How to Deal with Pleasure

I really do value all of your opinions,
just saying.

So as the Great Lent is approaching, I’ve
been thinking a lot about why there is even a fast. Shouldn’t our behavior in
the Great Lent be our everyday norms?


In the Great lent, we abstain from
meats/dairy. Not because they’re unclean, but because they give us pleasure.

Couples abstain from sex. Not because
sex is impure, but because it’s pleasurable.

If you have habits of internet
addiction or tv binge, you should abstain. Not because these things are bad in
and of themselves, but because they’re pleasurable and this time would be
better spent with God.

So you get the point…

But then the fast ends and we go back
to all of those things. We eat the meats and dairy and go back to the internet
and tv, perhaps with less force, as maybe the fast has taught us moderation.

But I’m wondering…why? 

I like to read literature from the
desert fathers. And their lives make so much sense. They had ascetic disciplines
that they followed at all times. And most of all, they never took part in
pleasurable things.

This question has popped into my mind
recently because a lot of times I go out with my friends, say to go out to eat,
and I wonder..should I have stayed at home and spent my time with God instead? Similarly,
my church is the type to host a lot of fun activities in the name of fellowship.
And while I usually never think twice before going, sometimes I wonder if this
is conducive to my spiritual life.  I guess
I find that especially in social hangouts, I “exit out of myself”, persay. And so
it’s hard to keep that interior closeness  with God when you have to laugh, joke and talk
endlessly for 3, 4 hours.  Because a lot
of times, I lose myself in all this whether it’s through what I think
or do or say in those times, esp with the opposite sex.

But at the end of the day, these are
pleasurable things that I like to do. and without them, i might as well go become a monastic. but were not all called for that, right? And I’m not sure if I should cut these things off,
or just work more and more at making my interactions godly. 

i hope this all makes sense... it did in my head lol


  • very good questions.
    i have only a simple understanding, but basically, we live in the world in order to bring to those around us 
    the peace and grace we receive when we are spending time out of the world.

    so if you are out eating meat with friends during a non fasting day, this is fine.
    once you can stay close to God while doing this, then you have learned with saint paul to be happy with plenty and also with little.
    if your inner peace is not connected to food or other pleasure, then you can remain peaceful while eating meat and also while fasting.
    as the fasting is the TOOL to help us keep control of our desires, not an aim in itself.

    but if you are with friends who are Christian and you have lots of time available to spend eating and chatting, then certainly you could suggest an idea to also do things together that help your spiritual life, such as praying from the agpeya or watching a saint movie or discussing today's gospel reading.

    oh, and the other thing about fasting is that it is easy to get proud that you have fasted or prayed for an hour etc. and then you have to repent and go back to fasting and praying!
    (maybe not you, personally but others. not me. i get proud after praying for 10 minutes...)
  • This is a very interesting topic and I hope to hear some insight from the fathers as well! My guess is that, for some reason, we tend to stop all the spiritual activities we carried on during these holy times of fasting. For some reason, whenever we find meat or dairy around us, we forget about prayer and lose all inhibitions by turning ourselves into gluttons of food and pleasure. I believe that, even in times of non-fasting, we should still keep an element of fasting in us. Just because we can eat meat does not mean we have to indulge in all our desires...

    Regarding friends-- I think it depends on the kinds of friends. You have to have some people you can talk to about spiritual/holy matters. This can keep your encounters more meaningful. At the same time, it can't always be spiritual...

    Does anyone have anything from the fathers that could benefit us?

  • St. John Chrysostomos tells us that as Christ grants us His grace, and a relationship with Him, we must go and serve on the altar of the world. Even the monks get together for communal meals where they may eat meat or other non-fasting foods. Not because of their raging desire for that food, but simply because it is food and can nourish the body. In other words, they don't care, for the monastics, food is only a means of nourishing the body. In Bishop Macarius' book about Abouna AbdelMessih El-Habashy, he says that the monks often eat very unappealing foods simply because their only pleasure is in Christ, therefore they no longer even differentiate between foods. Overall, what is wrong is not the gatherings, but our desire going into the gatherings. Believe me brother, I know exactly what you speak of. But may God grant us a pure heart and strength to fight all temptations, that we may be confirmed in Him to the end.

    Pray for me, and may God grant you peace according to your hearts desire.
  • Such wonderful and edifying responses! Thank you all :-)
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