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ABSTINENCE
ABSTINENCE
73

versy. At the same time it is well to bear in mind that in the beginning of the present era the Apostles were called upon to deal amicably with those who based their conservatism on the traditions of two thousand years of adhesion to the Mosaic legislation.

Daily experience testifies that the phenomena circumscribing the evolution of life in the material world are rooted in laws involving a process of transition from death unto life. "The struggle for existence and the survival of the fittest" is simply the dictum of science admitting the presence of this law in the animal kingdom. This law, so widespread in the material order. has been embodied in that economy wherein they who would imitate Christ must deny themselves, take up the cross, and follow Him. Hence, in moulding her penitential discipline, the Church is inspired by the maxims and example of her Divine Founder. As a consequence, she is not the author of arbitrary measures in this matter; she simply frames her laws of abstinence to meet the exigencies of fallen nature. Darkness in the understanding, weakness in the will, and turbulence in the passions must ever remain to reveal the ravages: of sin in fallen man. Though the passions are destined to satisfy the legitimate cravings of human nature, and enable man to develop his being according to the dictates of reason, still they give unquestionable evidence of a vicious propensity to invade the domain of reason and usurp her sovereignty. In order to check this lawless invasion of the passions, and to subordinate their movements to the empire of reason, man is obliged to labour unceasingly; else he is sure to become the slave of unbridled passion. This is what St. Paul means when he says: "The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh" etc. (Gal., v, 17). The substance of certain viands, especially meat, renders inestimable service to man in his efforts to gain and retain the desired supremacy. This is what St. Jerome means when, quoting Terence, he says: Sine Cerere et Baccho, friget Venus (Cont. Jov., II, 6), or, to use the words of St. Thomas (II-II, q. cxlvii, art. 1), "the ardor of lust is dampened by abstinence from food and drink." Besides, abstinence exercises a salutary influence in leading man to suprasensible pursuits. For, according to St. Augustine (De oratione et jejunio, sermo ccxxx, de temp.), abstinence purifies the soul, elevates the mind, subordinates the flesh to the spirit, begets a humble and contrite heart, scatters the clouds of concupiscence, extinguishes the fire of lust, and enkindles the true light of chastity. This is summarized in the official message of the Church found in the Mass-preface used during Lent: "Who by bodily fasting suppresses vice, ennobles the mind, grants virtue and rewards." It is no exaggeration, therefore, to maintain that Christians must find in abstinence an efficacious means to repair the losses of the spirit and augment its gains. Inspired by such motives, the Church wisely prohibits the use of flesh meat at duly appointed times. Seemingly harsh, the law of abstinence, in its last analysis, serves to promote bodily and spiritual well-being. The mechanism of the body stamps man as an omnivorous animal. Hence, all nations have adopted a mixed diet. Nay more, a priori and a posteriori reasons prove that the occasional interruption of meat diet conduces to bodily and spiritual health. In case of less rugged constitutions, the Church tempers the rigours of her legislation with the mildness of her dispensations. Finally, the experience of nineteen centuries proves that transgression of this law neither promotes health nor prolongs life. Hence, consummate wisdom and prudence, seeking to safeguard the welfare of soul and body, inspire the Church in her laws pertaining to abstinence. (See Advent; Lent.)

Tertullian, De Jejunio, P.L., II, St. Leo I, Sermones, P. L., LIV; Hermas Pastor, in Ante-Nicene Fathers (New York), II; Clement of Alexandria, ibid., II; Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, ibid., VII; Duchesne, Christian Worship: Its origin and evolution (tr. London, 1904); Pilgrimage of Etheria (Sylviæ), in Duchesne, op. cit., 547–577; Hefele, A History of the Councils of the Church (tr. Edinburgh, 1896), I, II, V; St. Thomas, Summa, II-II, QQ. cxivii, cxlvii; Thomassin, Traité des jeùnes d' l'Egise (Paris, 1680); Layman, Theologia Moralis (Padua, 1733); Sporer, Theologia Moralis super Decalogum (Venice, 1761), I; Vacant, Dict. de théol. cath (Paris, 1899), I, 262–277.

Abstinence, Physical Effects of.—The effects on the human system of abstinence from flesh meats divide themselves naturally and logically into two parts: (1) Effects due to total abstinence (in other words vegetarianism); (2) Effects due to partial or periodic abstinence, such as is enjoined by the Catholic Church. These abstinences comprise the fish observance of Fridays, the fasts before feasts, the forty days of Lent, and the ember days. It is the partial, or Catholic, phase of the subject with which we have to deal.

Physiologically, man is an omnivorous animal, as evidenced by the structure and consequent nomenclature of the teeth; and a mixed diet into which meat or flesh food largely enters, would seem to be the natural requirement for such a complex physio-anatomical entity. Additional corroboration of this view is afforded by researches of physiological chemistry, and the discovery of elements produced at various points along the digestive tract, whose function it is to peptonize milk foods, emulsify fats and oils, destroy the insulation of muscular fiber, and prepare the nucleines for absorption and nutrition. Granting, therefore, that flesh food in some form is necessary for the human race as a whole, what are the physical effects of partial Abstinence therefrom? These effects are as numerous and divergent as the causes. We have first, the family history of the individual (diseases or tendencies inherited or acquired); second, age; third, personal history of the individual (diseases or tendencies inherited or acquired), natural or artificial infantile feeding; fourth, education and environment; fifth, climatic conditions, sixth, occupation and its effects on the physical and mental state of the individual, seventh, status præsens, and last—but really the most important of all—that indefinable but very tangible element which we may call the personal equation in each individual, the observer as well as the observed. Additional facts to be remembered are: (a) That women bear Abstinence better than men, because as a rule the former have greater development of fatty and less development of muscular tissue; (b) that mature age bears deprivation of customary food better than youth or old age; (c) that a very damp atmosphere, extremes of heat and gold, un-hygienic surroundings (tenements, prisons, workhouses, etc.), insufficient, improper, and unwholesome food, the state of pregnancy, alcoholism, and the premature physical and mental decadence, due to the stress and strain in the modern battle of life, are all to be considered as important matters for investigation in any case that has to do with the question of Abstinence.

The Church has so wisely, and with a foreknowledge of scientific investigation and present proof so accurate as to be almost supernatural, taken all the above mentioned conditions into consideration, in framing her laws regarding. Abstinence, that there is not the slightest danger of any physical ills accruing to those to whom these laws apply. On the contrary, it is abundantly demonstrated by the highest scientific authority that temporary Abstinence from solid food—particularly flesh food, in which there is a great proportion of waste material, and consequently, increased wear and tear on the organs of excretion,