St John Chrysostom many times in his sermons remonstrated against the indulgences of the rich. In the following passage, he shows great medical understanding also. In our day, with diabetes and obesity at epidemic levels, and all sorts of cancers and other maladies that are diet related, reputable doctors would certainly agree with him.
Regarding the rich man who indulges himself and is beggarly concerning the poor he says:
And his enjoyment of the earth is no more than yours; for sure he fills not ten stomachs, and thou only one. 'But he partakes of costlier meats?' Truly, this is no mighty superiority; howbeit, even here, we shall find you to have the advantage. For this costliness is therefore thought by you a matter of envy because the pleasure with it is greater. Yet this is greater in the poor man's case; yet not pleasure only, but health also; and in this alone is the advantage with the rich, that he makes his constitution feebler and collects more abundant fountains of disease. For the poor man's diet is all ordered according to nature, but his through its excess results in corruption and disease. (St John Chrysostom, Homily 12 on Second Corinthians)
The lesson here is that self-indulgence kills. It absolutely kills the spirit, and even in this life will usually kills the body, by degrees.
Thank God that we have a remedy for self-indulgence, which leads to so many ills! We have temperate fasting, which, if practiced with dedication, is healthy for the body and the soul.
I encourage you to fast, even if it is only a little. Any departure from unbridled self-indulgence is good for the soul.
If you normally eat meat every day, or whatever is at hand, develop the custom of abstaining from it on Wednesday and Friday, or even, if you feel this is too onerous, eat only chicken or fish on that day. Do everything with the guidance of your confessor. There is a general fasting rule, and it is beneficial to follow, but, as in almost everything, if we are weak we will benefit by approaching our goal by degrees.
Try to fast a little better, and be sure to add a little more prayer on those days. Your spirit and your body will become healthier. Do not do this alone. Talk to your confessor. May God bless you.
Priest Seraphim Holland 2011 St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas
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