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§ 4. Bodily Refreshment.

Be moderate in taking food and drink, and avoid 131all unbecoming voracity, and eagerness for sensual pleasure. If, perchance, simple and rough fare is provided, let not the patience and peace of thy heart be lost by murmuring: but receive with thanksgiving what is given and provided by God. Even if exquisite dainties be provided;22   Rom. xiii. 13. yet seek not by desire the indulgence of thy flesh, nor dwell upon the earthly pleasure that thou feelest. Be ashamed to seek after dainties beyond thy reasonable and just wants, when for thee thy Lord Jesus Christ was given gall and vinegar to drink.33   Ps. lxviii. 22; St John xix. 29. Judge thyself unworthy to receive even black bread.

When thou art especially tempted by greediness and an inordinate appetite, reflect how quickly this enticing pleasure passes away, and how pernicious it is. Doubtless, if thou shalt have followed it, and satisfied it without restraint, thou wilt afterwards grieve for having done so; but if thou shalt have curbed thy evil appetite for the sake of God, and kept thyself clean, thou wilt indeed rejoice in thy conscience. In order to feed the devotion of thy mind while thou art eating, thou mayest (if thou art not prevented) mentally dip the morsels which thou takest in the Precious Blood of Christ, and take thy drink from His crimson Wounds. Thou mayest also, while thou eatest, ruminate on these words, “May the virtue of Thy divine love, my beloved Jesus, incorporate me and unite me intimately with Thee;” and when thou drinkest reflect on these, “May the sweetness of Thy divine charity, most loving Jesus, 132flow into my inmost heart, and penetrate my whole substance, to Thy eternal praise.” In places, how ever, where there is sacred reading during meals, thou shouldst, as is fitting, attend to what is read, if thou canst understand it.

If thou shouldst, perchance, have slightly transgressed the bounds of temperance (which may easily happen, even to a pious man), pray God humbly to pardon thy want of moderation; and being thus cleansed, be of good courage. He who, setting aside sobriety, gorges himself with much meat and drink, after the manner of swine, leaves no room within himself for the Holy Spirit and the grace of God.

Thou mayest, no doubt, blamelessly grant solace to thy body by eating, drinking, resting, sleeping, and taking care of thy health.

A certain very holy virgin, when she had given such refreshment to her body, rejoiced as if she had given it to Christ, who said, “As long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me ” (St. Matth. xxv. 40); for she considered herself one of His least brethren. Refresh, therefore, and revive thy body with discretion, to the eternal glory of God, in union with that love by which the sweet Jesus, made Man for thee, deigned while on earth to cat and drink, to rest and sleep; and offer to Him, in union with the same love, the bodily refreshment which thou permittest to thyself. For when we thus piously receive it. and offer it to God, united by prayer or by desire to the love and charity of Christ, 133it becomes very pleasing to Him, and very profitable to ourselves.


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