Self-love is the mother of passions, since all the passions – those of the body, such as gluttony (excess in eating or drinking) and fondness for sensual pleasure, as well as those of the soul, such as pride and envy originate from self-love.
Self-love is to do the will of the ‘old man’ within you, that is, to love that old man within (to love yourself). Gluttony (excess in eating or drinking), egoism, obstinacy and envy all have self-love as their source. A person with self-love tries to accommodate only himself without regard for others.
Self-love is also the desire to eat or to rest more than necessary. Normally we should give our body only what it needs. Desire is one thing and need is quite another. Suppose I have before me two types of food that are equally nutritious, but one of them is tastier than the other. If I choose the tastier one, then my action is one of self-love. If I choose the tastier one because I’m ill then my action is one of discernment (good judgment).
If a person limits his intake, then he can easily practice self-control, otherwise he will become a slave to his stomach; an overweight person has such a large capacity for food, he’ll have to eat half a calf in order to feel full and then drink two gallons of water, as well.
When one gladly resists eating out of love for Christ, then he is indeed well-nourished. If he prefers insipid (tasteless) food over delicious food out of love for Christ, then Christ will be tasted in the insipid food.
EXAMPLES OF SELF LOVE
Person making meticulous arrangements for his food and his sleep, so that nothing disturbs his well-being.
If one does not get his way, he reacts badly.
We should not worship comfort. The more one sits, the more slack he is; the more one works, the more strengthened he is. Work not only gets rid of the moldiness, it also helps one spiritually.
The goal is for one to reach the point of rejoicing more for a life of hardships, than for a life of ease. Enduring hardships in our life for the love of Christ allows for His tenderness to come to our heart. Divine pleasures are borne out of bodily pain. The Fathers gave blood and received Spirit. With effort and sweat, they received Grace.