Sermon by St. Gregory the Pope
Dearly beloved brethren, between the dainties of the body and the dainties of the mind there is this difference, that the dainties of the body, when we lack them, raise up a great hunger after them, and when we devour them, straightway our fulness worketh in us niceness. But about the dainties of the mind we are nice while as yet we lack them, and when we fill ourselves with them, then are we an-hungered after them, and the more, being an-hungered, we feed thereon, the more are we an-hungered thereafter. In the bodily dainties, the hunger is keener than the fulness, but in the spiritual the fulness is keener than the hunger. In the bodily, hunger gendereth fulness, and fulness niceness; in the spiritual, hunger indeed gendereth fulness, but fulness gendereth hunger.
Spiritual dainties, in the very eating, do stir up the keenness of hunger in the mind which they fill, for, the more we taste their sweetness, the better we know how well they deserve to be loved; and, if we taste them not, we cannot love them, for we know not how sweet they be. And who can love that whereof he knoweth nothing? Hence saith the Psalmist: O taste and see that the Lord is good; that is, as it were, If ye taste not, ye shall not see his goodness: but let your heart once taste the bread of life, and then indeed, having tasted and proved his sweetness, ye shall be able to love him. But these were the dainties which man lost when he sinned in Eden, and when he had shut his own mouth against the sweet bread whereof if any man eat he shall live for ever, he forsook paradise.
And we that, from the first man, are born under the afflictions of this pilgrimage, are come into the world smitten with niceness; we know not what we ought to want, and the disease of our niceness groweth the worse, as our soul draweth itself the more away from that bread of sweetness. We are no longer an-hungered after inward dainties, since we have lost the use of feeding on them. And so in our niceness we starve, and the sickness of long famishing maketh prey of our health. We will not eat of that inward sweetness which is made ready for us, and being enamoured only of things outward we sink into the wretchedness of loving starvation.