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Question: Which are the most dangerous foods, substances or drinks that inflames lust that one should abstain from if one wants to quench sexual temptations or desire?

Answer: Along with the world’s change in the last couple of hundred years, the foods and substances that men partake of has also changed drastically. However, there are some specific substances that have been proven to increase lust or sexual desire, and that are therefore more important to abstain from than other things. These substances obviously doesn’t work on all people in the same way, but as a general rule, scientific studies have verified that some substances are indeed more powerful to increase lust or sexual desire than others. Consequently, people who are having a hard time controlling their sexual lusts should try to study about those foods and substances that they partake of, so that they may be able to exclude those foods that may be the cause of their temptations or sexual sins.

1) Caffeine is a commonplace stimulant drug, occurring both in nature as part of the coffee, tea, cacao and yerba mate plants, and as an additive in many consumer products, most notably beverages advertised as energy drinks (such as Red Bull). However, caffeine is also added to many sodas such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi; on the ingredients listing, it is designated as a flavoring agent.

Researchers say that caffeine is both addictive as well as that it enhances sexual arousal. Scientific studies have concluded that caffeine works by stimulating a person’s nerve endings, increasing blood flow, and thus as a result of this, increasing concupiscence and sexual desire. Sexual erection and blood flow is actually the same thing, and thus, it is common that a person who consumes caffeine feels more sexually tempted. A recent study found that female rats that got a shot of caffeine were more motivated to seek out sex than uncaffeinated animals. The researchers concluded caffeine enhances sexual arousal.

As if this was not enough, physical and psychological addiction can also result from caffeine intake. In an interview, Roland Griffiths, a professor in the departments of psychiatry and neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said that the studies had demonstrated that people who take in a minimum of one hundred milligrams of caffeine per day (about the amount in half a cup of coffee) can acquire a physical dependence that would trigger withdrawal symptoms that include headaches, muscle pain and stiffness, lethargy, nausea, vomiting, depressed mood, and marked irritability. Through his research, withdrawals occurred within 12 to 24 hours after stopping caffeine intake, but could last as long as nine days and caffeine consumers are more apt to consume to waive off the withdrawal symptoms instead of to enjoy the product. Although its mechanism of action is somewhat different to that of cocaine or the amphetamines, for example, it nonetheless creates a similar pattern of dependence. When the drug wears off, the brain will release less than the usual level of neurotransmitters, in order to compensate for depletion. Due to this effect, users of caffeine will often be tempted to re-dose in order to avoid the “crash”.

With repetitive use, physical dependence or addiction are likely to occur. Also, the stimulatory effects of caffeine are substantially reduced over time, a phenomenon known as a tolerance. Tolerance develops quickly to some (but not all) effects of caffeine, especially among heavy coffee and energy drink consumers. Some coffee drinkers develop tolerance to its sleep-disrupting effects, but others apparently do not.

Withdrawal symptoms – including headache, irritability, inability to concentrate, drowsiness, insomnia, and pain in the stomach, upper body, and joints – may appear within 12 to 24 hours after discontinuation of caffeine intake, peak at roughly 48 hours, and usually last from 2 to 9 days. In prolonged caffeine drinkers, symptoms such as increased depression and anxiety, nausea, vomiting, physical pains and intense desire for caffeine containing beverages are also reported. Peer knowledge, support and interaction may aid withdrawal; prayer, and especially the Rosary, definitely aid against withdrawal symptoms.

The most common foods or substances that people use to consume caffeine are: coffee, tea, carbonated beverages like Coca-Cola and Power Drinks etc., and chocolate or cacao.

2) Chocolate or Cacao also contains caffeine as an active substance, as well as many other substances that increase sexual arousal. While Cacao contains less caffeine than coffee or tea, the caffeine consumed can still many times be greater than in coffee or tea since the amount that people normally use of cacao is greater. Italian scientists found that women who had a daily chocolate treat reported higher sexual desire than those who did without. Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), which triggers the release of feel-good dopamine in the brain and is released naturally during sex. Chocolate or Cacao also contains the stimulant called Theobromine. Theobromine poisoning may result from the chronic or acute consumption of large quantities, especially in the elderly.

While theobromine and caffeine are similar in that they are related alkaloids, theobromine has a lesser impact on the human central nervous system than caffeine. However, theobromine stimulates the heart to a greater degree. While theobromine is not as addictive as caffeine, it has been cited as possibly causing addiction to chocolate. Theobromine has also been identified as one of the compounds contributing to chocolate’s reputed role as an aphrodisiac. As with caffeine, theobromine can cause sleeplessness, tremors, restlessness, anxiety, as well as contribute to increased production of urine, causing dehydration. Additional side effects include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and even problems during pregnancy.

3) Alcohol or Wine: A recent study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that women who drank 1 to 2 glasses of red wine had increased sexual desire and functioning than people who do not drink at all. There was no additional benefit to drinking more than two glasses. Compounds in red wine like flavonoids may improve sexual functioning by increasing blood flow to key areas of the body.

Speaking on the inherent dangers of a “body heated with drink”, St. Jerome writes: “When the body is heated with drink it soon boils over with lust. Wine drinking means self-indulgence, self-indulgence means sensual gratification, sensual gratification means a breach of chastity. He that lives in pleasure is dead while he lives, [1 Tim. 5:6] and he that drinks himself drunk is not only dead but buried. One hour’s debauch makes Noah uncover his nakedness which through sixty years of sobriety he had kept covered. [Gen. 9:20-21] Lot in a fit of intoxication unwittingly adds incest to incontinence, and wine overcomes the man whom Sodom failed to conquer [Gen. 19:30-38].” (Letters of St. Jerome, Letter LXIX, To Oceanus, A.D. 397)

4) Tobacco or Nicotine: While tobacco does not directly increase sexual desire, dependence on or addiction to this drug creates a pleasure seeking mindset in an individual, and this mindset of always seeking after pleasures is the exact cause of why so many people commits sexual sins of various sorts. Smoking in very small amounts once in a while is probably not a sin, but smoking habitually or regularly in such a way that one gets addicted to cigarettes is a sin, and it definitely cuts out graces from people’s lives. We don’t see how those who smoke habitually, for example throughout the day, would be any different from people who eat candy all day and thus try to constantly gratify themselves in that way. The only thing different with smoking compared to candy is that the effect and addictive properties of the cigarette is much stronger than candy, thus making it a very strong drug in comparison to candy. This is not even to get into the issue that we now know it’s horrible for health and leads to death. People who are smokers are giving a horrible example to other people, tempting them to start smoking cigarettes which is highly addictive and lethal. Smoking is so addictive that medical scientists have compared the addiction to heroin addiction. Most people who get addicted to cigarettes will never be able to stop and will be life long slaves under a most filthy, evil and grace diminishing habit.

St. Francis of Assisi was well aware of the truth that seeking pleasure corrupts the soul. St. Francis used to put ashes in his food in order to make it taste bad, since he understood that the five senses and the search to gratify them made the soul weaker. Someone might ask: “Does that mean that eating good things is a sin?” The answer is of course that eating good things in itself is no sin. However, one should definitely try to avoid all things that are tasty and addictive, such as superfluous and tasty foods, meats, beverages, cigarettes, candy, chips, cakes, spices, sauces, dressings, etc. The reason why man should do his utmost to avoid pleasurable things is because the five senses of man, after the fall, was corrupted by self-love and self-gratification. That’s precisely why countless of saints have refused to eat foods that are superfluous or that tastes good. However, no one should get the idea that it’s sinful to eat good foods, but understand that people who always want to eat these foods will fall into sin, for gluttony and lack of moderation is certainly sinful.

Hell is too long and life is too short to pander to your five senses, that’s for sure! The fight or battle we humans have to endure in this life is this: either we choose to gratify our senses in this life, and endure an eternal torment in Hell, or we chose to wait in patience for the brief second of this earthly life to end, and then enter into an eternal bliss and joy in Heaven.

In conclusion, there are probably countless kinds of foods, drinks or substances that increases lust and sexual desire that have not been mentioned here. Eating too much food and spicy and fatty food will also many times lead to sexual temptations. So it is imperative to always be thoughtful when eating and resist the inclination to overeat. Thus, if a person suffers from temptations or have fallen into sexual sins and they realize that their lust is increased by consumption of certain foods or drinks, they should then abstain from them. They should also study and research the foods they eat if they suspect that what they eat are contributing to their falls or temptations. This could either be done through trying to abstain from some of the suspected substances, or through reading articles and books about the foods one eat.

As a general rule, abstinence from foods that are not necessary for our survival or fasting by eating simple food like bread, rice or vegetables two times a day along with praying the Rosary and reading spiritual books will many times help to alleviate the temptations of a person.

The practice of fasting is essential to learn to conquer the sin of gluttony as well as other sins, principally the sin of lust. St. Jerome taught that fasting is a tool for preventing the commission of sexual sins:

“When Elijah, in his flight from Jezebel, lay weary and desolate beneath the oak, there came an angel who raised him up and said, "Arise and eat." And he looked, and behold there was a cake and a cruse of water at his head. [1 Kings xix. 4-6] Had God willed it, might He not have sent His prophet spiced wines and dainty dishes and flesh basted into tenderness? When Elisha invited the sons of the prophets to dinner, he only gave them field-herbs to eat; and when all cried out with one voice: "There is death in the pot," the man of God did not storm at the cooks (for he was not used to very sumptuous fare), but caused meal to be brought, and casting it in, sweetened the bitter mess [2 Kings iv. 38-41] with spiritual strength as Moses had once sweetened the waters of Mara. [Exod. xv. 23-25] Again, when men were sent to arrest the prophet, and were smitten with physical and mental blindness, that he might bring them without their own knowledge to Samaria, notice the food with which Elisha ordered them to be refreshed. "Set bread and water," he said, "before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master." [2 Kings vi. 18-23] And Daniel, who might have had rich food from the king’s table, [Dan. i. 8] preferred the mower’s breakfast, brought to him by Habakkuk, [Bel. 33-39] which must have been but country fare. He was called "a man of desires," [Dan. ix. 23] because he would not eat the bread of desire or drink the wine of concupiscence.

“There are, in the Scriptures, countless divine answers condemning gluttony and approving simple food. But as fasting is not my present theme and an adequate discussion of it would require a treatise to itself, these few observations must suffice of the many which the subject suggests. By them you will understand why the first man, obeying his belly and not God, was cast down from paradise into this vale of tears; [Ps. lxxxiv. 6] and why Satan used hunger to tempt the Lord Himself in the wilderness; [Matt. iv. 2, 3] and why the apostle cries: "Meats for the belly and the belly for meats, but God shall destroy both it and them;" [1 Cor. vi. 13] and why he speaks of the self-indulgent as men "whose God is their belly." [Phil. iii. 19] For men invariably worship what they like best. Care must be taken, therefore, that abstinence may bring back to Paradise those whom satiety once drove out.

“You will tell me, perhaps, that, high-born as you are, reared in luxury and used to lie softly, you cannot do without wine and dainties, and would find a stricter rule of life unendurable. If so, I can only say: "Live, then, by your own rule, since God’s rule is too hard for you." Not that the Creator and Lord of all takes pleasure in a rumbling and empty stomach, or in fevered lungs; but that these are indispensable as means to the preservation of chastity. Job was dear to God, perfect and upright before Him; [Job ii. 3] yet hear what he says of the devil: "His strength is in the loins [sexual desire], and his force is in the navel [desire for food]" [Job xl. 16].” (St. Jerome, Letter XXII, To Eustochium, Section 9-11, A.D. 384)

St. Jerome further adds: “And yet after the Saviour had fasted forty days, it was through food that the old enemy laid a snare for Him, saying, “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” (St. Matt. 4:3) Under the Law, in the seventh month after the blowing of trumpets and on the tenth day of the month, a fast was proclaimed for the whole Jewish people, and that soul was cut off from among his people which on that day preferred self-indulgence to self-denial. (Lev. 23:27-29) In Job it is written of behemoth that “his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly.” (Job 40:16) Our foe uses the heat of youthful passion to tempt young men and maidens and “sets on fire the wheel of our birth.” (James 3:6) He thus fulfills the words of Hosea, “they are all adulterers, their heart is like an oven” (Hosea 7:4); an oven which only God’s mercy and severe fasting can extinguish.” (The Letters of St. Jerome, Letter CXXX, Section 10, vol. 6, pp. 266-267, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series)

St. John Climacus calls gluttony “the prince of the passions.” He said that when one sits down to eat, one should think about death and the last judgment: “The fallen Lucifer is the prince of demons, and gluttony is the prince of the passions. So when you sit at a well-laden table, remember death and remember judgment, and even then you will manage to restrain yourself a little.” Like St. Jerome, St. John Climacus encouraged the use of fasting as a tool for overcoming lust: “To fast is to do violence to nature. It is to do away what whatever pleases the palate. Fasting ends lust, roots out bad thoughts, frees one from evil dreams.” (The Ladder of Divine Ascent, "Step 14: On Gluttony," by St. John Climacus, p. 169)

Overeating leads to lust which, in turn, leads to other sexual sins, such as fornication and adultery. St. Maximos the Confessor called gluttony “greed. . . because this is the mother and nurse of unchastity.” (First Century on Love, Section 84, by St. Maximos the Confessor, The Philokalia, vol. 2, p. 63)

St. Augustine also knew very well how food could effect our sensuality, which is why he taught that one should be very careful what or in what measure one eat. “You have taught me to approach the consumption of food as I would medicine.” (St. Augustine, 354-430 A.D., Quoted in De Malo by St. Thomas Aquinas) Why should one eat food as though it is medicine? There are two main reasons for this. The first is that one takes the medicine in very well measured portions, thus always being sure that there is not too little or too much of medicine to injure the body. In the same way, we should also carefully measure our portions of food in order to never eat more than what is necessary for our life and well being. Following this first advice is crucial in the war against the devil, for the devil fears resolute souls who adopt rules to chasten their flesh, and he knows that such a person, if he perseveres to the end, will be able to bring many other souls with him to heaven. That is why the devil in a special way wars against beginners in the spiritual life who have chosen to take up the fight against him through self-restraint, penances and mortifications. Since most spiritual practices are harder to perform in the beginning (since one is unaccustomed to performing them and untaught in the way on how to deal with them), the devil also uses this opportunity to try to persuade and talk the soul out of doing this or that penance or mortification, whispering in his or her ear that it is all in vain, that we have no strength to carry it out, and that no amount of penance or mortification will effect our spiritual welfare in the end. But if we wish to be perfect, we must realize that: “Temperance requires that people should only eat at regular hours, if it be at all possible.” (Blessed Peter Julian Eymard, 1811-1868 A.D.)

The second reason why we should always eat food as though it is medicine, is because one does not eat medicine because of its taste, but only because of its effects in sustaining the health of the body. In the same way, we should never eat food for the purpose of satisfying our palate, but should view every portion of food we partake of as medicine, while ignoring the promptings of the flesh and of the devil who tempts us to indulge ourselves, sharply rebuking our flesh when it tries to allure and tempt us with all the different delicacies that one has now left behind for the perfect and pure love of God.

St. Jean-Baptiste de La Salle (1651-1719): “If it be the duty of a Christian to pray to God before meals, he is not less bound to thank him after having made use of the gifts which came from his bountiful hand. It is, therefore, necessary to make, after every meal, a short but fervent act of thanksgiving.” (Duty of a Christian towards God, Chapter 7)

Question: Are vanity and sexual desire connected to each other in any way?

Answer: Yes, vanity and sexual desire are two disorders that are directly and heavily connected to one another. This is because vain practices such as the use of makeup and immodest clothing inflame the flesh to sexual desire. Not only the user will be inflamed to sensuality by these vain practices, but also those people who observe them, will be inflamed to sensuality through their immoral and disgusting behavior.

Our Lady of Fatima: “The sins of the world are too great! The sins which lead most souls to hell are sins of the flesh! Certain fashions are going to be introduced which will offend Our Lord very much. Those who serve God should not follow these fashions. The Church has no fashions; Our Lord is always the same. Many marriages are not good; they do not please Our Lord and are not of God.”

According to modern-day “Catholics” who know nothing about the Catholic faith and the teachings of the saints, current modern-day fashion in which women dress like men or with revealing and tight clothing showing off their womanly form (even if modestly) is not offensive to God. Well, they are completely wrong.

St. Clement of Alexandria, Father of the Church, On Clothes (c. 198 A.D.): “Luxurious clothing that cannot conceal the shape of the body is no more a covering. For such clothing, falling close to the body, takes its form more easily, and adhering as it were to the flesh, receives its shape, and marks out the woman’s figure. As a result, the whole make of the body is visible to spectators, although they cannot see the body itself.” (The Instructor or The Paedagogus, Book II, Chapter XI)

How did most Catholic women, and even pagans and infidels, dress before our time? The answer is that they all dressed more like how nuns are dressed, that is, they were using a long dress totally covering their behind, front and legs down to the ankle and up to the waist with no tight fitting, visible parts shown whatsoever below the waist. And above the waist were usually worn – not some insignificant, small, thin shirt or “covering” as most women use today, showing of their whole womanly form, even if not revealing any flesh – but rather a significant, thick, long shirt that covers the womanly figure, the arms down to the wrist, shoulders and neck. Neither did these dresses or shirts end visibly at the waist, thus inviting curious, immodest thoughts or revealing any flesh or worse as modern day shirts, dresses, skirts and pants do, but these skirts or dresses were usually one part of the whole dress, or worn in such a way as to invite no thoughts. Such dresses are totally without guilt. Everything else will at least have some fault. In general, the more the clothing reveals flesh and the bodily form, the more sinful it becomes. Not only did most women dress in such a good way before our modern time, but all women also wore a head covering in the Church, and a large portion of the women also wore it in everyday occasions.

Considering how most western woman dress today, it’s safe to say that many of them in fact dress in a mortally sinful fashion. A woman that does not desire to be lusted after by others and who do not want to give others an occasion of falling into sin, will of course never dress in a sensual or immodest way. Indeed, very few people today dress without any guilt at all. But amongst the few who do, most of them are definitely found amongst the pagans, infidels and idolaters, and especially in the poorer countries.

In St. Bridget’s Revelations, Jesus Christ gives us a perfect description of how sensual and vain people are handed over to the devil for their sins. The following revelation is very revealing. In it one will see Jesus complaining about the bad will and sinful lifestyle of obstinate, evil sinners that are lustful and vain; and how He threatens them with eternal punishments; and how he lovingly encourages them to repentance. One will notice from the introduction of this Revelation that these things mentioned by Jesus Christ are serious matters and not just some trifling scruples as most peopled indeed look upon these sins today. That is also why Our Lord appears in the revelation as if revealing a “hidden” truth lost to mankind—a truth that was fervently prayed for by God’s servants to be shown to the sinful people for their amendment.

To a person who was wide awake at prayer and absorbed in contemplation – and while she was in a rapture of mental elevation – Jesus Christ appeared; and He said to her this: “Hear, O you to whom it has been given to hear and see spiritual things; and be diligently attentive; and in your mind beware in regard to those things that you now will hear and that in my behalf you will announce to the nations… for these things that you are now going to hear are being shown to you not only for your own sake, but also because of the prayers of my friends.

“For some of my chosen friends in the Neapolitan citizenry have for many years asked me with their whole heart – in their prayers and in their labors on behalf of my enemies living in the same city – to show them some grace through which they could be withdrawn and savingly recalled from their sins and abuses. Swayed by their prayers, I give to you now these words of mine; and therefore diligently hear the things that I speak.

“I am the Creator of all and Lord over the devils as well as over the angels, and no one will escape my judgment. … But what are those human beings who are my enemies doing to me now? In truth, they have contempt for my precepts; they cast me out of their hearts like a loathsome poison; indeed, they spit me out of their mouths like something rotten; and they abhor the sight of me as if I were a leper with the worst of stenches. But the devil and his works they embrace in their every affection and deed. For they bring him into their hearts, doing his will with delight and gladness and following his evil suggestions. Therefore, by my just judgment they shall have their reward in hell with the devil eternally without end. And for the lust with which they burn like senseless animals, they will never be admitted to the sight of my face but will be separated from me and deprived of their inordinate will.

Moreover, know that just as all mortal sins are very serious, so too a venial sin is made mortal if a human being delights in it with the intention of persevering. Wherefore, know that two sins, which I now name to you, are being practiced and that they draw after them other sins that all seem as if venial.

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