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Asceticism

February 17, 2008

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Asceticism has as its root word and element the word Askesis. Askesis can be defined as struggle, the effort of working towards Theosis. And the part that hurts but that lets us know of His love for us, pruning. Such as pruning a tree.

John 15:2 “He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”.

Askesis is never to be considered a means to an end in itself. It is only part of the path towards Theosis. St Seraphim of Sarov states:

“The true aim of our Christian life consists in the acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God. As for fasts, and vigils, and prayer, and almsgiving, and every good deed done for Christs sake, they are only means for acquiring the Holy Spirit of God.”

The true end of askesis is the mystical union with God, Theosis.  St Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 9:27 “…I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disfigured.”

Askesis may also be called the cost of discipleship. We think in the modern world of cheap grace. Of no price to be paid for the intimacy with God. Yet the bible tells us that we must die to flesh, and live in the spirit for we are new creatures. It is the goal of Askesis that we die to self, that we yield ourselves totally to our Master, so that we might have union with Him, that we might become one flesh.

Romans 6:1 “dead unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

In askesis we are set free from the flesh. We no longer are slaves to sin. We overcome obesity, by our fasting. We overcome a lack of intimacy and power by constant prayer. We overcome the enemy and his doubt casting by constant communication with the Holy Spirit.

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