We began hypothesis 28 this evening. I have to say that it is one of the clearest and most straightforward explanations and discussion of the ascetical life. What comes forward through the fathers’ teaching is not only the necessity of asceticism, of striving for God and for the life of virtue, but also the beauty that one begins to see and the sweetness of the life of virtue that one begins to taste. The ascetic life is indeed filled with toil and sweat. However, it is not simply a test of endurance. The Christian has set before his eyes the Beloved and the promises He holds out before us of intimacy with Him and the experience of the joy of the kingdom.
There are so many things that create a resistance within us to this kind of striving. Laziness and negligence can easily take over when that desire for God grows cold and when our hearts become indifferent to the blessings that He offers us as well as the consolation that comes from fidelity to His commandments. We must, the fathers tell us, have a good beginning. In fact, Abba Isaac tells us if we want to begin a Godly work, we must first give a promise to God that we will not live for the present life and that we will be prepared to die rather than sacrifice what is pleasing to Him. Hope for the present life ennervates the mind and does not allow us to make any progress. We must be clear in our purpose. The love of Christ must compel us.
Text of chat during the group:
00:19:10 Anthony: EXACTLY: We need a vision to love to make this irksome asceticism worthwhile.
00:23:58 Carol Nypaver: St. Josemaria Escriva called it “the heroic minute” when the alarm goes off in the morning.
00:29:37 Anthony: Is there some kind of hoe or spade available to cut thorns out without cutting our hands?
00:31:56 Lee Graham: In Therapy, ice water is used to help people stop cutting. They are told that whenever they get the urge to cut, to place their arm in ice water.
00:33:34 Lee Graham: Releases endorphins as does the cutting
00:42:07 Anthony: That is a Stoic understanding of asceticism. They have nothing to love. And with our formerly Catholic culture stripped of beauty to become a Puritan existence, our positive asceticism for the beatific vision becomes mere endurance
00:57:00 Carol Nypaver: Please explain “casting oneself into the sea of afflictions.” Seeking out afflictions?
01:07:55 Denise T. : As a mom of many children how do I maintain an indifference to all earthly things? What does that look like? I have a hard time with that concept.
01:09:33 Ashley Kaschl: Anecdotally, the parts of this concerning toiling and knowing without praxis, has me thinking about a period of aridity I was experiencing some time ago. Adoration is usually where I spend my time when this happens and I was so tired when I finally managed to get there one day that I assumed a position that I knew I could remain reverent in for a long time without growing weary of it, where I could remain still and quiet because interiorly I was anything but.
I asked the Lord why it was so hard to pray, why it was so hard hear Him, and why I was so restless all the time. And after a while, the answer came very clearly, accompanied by all the extra things I had taken on because of my restlessness and because of my lack of trust in Him, and He reminded me that, “I am a jealous God.” I think I’m very prone to forgetting this, that when the Lord has invited one along the narrow path, we are not supposed to pick up extra burdens, tasks, or to take up other paths when there is a storm when in reality the Lord
01:10:42 Ashley Kaschl: is only asking me to take shelter and not to deviate.
01:11:35 Ambrose Little, OP: @Denise, with regards to your comment above, I tend to think that part of our service to and love of God in this life, as parents, is to love our children--to seek their good selflessly. To use the things of this world in service of others, we can be personally indifferent while understanding how they are means to express that love.
01:15:18 Denise T. : Thank you, Father. That is helpful to me.
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