Quotations for Meditation along the theme of.. 'the body'
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'He who enjoys bodily pleasures beyond the proper limit will pay for the excess a hundredfold in sufferings.'

St. Mark the Ascetic

'There are virtues of the body and virtues of the soul. Those of the body include fasting, vigils, sleeping on the ground, ministering to people's needs, working with one's hands so as not to be a burden or in order to give to others (cf. 1 Thess 2:9, Ephes. 4:28). Those of the soul include love, long-suffering, gentleness, self-control and prayer (cf. Gal: 5:22). If as a result of some constraint or bodily condition, such as illness or the like, we find we cannot practice the bodily virtues mentioned above, we are forgiven by the Lord  because He knows the reasons. But if we fail to practice the virtues of the soul, we shall not have a single excuse, for it is always within our power to practice them.

Guard yourself from the mother of vices, self-love, which is mindless love for the body. For it gives birth with specious justification to the three first and most general of the impassioned thoughts. I mean those of gluttony, avarice and self-esteem, which take their pretext some so-called need of the body. All further vices are generated by these three. You must therefore be on your guard, as we have already said, and fight against self-love-with great vigilance. For when this vice is eradicated, all the others are eradicated too.

The passion of self-love suggests to the monk that he should have pity on his body and in the name of its proper care and governance take food more often than is fitting; for in this way self-love will lead him on step by step to fall into the pit of self-indulgence. On the other hand, self-love prompts those who are not monks to fulfill the body's desires at once.

It is said that the highest state of prayer is reached when the intellect goes beyond the flesh and the world, and while praying is utterly free from matter and form. He who maintains this state has truly attained unceasing prayer.

When the body dies, it is wholly separated from the things of this world. Similarly, when the intellect dies while in that supreme state of prayer, it is separated from all conceptual images of the world. If it does not die such a death, it cannot be with God and live with him.

Let no one deceive you, monk, with the notion that you can be saved while a slave to sensual pleasure and self-esteem.'

St. Maximos the Confessor, "Second Century on Love"

He who 'wears the image of HIm who is from heaven' (1 Cor. 15:49) tries to follow the spirit of Holy Scrpiture in all things, for it is the spirit which, by promoting virtue and spiritual knowledge, sustains the soul. He who 'wears the image of him who is from earth' pays heed only to the letter, for the cultivation of the body by means of the senses is promoted by the letter. Such cultivation in turn generates the passions.

St. Maximos the Confessor, "Second Century on Various Texts"

'If I could meet a leper, give him my body and take his, I should be very happy.'

St. Agathon

'Furthermore, while the soul is withdrawn from everything and is turned within, the eye of contemplation is opened and sets itself up a ladder by which it can pass to the contemplation of God. By this contemplation the soul is set on fire for eternal things by the heavenly and divine good things it experiences, and views all the things of time from a distance and as if they were nothing. Hence when we approach God by the way of negation, we first deny Him everything that can be experienced by the body, the senses and the imagination, secondly even things experienceable by the intellect, and finally even being itself in so far as it is found in created things. This, so far as the nature of the way is concerned, is the best means of union with God, according to Dionysius. And this is the cloud in which God is said to dwell, which Moses entered, and through this came to the inaccessible light.'

St. Albert the Great

'Verily all the inhabitants of earth do die, young men and old, little children and adults, for no age or bodily stature is exempt from death. Why, then, is man tormented by this exceeding grief? Doubtless the very aspect of death begets sadness; for we behold in a dead man the face changed, the figure dead, the body shrunk up with emaciation, the mouth silent, the skin cold, the carcass prostrate on the ground, the eyes sunken, the limbs immoveable, the flesh wasted away, the veins congealed, the bones whitened, the joints dissolved, all parts of him reduced to dust, and the man no longer existing. What, then, is man? A flower, I say, that is but for a little time, which in his mothers' womb is not apparent, in youth flourishes, but which in old age withers and departs in death.'

St. Alexander of Alexandria

The whole plain resounded with their lamentations; one cried out: "Jesus, Mary!" another: "My God, mercy!" The martyrs did not cease silently to recommend themselves to God. The fire having consumed the cords that tied little James, he suddenly rushed through the flames and cinders into the arms of his mother, who said to him: "My son, look up to heaven and invoke Jesus and Mary." The innocent boy after having three times repeated the names of Jesus and Mary, fell dead at the feet of his mother, and she in her turn fell dead over him. Young Magdalen, the sister of James, still remained. Already burnt in every part of her body, she bent over, and seizing some burning cinders she placed them upon her head as if she wished to make of them a crown for herself. A little while after she gently sank down and gave up her soul to God. Oh, what a beautiful triumph of the faith did the Church see on that day!

When all the martyrs had breathed their last, the Christians passed over the palisade, gathered up the relics, and buried them in the church at Nagasaki.'

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

'Thus then, as we have said, the Creator fashioned the race of men, and thus meant it to remain. But men, making light of better things, and holding back from apprehending them, began to seek in preference things nearer to themselves.

2. But nearer to themselves were the body and its senses; so that while removing their mind from the things perceived by thought, they began to regard themselves; and so doing, and holding to the body and the other things of sense, and deceived as it were in their own surroundings, they fell into lust of themselves, preferring what was their own to the contemplation of what belonged to God. Having then made themselves at home in these things, and not being willing to leave what was so near to them, they entangled their soul with bodily pleasures, vexed and turbid with all kind of lusts, while they wholly forgot the power they originally had from God.

3. But the truth of this one may see from the man who was first made, according to what the holy Scriptures tell us of him. For he also, as long as he kept his mind to God, and the contemplation of God, turned away from the contemplation of the body. But when, by counsel of the serpent, he departed from the consideration of God, and began to regard himself, then they not only fell to bodily lust, but knew that they were naked, and knowing, were ashamed. But they knew that they were naked, not so much of clothing as that they were become stripped of the contemplation of divine things, and had transferred their understanding to the contraries. For having departed from the consideration of the one and the true, namely, God, and from desire of Him, they had thenceforward embarked in divers lusts and in those of the several bodily senses.

4. Next, as is apt to happen, having formed a desire for each and sundry, they began to be habituated to these desires, so that they were even afraid to leave them: whence the soul became subject to cowardice and alarms, and pleasures and thoughts of mortality. For not being willing to leave her lusts, she fears death and her separation from the body. But again, from lusting, and not meeting with gratification, she learned to commit murder and wrong. We are then led naturally to shew, as best we can, how she does this.'

St. Athanasius

'Continency is denial of the body, and confession to God. It withdraws from anything mortal, like a body which has the Spirit of God. It is without rivalry and envy, and causes us to be united to God. He who loves a body envies another. He who has not admitted the disease of corruption into his heart, is for the future strong enough to endure any labour, and though he have died in the body, he lives in incorruption. Verily, if I rightly apprehend the matter, God seems to me to be continency, because He desires nothing, but has all things in Himself. He reaches after nothing, nor has any sense in eyes or ears; wanting nothing, He is in all respects complete and full. Concupiscence is a disease of the soul; but continency is its health. And continency must not be regarded only in one species, as, for instance, in matters of sensual love. It must be regarded in everything which the soul lusts after in an evil manner, not being content with what is needful for it. Envy is caused for the sake of gold, and innumerable wrongs for the sake of other lusts. Not to be drunken is continency. Not to overeat one's self is continency. To subdue the body is continency, and to keep evil thoughts in subjection, whenever the soul is disturbed by any fancy false and bad, and the heart is distracted by vain cares. Continency makes men free, being at once a medicine and a power, for it does not teach temperance; it gives it. Continency is a grace of God.'

St. Basil the Great

'A little suffices for the support of the body; what is superfluous, will only serve to furnish the worms with a greater feast.'

St. Benedict Joseph Labre

'The soul will not desire to be separated from the body unless it becomes indifferent to the very air it breathes. All the bodily senses are opposed to faith, for they are concerned with the objects of this present world, while faith is concerned only with the blessings of the life to come. Thus one pursuing the spiritual way should never be too greatly preoccupied with beautifully branched or shady trees, pleasantly flowing springs, flowery meadows, fine houses or even visits to his family; neither should he recall any public honors that he happens to have been given. He should gratefully be content with bare necessities, regarding this present life as a road passing through an alien land, barren of all worldly attractions. For it is only by concentrating our mind in this way that we can keep to the road that leads back to eternity.'

St. Diadochos of Photiki

'The All-Knowing saw that we worshipped creatures. He put on a created body to catch us by our habit, to draw us by a created body toward the Creator. Blessed is He Who contrived to draw us to Him. The evil one knew how to harm us; with luminaries he blinded us. With possessions he maimed us, by gold he made us poor. With graven images he made us a heart of stone. Blessed is He who came to soften it.'

St. Ephrem of Syria

'We should all realize that no matter where or how a man dies, if he is in the state of mortal sin and does not repent, when he could have done so and did not, the Devil tears his soul from his body with such anguish and distress that only a person who has experienced it can appreciate it.'

St. Francis of Assisi

'There was at this time in the city of Nice a recluse Hospicius who was very abstemious. He wore iron chains next his body and over these a hair shirt and ate nothing but plain bread with a few dates. And during Lent he lived on the roots of Egyptian herbs such as the hermits use, which were brought to him by traders. First he would drink the soup in which they were cooked and eat the roots next day.'

St. Gregory of Tours

'Go to the cemetery and see what you love, when you love your body.'

St. Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney, the Cure of Ars

'Either we must speak as we dress, or dress as we speak. Why do we profess one thing and display another? The tongue talks of chastity, but the whole body reveals impurity.'

St. Jerome

'What is this mystery in me? What is the principle of this mixture of body and soul? How can I be my own friend and my own enemy? Speak to me! Speak to me, my yoke-fellow, my nature! I cannot ask anyone else about you. How can I remain uninjured by you? How can I escape the danger of my own nature? I have made a promise to Christ that I will fight you, yet how can I defeat your tyranny? But this I have resolved, namely, that I am going to master you.'

St. John Climacus

'And this is what the flesh might say in reply: "I will never tell you what you do not already know. I will speak the knowledge we both have. Within me is my begetter, the love of self. The fire that comes to me from outside is too much pampering and care. The fire within me is past ease and things long done. I conceived and give birth to sins, and they when born beget death by despair in their turn. And yet if you have learned the sure and rooted weakness within both you and me, you have manacled my hands. If you starve your longings, you have bound my feet, and they can travel no further. If you have taken up the yoke of obedience, you have cast my yoke aside. If you have taken possession of humility, you have cut off my head."'

St. John Climacus

'The intellect does many good and bad things without the body, whereas the body can do neither good nor evil without the intellect. This is because the law of freedom applies to what happens before we act.'

St. Mark the Ascetic

'I must disfigure the face which contrary to God's commandment I have painted with rouge, white lead, and antimony. I must mortify that body which has been given up to many pleasures. I must make up for my long laughter by constant weeping. I must exchange my soft linen and costly silks for rough goat's hair. I who have pleased my husband and the world in the past, desire now to please Christ.'

St. Paula

'For the deiform soul to abandon the Creator and worship the body is an act of depravity. You were commanded to keep the body as a servant, not to be unnaturally enslaved to its pleasures. Break the bonds of your friendship for the body and give it only what is absolutely necessary. Enclose your senses in the citadel of stillness so that they do not involve the intellect in their desires. The greatest weapons of someone striving to lead a life of inward stillness are self-control, love, prayer and spiritual reading. The intellect will go on looking for sensual pleasure until you subjugate the flesh and devote yourself to contemplation.'

St. Thalassios the Libyan

'As we take the bitterest medicine to recover or preserve the health of the body, we should cheerfully endure sufferings, however repugnant to nature, and consider them efficacious remedies which God employs to purify the soul and conduct it to the perfection to which He called it.'

St. Vincent de Paul

'Turn away the eyes of thy body and those of thy mind from seeing others, that thou mayest be able to contemplate thyself.'

St. Vincent Ferrer

'God is my Creator; my Saviour; my Sanctifier. I belong to God, therefore He is absolute master of my body, my soul, and my actions. He wants me to sacrifice my will to Him at every moment and in everything. In the hands of my superiors, I should be like a dead person, or more accurate like a staff. Never mind if they make mistakes. I know that I will never be wrong if I obey with a spirit of faith.

My crown in Heaven should shine with innocence and its flowers should be radiant as the sun. Sacrifices are the flowers Jesus and Mary chose.

I must be a victim; that is to say, I should live sacrificially every day as Jesus and Mary did.'

St. Bernadette Soubirous

'May the most holy Virgin who presents you with these flowers, find them still in your hands in your last agony as a pledge for entrance into the home to which only the pure lovers of Jesus Crucified are admitted.'

St. Gaspar del Bufalo

'All who have not believed that Jesus Christ was really the Son of God are doomed. Also all who see the Sacrament of the Body of Christ and do not believe it is really the most holy Body and Blood of the Lord . . . these also are doomed!'

St. Francis of Assisi

'Unite yourselves solely and most intimately with Him. Then you will be holy and blessed. Amen.'

St. Gaspar del Bufalo

'How is it you do not fear to touch the work of God; do you not fear the chastisement His justice prepares for you?'

St. Lydwine of Schiedam
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