“In certain cases, the spirit follows the inclinations of nature like a slave. The body takes the upper hand, rouses the passions and drives us to demand selfish pleasure. Then the spirit gives in to the body and even supplies it with the necessary means to satisfy its lusts.
This is not the experience of everyone. Those who are holy do not behave like that. In them it is the spirit that gives the orders and chooses what is truly useful and has the upper hand over the body.” St. Gregory of Nyssa, The Creation of Man, 14.
Let us seek to ask ourselves this lenten season, “Have I become a slave of my passions?” or perhaps, “Am I letting myself be controlled by my own desires?” This is particularly relevant as we read that Christ was “led by the Spirit” into the wilderness (Cf. Matthew 4.1., Luke 4.1., Mark 1.12-13). Have we attuned ourselves to hearing the voice of God amidst the chaos of the world and the many passions that assail us?
Thus, we can take this lenten time to attune our ears to the voice of God so that we too can venture into the desert and truly say, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4.4).” Let us recall that we fast, not because the body or food is evil. Rather we use our bodies to discipline our minds so that we can truly learn that truth that we do not depend on any of our creature comforts or pleasures. Rather it is in God, “In whom we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17.28).”
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