The Holy Fathers on Abstinence

Let’s not try to outdo each other’s imprudence (and all that is superfluous and unnecessary… is imprudence), especially when others created from the same matter and composition as us are hungry and needy.

St. Gregory the Theologian

These (spiritual virtues) include general abstinence, i. e. the disengagement from all passions, for there is another partial abstinence in corporeal affairs. This latter, however, teaches us to eat and drink, whereas the former holds back every thought and every movement of our members that is not acceptable to God, which is called abstaining from all passions. It does not tolerate any thought or word, or movement of the hand or foot, or any other member of the body other than the necessary use of them, that is, to be able to survive and be saved.

Saint Peter of Damascus

It is our duty to train ourselves to act in abstinence, so that it may be easier for us to follow our Lord.

Saint Philotheus of Sinai

Do not be greedy and devour food, lest your old sins be renewed in you.

Saint Anthony the Great

The Lord loves the abstinence used to subjugate carnal wisdom; for it makes us holy through the exhaustion of the flesh.

For equal harm is done to the soul in both cases – when the flesh is disobedient and surrenders to fierce urges due to excess health, and when it is exhausted, paralyzed, and motionless.

Saint Basil the Great

The unbridled finds pleasure in verbiage and empty talk.

Because of the abstinence you have exhausted yourself with, your beauty will shine in the Divine House.

Saint Ephraim the Syrian

Take care of your body as the temple of God. Take care of it: it must resurrect, and you must give God an account of what you did to your body. As much as you care for the healing of your body when it is sick, so much care to prepare it for resurrection by cleansing it from all passions.

Holy Abba Isaiah

When the soul is adorned, then the body that has bonded with the soul will embrace beauty in due time, when this corruptible – according to the testimony of the Apostle – will put on incorruption (1 Cor. 15:54). The more the soul is adorned now, the more beauty the body will receive after the resurrection. The more the body is embellished now while the soul is neglected, the more disgrace will ensue for both the soul and the body. Nowadays, its (the soul’s) beauty is not visible through the body, but then its radiance will appear. Then the soul will be like the sun, its beauty will shine, and its goodness will appear clearly.

Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk

A self-controlled man who seeks justice lives with the Angels and imitates their glory.

Saint John Chrysostom

Who does not abstain in all things, how will he be merciful to the hungry or deprived?

Saint Macarius of Egypt

The ultimate goal of abstinence is not to bring about physical fatigue, but to serve the needs of the soul in the most effective way.

Saint Gregory of Nyssa

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