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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XI:
The Works of John Cassian.: Chapter VII. How bodily weakness need not interfere with purity of heart.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter VII.

How bodily weakness need not interfere with purity of heart.

Bodily weakness is no hindrance to purity of heart, if only so much food is taken as the bodily weakness requires, and not what pleasure asks for. It is easier to find men who altogether abstain from the more fattening kinds of foods than men who make a moderate use of what is allowed to our necessities; and men who deny themselves everything out of love of continence than men who taking food on the plea of weakness preserve the due measure of what is sufficient. 829 For bodily weakness has its glory of self-restraint, where though food is permitted to the failing body, a man deprives himself of his refreshment. although he needs it, and only indulges in just so much food as the strict judgment of temperance decides to be sufficient for the necessities of life, and not what the longing appetite asks for. The more delicate foods, as they conduce to bodily health, so they need not destroy the purity of chastity, if they are taken in moderation. For whatever strength 830 is gained by partaking of them is used up in the toil and waste of care. Wherefore as no state of life can be deprived of the virtue of abstinence, so to none is the crown of perfection denied.



Petschenig’s text in this passage is as follows: “Facilius vidimus viros qui ab escis corpulentioribus omnimodis temperarent, quam moderate usos pro necessitate concessis, et qui totum sibi pro amore continentiæ denegarent, quam qui eas sub infirmitatis occasione sumentes mensuram sufficientiæ custodirent.” Gazæus gives something quite different: “Facilius vidimus victos qui ab escis corpulentioribus omnimodis temperarent, quas moderate usus pro necessitate concedit, et qui totum sibi pro continentiæ amore denegarent; quam qui eas sub infirmitatis occasione sumentes mensuram sufficientiæ custodirent.”


Quidquid enim fortitudinis.—Petschenig. Gazæus has “Quid quid enim fortitudinis causa.”

Next: Chapter VIII. How food should be taken with regard to the aim at perfect continence.

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