When we are before food at table we are faced at some point with this choice: to stop eating or to continue. That is the point at which we experience the temptation to gluttony. We may want to continue to eat because the food is tasty, or because we want to continue to fill our belly. Usually, at the point that we are faced with the choice to stop eating or to continue, it is quite clear to us why we want to keep eating. As we have already said in another post, there are two aspects to gluttony: the desire for tasty food and the desire to fill our belly.
How do monks approach temperance in regard to food and drink?
First of all, in the Orthodox Church, monks do not eat meat. This custom, which goes back all the way to Fourth-Century Egypt, and is perhaps hinted at in the New Testament, is found even today in some of the more monastic congregations in the Roman Catholic Church, such as the Cistercians.
It should be obvious that abstention from meat changes the psychological ambience of the monastery in subtle ways. Monks are less aggressive, less sexually charged.
Next, the Orthodox Church has complex fasting rules, which require that on many days, the monk abstain from dairy products and fish, eating only vegetables cooked without oil. Mere adherence to the Church’s fasting rules brings about a change in the monk’s overall diet (and, indeed, in the diet of the lay person who carefully follows those same rules).
In the coenobitical monastery, no great effort is made to put all the monks onto a severe fasting diet suitable for hermits. The coenobitical monastery is the training ground, and the diet in it is moderate in reflection of this.
However, some points can be made about the proper diet in a coenobitical monastery; these points can be taken as starting points for discussions of more ascetical diets.
The food should be edible. We once visited a non-Orthodox house that had—frankly—inedible food. They thought that this was being ascetical. They even had a sign that visitors should not insult the cooks by not eating from all of the foods. This is nonsense. This is false asceticism.
First of all the important thing is - how do we avoid falling into unclean thoughts, which left unchecked may lead into unclean activities as well? This is actually part of a larger issue - how do we expel and uproot our "passions" (many of which have little or nothing to do with sex, by the way), and lead lives that are pleasing to God?
As Christians, we should want to please God in all things. If we love God, we will want to keep his commandments. How are we to do this? Intuitively, we know we cannot do this on our own power, but there is another piece of knowledge which is crucial to our success.
Those who are Orthodox Christians, and live their lives in accordance with the "mind of the church", which is nothing less than the mind of Christ, have many "resources" to fall back on. We understand fro
The Triodion is an ecclesiastical period which lasts for ten weeks. This period is not a fixed one because it depends on the date of the celebration of Easter. It is called Triodion of fasting because the larger part of it falls during the period of Great Lent, mainly a period of fasting. On the contrary, the Triodion of Flowers is a happy period found in the Pentecostarion, which starts on Easter Sunday and ends on the Sunday of All Saints.
The Triodion of Fasting starts with the Sunday of the Pharisee and the Tax-collector and ends on the Great and Holy Saturday. It is mainly a period of spiritual struggle. During this period, the Church calls the faithful to increase and strengthen their prayer even more. With the collection of their thoughts, self-examination, a contrite heart, humbleness and realisation of their sinfulness. Christians are called to repent, confess their sins and to struggle in order that they may correct themselves. To be able to do all of this successfully, our Loving Mother, the Church, through its various divine services, tries to improve