Struggle with the eight main passions: Gluttony
XI. For it is impossible for the fiery impulses of the body to be extinguished until the shoots of the other principle vices have themselves been cut off at the root... Whoever is unable to check the desire to gormandize (to eat gluttonously) will be incapable of curbing the urges of burning lust. The chastity of the inner man is discerned in the perfection of this virtue. For you will never be confident of a person's ability to struggle against stronger adversaries if you see him overcome by smaller and weaker ones in a less strenuous conflict.
XIII. . . .For it is impossible for a full stomach to undertake the struggles of the inner man, not is it right for someone to be made trial of by more violent battles if he can be overcome in a less important conflict.
XIV. The desire to gormandize, then, is the first thing that we must trample upon, to the point that the mind must be refined not only by fasting but also by vigils, as well as by reading and by frequent compunction of heart. . . . we shall never be able to spurn the pleasures of eating here and now if our mind is not fixed on divine contemplation and if it does not take delight, instead, in the love of virtue and the beauty of heavenly things.
(St.) John Cassian
The Institutes (trans. Boniface Ramsey, OP)
Thomas Merton's Practical Hints (from Cassian and the Fathers):
- the monk sets a time when he shall eat (or the time set for him by the Rule) and he takes no food or drink between meals;
- Fast of the body must be coupled with fast of the soul -- fasting from the evil food of anger, detraction, envy;
- Remember that our enemy is not food, which is outside, but self-love which is within us;
- We must avoid filling our stomachs to satiety when eating -- but eat only enough to sustain health;
- We must resist the desire for special and more succulent foods;
- To presume to fast openly more than custom or tradition indicates, is a sign of vanity and ostentation; [it is also wrong] to neglect common foods and eat other extraordinary things. (Stick to bread, says Cassian.)
- Charity comes before fasting. The Desert Fathers always broke their fast to entertain a guest. . . .