Self-Control to Overcome our Passions

Fasting deals specifically with the passion of gluttony. We must however deal with all our passions and overcome them one by one. Fasting is the starting point to controlling the others. It is a fight that we must steadily engage in, by doing so we will gradually reduce them.

Saint Maximus outlines four steps for this progress:

  1. The stopping of their appearance in sinful deeds––the obtaining of sinless in deed is the first dispassion

  2. Freedom from passionate thoughts caused by appetites in our consciousness; victory over them bring us to a second dispassion, without such thoughts they can't become deeds.

  3. The control over our natural appetite so that it doesn't move toward the passions––this is the third dispassion

  4. The complete removal from the mind of perceptible images––this leads to a fourth dispassion. No longer having them in the mind, they can no longer enter the sub consciousness to move an appetite to a passion.

He goes on to advise us that there is one further step.

We must reach a state where we can receive images of things without creating any passion within us. This happens when through them their divine logoi become transparent. Only after this does the mind unite with God in a state higher than prayer.

Source: Orthodox Spirituality, p. 153