We are not born Christians, we become Christians.
Askein (classical Greek) – to train or practise
Following Christ creates a crisis that calls into question every aspect of our self-image. It is the disaster of the influence of our ego that draws us away from looking to God and loving our neighbour. Today’s pandemic adolescence pits effort against authenticity.
Asceticism is not a series of heroic feats. Asceticism simply lives up to the fact that as slaves of Christ it is a fiction to behave as if we can serve two masters. You cannot. The only alternative to serving God is to serve idols. Educating our affections, living out our love, seeing Christ in all others requires strict practise. To be truthful with God requires that this truthfulness be a moment-by-moment physical routine.
Without fully involving our bodies in this by physically and fully denying our selves Christians reduce the experience of God to a mind-game, making the Christian life into an intellectual exercise of secret and specialized knowledge (gnosis), or to its moral dimensions alone.
Asceticism seems incomprehensible to people in general today, and no place more so than in the church. Asceticism alone can liberate Christians from narcissism and teach us common-love for God, ourselves, and all people.
Ascetic practise requires inductive and intuitive skill.
Askein (classical Greek) – referring to the work of an artist
Both John the Baptist and Jesus were ascetics.
You cannot call yourself a Christian and not be an ascetic.
It is utterly impossible to serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.
– Luke 16-13