Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Lenten Citation (1): St. Diadochos of Photiki

This Lent I will be posting some citations from the Philokalia on fasting, without commentary. I hope you find them helpful in your Lenten devotional practice.

Those pursuing the spiritual way should train themselves to hate all uncontrolled desires until this hatred becomes habitual. With regard to self-control in eating, we must never feel loathing for any kind of food, for to do so is abominable and utterly demonic. It is emphatically not because any food is bad in itself that we refrain from it. But by not eating too much or too richly we can to some extent keep in check the excitable parts of our body. In addition we can give to the poor what remains over, for this is the mark of sincere love.

St. Diadochos of Photiki


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this—I'm looking forward to the rest of the series!

Thursday, March 02, 2006 7:35:00 AM  
Blogger Wanderer said...

Loathing of any kind of food is utterly demonic???

Thursday, March 02, 2006 11:41:00 AM  
Blogger Preston said...


Pretty much, loathing of food is demonic. But let me explain.

Loathing, or hatred, is what this body of monastic literature calls "the incensive power," basically the power of anger. And, the incensive power was created for a specific purpose: to hate what is evil. But food is good. So what could be the source of hating good things? The demons.

The demons are the ones who tempt people to do evil. No pitchforks and pointy tails, exactly. They are what influence our minds and/or hearts, and are disembodied and noetic creatures. But they are alive and have being, however distorted that being is.

So the thought to hate what is good, and to misuse our incensive power in this way, has its source in maleveolent spiritual entities, and is not reccommended.

Yes, these guys are ancient in their worldview. But the more I read and understand, the more I realize they are onto something helpful, but that modern and postmodern minds are not able to express.

Thursday, March 02, 2006 2:11:00 PM  
Blogger whalesoundervish said...

Father Preston, thanks so much for the comments. What is your email? Mine is I would like to hear a little more of your experience there. Thanks so much!

Thursday, March 02, 2006 3:13:00 PM  
Blogger Wanderer said...

Well, if you bear in mind a literal interpretation of loathing, as opposed to my original thoughts along the lines of something you just can't stand eating, this paints a slightly different picture.

However, I must still argue the logic. First, that food is good. Food is not inherently good or evil. It just is. The fact that one must eat is true, but there is so much that we could eat and thus survive for a time. The preparation of some of these things might point to evil (such as the case of cannibalism), but food as its own category has no good or evil quality.

As such, loathing of food would in fact be the sign of a mental inbalance. I don't think such an inbalance could be said to be the work of demons, or demonic. It is just the case of a disturbed mind, a case that doesn't require supernatural influence.

Sunday, March 05, 2006 2:25:00 PM  
Blogger Preston said...

Wanderer, I don't think that this is about logic. It's more about fundamental assumptions, and ours are different. The Christian theological foundation of the goodness of God's creation, through it being just that - made and sustained by a good and loving God, means that creation is good. Food, being part of creation, is good in a fundamental sense. (Cannibalism is category confusion, in that humans were not made to be eaten. People aren't food.)

Yes, the point about mental unbalance is true, and any good spiritual director will carefully discern the difference between provocation and mental illness.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006 5:33:00 PM  

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