Friday, May 7, 2010
Thomas Aquinas and the 5 Ways... of Gluttony
Saint Thomas begins his small treatise on gluttony by quoting Pope Saint Gregory the Great, “On the contrary, Gregory says (Moral. xxx, 18) that 'unless we first tame the enemy dwelling within us, namely our gluttonous appetite, we have not even stood up to engage in the spiritual combat.' But man's inward enemy is sin. Therefore gluttony is a sin.”
We must know, however, whether gluttony is a venial or a mortal sin. For this question, Saint Thomas again quotes Saint Gregory the Great, “On the contrary, Gregory says (Moral. xxx, 18): 'As long as the vice of gluttony has a hold on a man, all that he has done valiantly is forfeited by him: and as long as the belly is unrestrained, all virtue comes to naught.' But virtue is not done away save by mortal sin. Therefore gluttony is a mortal sin.”
Finally, Saint Thomas asks in what ways one may commit the sin of gluttony. For Saint Thomas, which one can commit the sin of gluttony in five different ways.
That is: too soon, too expensively, too much, too eagerly, too daintily.
The Catholic Encyclopedia says the following:
“Gluttony is in general a venial sin in so far forth as it is an undue indulgence in a thing which is in itself neither good nor bad. Of course it is obvious that a different estimate would have to be given of one so wedded to the pleasures of the table as to absolutely and without qualification live merely to eat and drink, so minded as to be of the number of those, described by the Apostle St. Paul, "whose god is their belly" (Phil., iii, 19). Such a one would be guilty of mortal sin. Likewise a person who, by excesses in eating and drinking, would have greatly impaired his health, or unfitted himself for duties for the performance of which he has a grave obligation, would be justly chargeable with mortal sin. St. John of the Cross, in his work "The Dark Night of the Soul" (I, vi), dissects what he calls spiritual gluttony. He explains that it is the disposition of those who, in prayer and other acts of religion, are always in search of sensible sweetness; they are those who "will feel and taste God, as if he were palpable and accessible to them not only in Communion but in all their other acts of devotion." This he declares is a very great imperfection and productive of great evils.”