asceticism

The Path

Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future. – Oscar Wilde

One Faith

“There are three things I cannot take in: nondogmatic faith, nonecclesiological Christianity and nonascetic Christianity. These three – the church, dogma, and asceticism – constitute one single life for me.” — Elder Sophrony

The Intellect is not self-contained

It is my opinion that our intellect does not have a natural power to be
moved to the divine vision of Divinity. And in this one deficiency we
are the peers of all the celestial natures, for both in us and in them
grace moves that which is alien by nature both to the human intellect
and to the angelic. For divine vision concerning the Godhead is not to
be numbered among the other kinds of divine vision. For we possess
divine vision of the natures of things through participation in their
twofold nature, because there is a portion of all things in us. But we
do not have a portion of the nature of the Divine Essence, and so
neither do we have by nature divine vision of it.

The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian.

Happiness

“The doctrine of beatific vision, borrowed by St. Augustine from the Neo–Platonists, whereby man’s destiny is to become completely happy in the possession of the vision of the divine essence, is unknown to the Greek patristic Tradition. Man’s desire is rather the transformation of the desire for happiness into a non–utilitarian love which does not seek its own.” – Fr. John Romanides

Just a bit farther

“Only struggle a little bit more. Carry your crosses without complaining; Don’t think you’re anything special, don’t justify your sins and weaknesses, but see yourself as you really are; and, especially, love one another.” – St. Macarius the Great

Living Sermons on the Mount

“The most interesting thing about Christianity is the ascetics, because they make all of Christ’s talk about the Kingdom of God make sense.” (From Not of This World, St. Herman Press)

Patristics is Asceticism

“The patrisitic tradition is neither a social philosphy nor an ethical system, nor is it religious dogmatism: it is a therapeutic treatment… The spiritual energy of the soul that prays unceasingly in the heart is a physiological instrument which everyone has and which requires healing. Neither philosophy nor any of the known positive or social sciences is capable of healing this instrument. That can only be done through the Fathers’ neptic and ascetic teaching. Therefore those who are not healed usually do not even know of the existence of this instrument.” – Fr. John Romanides

Runway Lights in the Desert

“Angels are the light of monks, and monks are the light of men.”

Comment: Orthodoxy is not actually a belief system; it’s more closely understood as an asceticism. The essence of the Faith, in every aspect, is ascetic. Even our theology is apophatic – or negative theology – a theology of prayerfully removing from our minds all false images. In fact, standing in prayer is our most basic ascetic activity and study of theology, and the Church’s prayers are monastic prayers. Our fasts, likewise, are the monastic fasts. So it is with the many pious labours of the faithful. Our Bishop, who stands with us as our champion, like David calmly facing the giant Goliath, is usually a monastic. Unlike him, we may be married, but even marriage, lived out in an Orthodox manner, is an ascetic feat. With the monks, we are all engaged in a continual war with the passions, remembering that, in a war, it is possible to be defeated. The Orthodox are at war with Death, the ultimate affliction, the Enemy, the ultimate foe of creation, and the World, the ultimate delusional system. The monks are the warrior caste among us, training us in the strategies and tactics of battle. The monks go before us in theosis, as runway lights in the desert for all we “lay-ascetics’. We refer to the monks as earthly angels, the earthly hosts, surrounding us at all times with prayers, amid more angels than stars. There are banners in the invisible world, trumpets in this seeming silence, incense thick in the air, and the din of heroes. – DD