Do you want to get better at controlling lustful thoughts?
Is lust a vice (or bad habit) you have difficulty curtailing?
Want to know anything that might help you to remain pure?
Try this simple dietary practice, recommended by St. Thomas Aquinas, no less. He is called the Universal Doctor of the Catholic Church, and has written extensive and wonderful tomes of philosophical and theological brilliance.
FROM THE SUMMA
In his most-popular work, the Summa Theologica, he takes up the practice of fasting Catholics observe. Of all things, this holy man recommends fasting from eating meat as a means to controlling lustful thoughts.
Specifically, he writes the following:
“…fasting was instituted by the Church in order to bridle the concupiscences of the flesh, which regard pleasures of touch in connection with food and sex. Wherefore the Church forbade those who fast to partake of those foods which both afford most pleasure to the palate, and besides are a very great incentive to lust.
“Such are the flesh of animals that take their rest on the earth, and of those that breathe the air and their products, such as milk from those that walk on the earth, and eggs from birds. For, since such like animals are more like man in body, they afford greater pleasure as food, and greater nourishment to the human body, so that from their consumption there results a greater surplus available for seminal matter, which when abundant becomes a great incentive to lust. Hence the Church has bidden those who fast to abstain especially from these foods” (II-II, q. 147, A. 8, co., emphasis added).
What is he saying?
St. Thomas Aquinas is drawing a comparison between the pleasure we enjoy from eating food to the pleasure we relish from having sex.
As well, he is tapping into a scientific fact that greater testosterone levels bring higher libido levels. (Hat tip to my friend, Dr. Taylor Marshall on explaining all this from the Summa.)
If you have a low sex drive, whether you are male or female, you can eat red meat and fatty meat to increase your testosterone levels. This, in turn, will boost your sex drive.
The converse is true for those looking to lower their sex drive, such as those working to be better at controlling lustful thoughts!
As Dr. Marshall points out, St. Thomas Aquinas likely learned this from his mentor, St. Albert the Great, a renowned biologist.
So, what would this look like?
Well, we are in the middle of Lent now. Try giving up meat from now until Easter. See if that doesn’t help you in controlling lustful thoughts.
Short of that, make a resolution to abstain from eating meat every Friday. This is a common practice for Catholics and is something you can take up easily.
When you are wanting to bite into a juicy cheeseburger on a day of fasting, offer that desire to the Lord. Ask Him to accept your small sacrifice of foregoing that burger. Ask Him if its place you could grow in the virtue (or healthy habit) of temperance (or moderation or self-control).
Choke down a salad or a tuna sandwich instead. Sure, it won’t taste as good, but that’s the point. The point in doing this is to deny your appetites their ends, so they don’t control you.
Give it a try. What have you to lose? A vice?
What do you think of St. Thomas Aquinas’ advice in controlling lustful thoughts?
Think this practical advice could prove very helpful?
Please leave a comment below!