Monday, August 2, 2010

Does Way of Love Require Ascetic Exercises?



In the way of love one must overcome their ego-centeredness and become humble.

Elder Porphyrios says of humility, 

Complete trust in God––that is what holy humility is. Complete obedience to God, without protest, without reaction, even when some things seem difficult. Abandonment of the hands to God. 
Ascetic practices are important in this effort. Elder Porphyrios himself engaged in ongoing ascetic practices. He did so with enthusiasm and with a love for Christ. He had a most passionate desire to be united with Christ that all his efforts were effortless. From an early age he learned the beauty of obedience and overcame self-centeredness.  Even though he was given incredible powers by the Holy Spirit, never did he use them for personal gain.  He was always able to turn his will to the love of God and obediently follow the Way of Love.

He says, 

No one can ascend to spirituality without exercising himself. These things must be done. Ascetic exercises are such things as prostrations, vigils, and so on, but done without force. All are done with joy. What is important is not the prostrations we will make or the prayers, but the act of self-giving, the passionate love for Christ and for spiritual things. 
So the Church in Her wisdom provides us with regular guidelines for such activities: fasting, daily prayer and so forth. When we follow the way of Love we eagerly join in these practices with joy because we love Him.

Reference: Wounded By Love, p 156

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