Asceticism

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'''Asceticism''' is the practice of self-denial (i.e., control of one's [[passions]] and base impulses) for the sake of the Kingdom.  The practice of asceticism - called ascesis - is most often associated exclusively with [[monasticism]], although all the faithful are exhorted to practice lesser forms of ascesis through the Church's regimen of [[prayer]], [[fasting]], and repentance.
  
==Suspicious of Pleasure?==
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The word "ascetic" comes from the Greek root ἀσκητικός, which is turn is from the verb ἀσκέω, meaning "I train."  The [[Apostle Paul]] likens the Christian life of prayer and repentance to training for various sporting events (1 Cor. 9:24-27; 2 Tim. 4:7).  As such, the methods of ascesis should not be used as ends to themselves, but as means to the end of [[salvation]], the "prize" which the Apostle mentions in First Corinthians. 
Why is pleasure such a problematic issue in the Christian tradition?
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The problem is about lust (the domination of the flesh) rather than pleasure per se. Pleasure itself is good, not a bad thing, but not something that should be an end in itself.
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Some forms of ascesis take a much more austere - even seemingly unhealthy - appearance than others, for instance Stylitism, in which the ascetic stands on a high pillar or tree for a prolonged period of time.
  
Not forgetting the natural connection between intercourse and procreation, it is only in marriage--a stable heterosexual bond marked by love and fidelity--that we can truly have intercourse that is for the good of the other person, as well as of any children who might be born.
 
 
Outside of marriage, sex is destructive. Desire for our own pleasure becomes a means by which we exploit others, defile ourselves by lust, and cause untold suffering to our children, should we have any (either by killing them, as in the case of abortion, or by raising them in a confused and chaotic situation). (I should also say that lust can destroy a marriage too.)
 
 
The effects of lust can be quite subtle, but in every case it is opposed to true 'love'. (Often when someone says 'I love you' they really only mean 'I lust after you'.) The motions of lust are self-centered and degrading to the full dignity of the human person.
 
 
This, then, is what is at the root of the Christian suspicion of 'pleasure.' Again, it is not 'feeling good' that is the issue, but the lust which disfigures.
 
  
 
==See also==
 
==See also==
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[[Category:Asceticism]]
 
[[Category:Asceticism]]
 
[[Category:Ethics]]
 
[[Category:Ethics]]
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[[ro:Asceza]]

Latest revision as of 07:19, April 10, 2010

This article forms part of the series
Orthodox Spirituality
Holy Mysteries
Baptism - Chrismation
Eucharist - Confession
Marriage - Ordination
Holy Unction
Three Stages
Catharsis/Purification
Theoria/Illumination
Theosis/Divinization
Hesychasm
Nepsis - Metanoia
Hesychia - Phronema
Mysticism - Nous
Asceticism
Chastity - Obedience
Stability - Fasting
Poverty - Monasticism
Virtues
Humility - Generosity
Chastity - Meekness
Temperance - Contentment
Diligence
Prayer
Worship - Veneration
Prayer Rule - Jesus Prayer
Relics - Sign of the Cross
Church Fathers
Apostolic Fathers
Desert Fathers
Cappadocians
The Philokalia
The Ladder of Divine Ascent
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Asceticism is the practice of self-denial (i.e., control of one's passions and base impulses) for the sake of the Kingdom. The practice of asceticism - called ascesis - is most often associated exclusively with monasticism, although all the faithful are exhorted to practice lesser forms of ascesis through the Church's regimen of prayer, fasting, and repentance.

The word "ascetic" comes from the Greek root ἀσκητικός, which is turn is from the verb ἀσκέω, meaning "I train." The Apostle Paul likens the Christian life of prayer and repentance to training for various sporting events (1 Cor. 9:24-27; 2 Tim. 4:7). As such, the methods of ascesis should not be used as ends to themselves, but as means to the end of salvation, the "prize" which the Apostle mentions in First Corinthians.

Some forms of ascesis take a much more austere - even seemingly unhealthy - appearance than others, for instance Stylitism, in which the ascetic stands on a high pillar or tree for a prolonged period of time.


See also

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