not,” says the Scripture, “rich men’s dainties;” for they belong to a false and base life. They partake of luxurious dishes, which a little after go to the dunghill. But we who seek the heavenly bread must role the belly, which is beneath heaven, and much more the things which are agreeable to it, which “God shall destroy,” says the apostle, justly execrating gluttonous desires. For “meats are for the belly,” for on them depends this truly carnal and destructive life. – ibid

But let our diet be light and digestible, and suitable for keeping awake, unmixed with diverse varieties. Nor is this a point which is beyond the sphere of discipline. – ibid

For we do not abolish social intercourse, but look with suspicion on the snares of custom, and regard them as a calamity. Wherefore daintiness is to be shunned, and we are to partake of few and necessary things. “And if one of the unbelievers call us to a feast, and we determine to go” (for it is a good thing not to mix with the dissolute), the apostle bids us “eat what is set before us, asking no questions for conscience sake.” Similarly he has commanded to purchase “what is sold in the shambles,” without curious questioning. We are not, then, to abstain wholly from various kinds of food, but only are not to be taken up about them. – ibid

Wherefore we must guard against those articles of food which persuade us to eat when we are not hungry, bewitching the appetite. … Accordingly, the apostle Matthew partook of seeds, and nuts, and vegetables, without flesh. And John, who carded temperance to the extreme, “ate locusts and wild honey.” – ibid

Pleasure has often produced in men harm and pain; and full feeding begets in the soul uneasiness, and forgetfulness, and foolishness.  ibid

I therefore admire those who have adopted an austere life, and who are fond of water, the medicine of temperance, and flee as far as possible from wine, shunning it as they would the danger of fire. – ibid

Socrates accordingly bids “people guard against enticements to eat when they are not hungry, and to drink when not thirsty.” – ibid

“For wine,” says Androcydes, “and gluttonous feeds of flesh make the body strong, but the soul more sluggish.” Accordingly such food, in order to clear understanding, is to be rejected. – ibid

The vivid remembrance of death is a check upon diet; and when the diet is lessened, the passions are diminished along with it. – ibid

Commodianus

When the Lord says that man should eat bread with groaning, here what are you now doing, who desire to live with joy? You seek to rescind the judgment uttered by the highest God when He first formed man; you wish to abandon the curb of the law. If the Almighty God has bidden you live with sweat, you who are living in pleasure will already be a stranger to Him. The Scripture said that the Lord was angry with the Jews. Their sons, refreshed with food, rose up to play.

Tertullian

Are there not some who prohibit to themselves (the use of) the very “creature of God,” abstaining from wine and animal food, the enjoyments of which border upon no peril or solicitude; but they sacrifice to God the humility of their soul even in the chastened use of food?

 

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