Elder Nil Sorsky: Are You Burdening Your Heart with Gluttony?

Feast of St Julian the Martyr

Nil_Sorsky_Square.jpgIF THE URGE of gluttony vexes, recalling various and most delicious, classy dishes, which are eaten beyond need, and at the wrong time, and without measure, it is proper then first of all to recall the words spoken by the Lord: “Do not burden your hearts with overeating and drunkenness” (Lk. 21.34), and having prayed to the Lord Himself and summoned aid, to contemplate the Fathers’ dictum, that this passion in monks is the root of all evil, especially fornication.

From the beginning of life, the transgression of our progenitor, the first man Adam, was by this sin. For having touched the forbidden food, he fell away from Paradise and brought death upon the entire race, as it is written: “Beautiful for the gaze and fine for food was the fruit that killed me” (cf. Gn. 3.6). And from then even to this day, many, having submitted to the stomach have fallen with a great fall, as the holy Writings recount.

Know then, that the savor and fragrance of food soon turn into stench and manure and have nothing for profit, says Barsanuphius the Great. And having understood this, reproach yourself for desiring these, which quickly change from savor and fragrance into such stench. And thus, partaking of food in measure and at proper times, defeat the passion.

This is the measure of food, the Fathers have said: if someone sets for himself how much to receive per day, and if he concludes that it is a lot and it burdens him, he immediately subtracts from it. And if he perceives that he is eating little and cannot thereby maintain his body, he immediately adds a little. And having thus experimented well, he sets how much can sustain the power of his body, not for savor, but according to need.

And he thus receives, thanking God, and he also should condemn himself, as being unworthy even of this small comfort.

To encompass all of nature with a single rule is impossible, because bodies have a great difference in strength, as copper and iron from wax.

A general measure for neophytes is to end a little hungry.

If some one takes enough for sufficient satiety, it is without sin.

If he over-sates a little, he should reproach himself, and thus on account of a fall, raise a victory.

—Elder Nil Sorsky, On Mental Activity

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