Sunday, December 28, 2008

Seeking after sauces and seasonings for the enjoyment of the palate.

Early Church leaders (e.g., St. Gregory the Great, St. Thomas Aquinas) took a more expansive view of gluttony, arguing that it also consists in an anticipation of meals, the eating of delicacies, and costly foods, seeking after sauces and seasonings, and eating too eagerly.[2]

St. Gregory the Great, a doctor of the Church, described five ways by which one can commit sin of gluttony, and corresponding biblical examples for each of them:[3]

1. Eating before the time of meal in order to satisfy the palate.

Biblical example: Jonathan eating a little honey, when his father Saul commanded no food to be taken before the evening.

2. Seeking delicacies and better quality of food to gratify the "vile sense of taste."

Biblical example: When Israelites escaping from Egypt complained, "Who shall give us flesh to eat ? We remember the fish which we did eat in Egypt freely ; the cucumbers and the melons, and the leeks and the onions and the garlic," God rained fowls for them to eat but punished them 500 years later.

3. Seeking after sauces and seasonings for the enjoyment of the palate.

Biblical example: Two sons of Eli the high priest made the sacrificial meat to be cooked in one manner rather than another. They were met with death.

4. Exceeding the necessary amount of food.

Biblical example: One of the sins of Sodom was "fullness of bread."

5. Taking food with too much eagerness, even when eating the proper amount, and even if the food is not luxurious.

Biblical example: Esau selling his birthright for ordinary food of bread and pottage of lentils. His punishment was that the "profane person . . . who, for a morsel of meat sold his birthright," we learn that " he found no place for repentance, though he sought it carefully, with tears."
The fifth way is worse than all others, said St. Gregory, because it shows attachment to pleasure most clearly among others.

To recapitulate, St. Gregory the Great said that one may succumb to the sin of gluttony by:

  1. Time (when)
  2. Quality
  3. Stimulants
  4. Quantity
  5. Eagerness

Full document from which the Wiki summary is derived:

The sin of gluttony, when considered in the practical details of every-day life, is not altogether so well suited for minute analysis as some of the deadly sins which have been discussed from this place. I purpose, therefore, to adopt a plan different in this case from the plan adopted in former cases. I shall not enter into minute detail. In the lieu of such detail, gathered either from experience in myself, or from observation of others, I am content to quote from the teaching, and thus to be sheltered under the authority, of a Saint, Bishop and Doctor of the Church. What has been already laid before you, indeed, on the other capital sins, has also been collected from masters of the spiritual life: and hence comes any value which may attach to such collected thoughts. But hitherto, the estimates or examples have been sometimes altered or re-arranged, have been sometimes enlarged or contracted, and have been always adapted to the necessities of modern life. Now, however, I propose to quote the Saint's analysis of the sin, somewhat developed indeed, but almost in his very words. There will be benefit to all concerned in such a treatment of such a sin. I shall speak with authority. You will assent without question. And both of us will be edified by the systematic and exhaustive, and withal the devout and scriptural estimate of the sin of gluttony, which an ancient Father has handed down to us as the teaching of the Church of his day on a matter of morals.

The analysis of the sin of gluttony by S. Gregory the Great, is concerned with one feature alone of this twofold sin. The Saint confines his attention to the popular meaning of the term, as equivalent to viciousness in the use of food. He also treats the vice as a personal sin, as distinct from a sin against society. And he does not descend into particulars, in regard to gross or vulgar excess. Thus, the Saint's method harmonises excellently well with our own plan, and with the requirements of the present day, specially with a view to the circumstances of those to whom I speak, and to the times in which we live. To this prefatory statement, I need only call to mind two points of which we must not lose sight. First: That the sin of gluttony consists in an inordinate and selfish desire for the sensual pleasure which arises from the gratification of taking food, when such desire develops into action. Secondly: That the parable of Dives and Lazarus teaches us that he, who in hell-fire lifted up his eyes being in torment, was a certain rich man who fared sumptuously every day.

We are tempted to the sin of gluttony, says the Saint and Doctor, in five different ways : and these five temptations oppose five distinct hindrances to our spiritual perfection. We will take them in order, and nearly in the language of the Father.

I. We are tempted to gluttony when, for the mere purpose of gratifying our palate, we anticipate the time of eating, by forestalling our regular hour for meals.

This is our first temptation: and you will observe that it has reference to time.

II. Without anticipating the time of eating, we may be tempted to sin in regard to the quality of our food, when we seek delicacies wherewith to pamper, what the ascetic bishop well calls, this vile sense of taste.

Quality, you will perceive, is the leading feature of the second temptation to gluttony.

III. It may further happen, that although we be content with ordinary food, and so escape the second temptation; and although we fail to anticipate the hour of our meals, and so escape the first; yet, we may fall into a third temptation. And the third incentive to gluttony, to use the Saint's words, consists in seeking after sauces and seasonings for the sensual enjoyment of the palate.

In this case, stimulants to the appetite is the third note or mark of spiritual hindrance.

IV. We may, by God's help, be free from these three temptations only to fall, by the malice of our bitter foe, into a fourth. We may avoid condiments; we may be indifferent to quality ; we may be punctual in time : but if we exceed in the amount of food which we consume, so as to partake of common dishes beyond what nature demands, we succumb to the fourth temptation of this capital sin.

Here the main point, in this fourth temptation to gluttony, consists in quantity.

V. Lastly, even if we avoid all the former means of sinfulness in the matter of eating, we may still offend against the opposite virtue of temperance, by partaking necessary food with too much eagerness.

The last note of gluttony, therefore, is marked by the mode or method of eating: and adds the holy bishop, this last fault is worse than all the others, as it is a clearer sign of our attachment to the sensual pleasure which eating affords to our natural appetite.

Hence, according to this great master of spirituality, we may become guilty of the sin of gluttony in five different ways, each of which possesses its own distinctive character, each of which may be recalled to mind by a single word. i. We may sin in the matter of time. 2. We may sin on a question of quality. 3. We may sin by the use of stimulants. 4. We may sin in relation to quantity. And 5. we may sin, lastly, from eating with undue eagerness.

Having thus enumerated the five evil inclinations which tempt us to pamper the sense of taste, the good bishop appeals to Holy Scripture to enforce his analysis of the sin, and to afford illustration of its practical working. It will be well for us to note these scriptural instances, not only as to their details, that they may be avoided ; but also, as to the punishments which severally ensued to the guilty, either by the just judgment of Almighty God or by the sentence of man.

I. With regard to the temptation of anticipating the hour of our meals, S. Gregory brings forward the example of Jonathan, the son of Saul. On the day on which the Israelites smote the Philistines from Michmash to Aijalon, and were much distressed and very faint for want of sustenance, King Saul adjured the people saying: " Cursed be the man that eateth any food until the evening." But Jonathan, we read, " heard not [or perhaps, heeded not] when his father charged the people with an oath. Wherefore he tasted a little of the wild honey of the wood." No doubt in consequence, his eyes were enlightened. But what was the immediate and supernatural result of this disobedience? GOD "answered not" unto Saul " that day" when he would take counsel of Him whether or not he should "go down after the Philistines ;" whether or not GOD would " deliver them into the hand of Israel." And when the cause of this mysterious silence was sought by lot, and the lot pointed to Saul and Jonathan as guilty, the latter made confession of his sin, and said : " I did but taste a little honey, and lo, I must die." Whilst, although the sentence was afterwards reversed by the democratic will of the people, even under so absolute a monarchy as that of Israel; yet of his own son, and for this act of implied gluttony, did Saul say: " God do so and more also, for thou shalt surely die, Jonathan."

Jonathan's case may be considered as a warning against the capital sin of gluttony in the matter of time.

2. In order to deter us from daintiness in the selection of food, the Saint next instances the gluttony of the children of Israel in the wilderness, when they murmured against Moses and Aaron. "Would to GOD (they said) we had died in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh-pots and did eat bread to the full." And also, when they " wept again and said : 'Who shall give us flesh to eat ? We remember the fish which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers and the melons, and the leeks and the onions and the garlic,' which appear to have been luxuries to them. But now, they complain, "our soul is dried away; there is nothing at all besides this manna before our eyes." And how did God punish His rebellious and discontented, though much-loved people ? God " rained flesh upon them as thick as dust: and feathered fowls like as the sand of the sea. ... So they did eat and were well filled : for He gave them their own desire; they were not disappointed of their lust." But we read a commentary upon their conduct five hundred years later, in their recorded punishment. For "while the meat was yet in their mouths, the heavy wrath of God came upon them, and slew the wealthiest of them; yea, and smote down the chosen men that were in Israel." Or, as it is elsewhere said : " The Lord smote the people with a very great plague."

The conduct of the Israelites furnishes an example of the sin of gluttony in the question of the quality of food.

3. The holy bishop calls to mind the sin of the sons of Eli, the high-priest, as an illustration of the third temptation to gluttony, namely, in the superfluous seasoning of food. " The sin of these young men was very great," says holy Scripture: " for they made the offering of God to be abhorred." And why, or how ? They appear to have been guilty in two ways. They not only desired to secure for themselves more than their legal share of the sacrificial flesh, or sought it before they were entitled to claim their allotted portion: but, they also forcibly took possession of the meat, in order that it might be cooked to suit their palate after one fashion, rather than after another. These may seem to some of us to be comparatively light faults, and hardly worth the place which is assigned to them in the sacred drama. And no doubt they were coupled in these young men with other sins which were more heinous. Yet, what does Inspiration declare concerning them ? "The sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD." What was the punishment with which God both at the time threatened them, and afterwards actually fulfilled? "This shall be a sign unto thee," said God to Eli, "that shall come upon thy two sons, Hophni and Phinehas : in one day they shall die both of them." "And it was so." For, not long after, when "the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent," that "the two sons of Eli were slain."

The fate of the sons of Eli should make us hesitate to sin by gluttony in the use of stimulants.

4. On excess in the quantity of food as a temptation to gluttony, are quoted the words of the prophet Ezekiel against the guilty city of Sodom. Apparently, no fewer than three of the deadly sins were justly chargeable against the self-doomed inhabitants, one in each of the three classes of sin, the result of imperfect love. They were guilty of pride, caused by love distorted ; of sloth, caused by love defective; of gluttony, caused by love excessive. Behold, saith God, by the mouth of His prophet: "Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom . . . fulness of bread ... in her and in her daughters: . . . therefore I took them away as I saw good." And how did it seem good unto the Good Lord to take them away ? The words "brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven," sufficiently indicate the punishment inflicted on Sodom for its sin of gluttony, as exhibited in undue excess, or in scriptural language, "fulness of bread."

The guilty cities of the plain teach us a lesson, perhaps unexpected, in the capital sin we are discussing, in relation to quantity.

5. As a warning against over eagerness in eating even coarse and common food, the Saint adduces the case of Esau, whose greediness in partaking of "bread and pottage of lentiles" is apparent, from his having sold his birthright for so mean a price. Thus, saith the Spirit of God, in the calm, dispassionate terms of sacred history when recording the sin of man, "thus Esau despised his birthright." And how was this form of gluttony punished ? Eighteen centuries after the event, we have this inspired comment on the conduct of Esau, which reveals his punishment, till then unknown to the world. Of the "profane person . . . who, for a morsel of meat sold his birthright," we learn that "he found no place for repentance, though he sought it carefully, with tears."

Esau's greediness thus stands as a monument preserved by God, to teach us to avoid that form of the sin of gluttony which arises from eating with undue eagerness.

These five species of the sin of gluttony, which, as I have said, may be remembered by as many single words—time, quality, stimulants, quantity, and eagerness—may be reduced, as a commentator on the Saint's words has pointed out, to two generic heads. The vice may be reduced

1. To a search after the indulgence of the palate; and

2. To the pleasure which ensues from the act of eating.

A little consideration will show the truth of this arrangement. Why, urges the writer in question, why is it an imperfection to forestall the hour of our meals, but that this argues an impatience to indulge our palate ? Why is it blameworthy to search after costly dishes and savoury sauces, except that such misapplied industry comes from a desire to give pleasure to the taste ? Why is it sinful to eat to excess ? Because it is a sign that we eat not from necessity, but for indulgence. And the same may be said when we allow ourselves to consume our necessary food with too much eagerness.

From The Exercises of a Christian Life:

THE second sinne of the flesh is Gluttony, a great frend and fostrer of lasciuiousnes; sith, when the panch is puffed vp, and the fleshe too delicately fedd, this fire is quickly kindled; and a man falleth easily into the filth of lecherie, accor|ding as the scriptures * doo in sundry places admonish vs. It behoueth thee therfore to be armed at al assayes a|gainst this vice, which is the dore & entrance of many others; and of the victory and conquest wherof depen|deth the victory and conquest of the rest. Whervpon those holy auncient fathers that liued earst in the wilder|nes, endeuoured them-selues al they might, to dompt and suppresse this vice; woting wel, that but if this wer firste fullye vanquished, the other Page [unnumbered]could very hardly be subdued. Yea, experience teacheth this for truth; howe the deuil most commonly be|ginneth to geue his first on-set with this temptation. Witnesses hereof are our first * Parents Adam and Eue; yea, the very first teptation he propouded to our Lord * and Sauiour Iesus Christe, was of this sort. Wherfore, to defende thee from this so venemous a vice, being one that doth hatch and breed so many other, apply these remedies and aduises folowing. *

THE FIRST is, that in thy eating thou seeke to obserue fiue thinges, that preserue thee from fiue sundrye sortes of gluttony; wherof S * Grego|rie doth in one of his bookes make mention.

The first is concerning the time, when a man eateth before his ordinary houre; which thou must be|ware of; * forbearing and forcing thy selfe not to take aboue two repasts a day; to wit, thy dinner and supper; Page 112 and that at such conuenient and ac|customed houres, as they keepe, that gouerne them-selues most orderlye; more thē at which times thou ough|test not to eate, without some nota|ble necessitie. If therefore thou finde thy selfe at any time tempted to in|fringe this rule, and without suffici|ent cause to anticipate thine houre, thou must fight, and make a forcible resistance; as did that monke which * is written of in the liues of holye fa|thers; who on a time being tempted to eate in the morning before his ac|customed houre, beguiled him-selfe in this maner, saying: Tarye a while vntil the thirde houre (which is at nine a clocke in the morning) and then wil we eate. And when this houre was come; go too, let vs worke a while vntil the sixt houre (to witt, noone:) afterwardes, nowe let vs saye a fewe prayers or psalmes; nowe Page [unnumbered]let vs lay our bisquit to steepe; and thus passed on the time, til his ordi|narye howre was come, which was at the ninth hour, to wit, (three a clocke at after-noone;) & by this means was he perfectly deliuered from this vice.

THE SECOND kind of gluttonie * in the qualitie; I meane, in eating of too daintie and pleasaunt * meates, wherof thou must take great heede, contenting thy selfe with such meates, as may suffice to susteine and fleshe; and not to delite and it; according to that S. Bernard * doth exhort thee; and but if they seeme course and vnsauourye, apply that saulce which he * to hunger; that shal cause them to seem sauourie ynough. Remember thee also of that singuler abstinence of the auncient fathers of Egipt, who deemed it superfluous to eate any sodden [cooked] meates, as S. Ierome telleth vs. Let therefore this their ri|goure *Page 113 shame and confounde thy ri|ot, and make thee refraine eating of delicate and sweete meates, for feare thou be like to those amongst the people of Israel; * that desired flesh in the desert, and thereby prouoked the wrath and indignation of God a|gainst them.

THE THIRD kinde of gluttonye * concerneth the quantitie, that is, of eating more then sufficeth to sustein nature; wherof foloweth (as S. Ierome saith) that looke by how much the more the bel|lye*is filled, and by so much the more is the soule made feeble. Thou must therefore shun such excesse; sith meate is (according to S. * Austins counsail) to be taken in maner of a medicine; whereof we vse not to receaue anye great quantitie. Take heede then of ouercharging thy heart with too much meate and drinke; as our Sauior doth admonish * vs, that by this meanes thou maiest escape his future indignation; and a Page [unnumbered] million of mischiefes * that proceede out of this vice.

THE FOVRTH kinde of gluttonye * respecteth the maner. When a man eateth his meat too greedily, and with too great a feruour: which appereth * wel by his hastie and disorderly fee|ding; and when he is too muche bent and affectionate vpon his meate. This vice doth the wise man * in these wordes reprehend, saying: Long not af|ter euery kind of meate, nor eate not greedilye vpon euery dishe. Whose counsaile see thou endeuour thy self to folow, min|ding not so seriouslye thy corporal foode and nutriture whiles thou ea|test; but either listen to the lesson, if there be any read; or lift vp thy mind to God with some good thought; or enterlace som praier or psalm amōgst; that by thus doing both thy soule & body may be fostred & fed together.

THE FIFT and last kinde of glut|tonie, * is an excessiue eare and thoght to seek out of cates & new|fangled Page 114 tasts; which thou oughtest (as * a very blame-worthy thing) greatlye to eschewe and beware of, for feare of being like to those the Apostle * spea|keth of, that make their belies their God, see|king with as great care to serue and satisfie it; as were requisite for dis|charge of their dueties to God-ward.

Catechism of St. Robert Bellarmine

What is Gluttonie, what sinnes produceth it, and what is the reme|die against it?


Gluttonie is a disordinate appe|tite of eating & drinking: which cō|sisteth in taking more meate then is conuenient, in seeking too pretious Page 265meates, in desiring forbidden meats, as flesh on the Friday and Saturday, in not exspecting the houre of ea|ting on fasting daies, and finally in eating with too great desire & ea|gernesse. The sinnes which come of gluttonie, are obscuritie of vnder|standing, vaine mirth, and babling, And often of Gluttonie, commeth Leacherie, with all the sinnes which proceed thereof. The remedie is to attende vnto temperance and absti|nence, which helpe both the soule and the bodie. And in particular it is most profitable to consider, that the delight of gluttony is very short and often leaueth behinde it long paines of the stomacke, of the head, and other like.

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