Then Jesus said to all,
“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
yet lose or forfeit himself?” – Luke 9. 23 – 25
As the Lenten Journey begins, the lectionary readings for today set before us an invitation to positive asceticism. Valentin Tomberg helpfully describes positive asceticism in the following way:
“Positive asceticism does not struggle against the body but rather against the seed of evil in the soul, for the sake of its reunion with God…And if for example, [someone] passes the night in prayer, without sleep, they do not do so in order to deprive the body of rest, but rather in order to unite with God in prayer. St. Martin gave his coat to a poor man not because he wanted to make his body suffer from the cold but rather because he wanted to put an end to the suffering of his neighbor, whose body was deprived of protection against the cold. St. Anthony went into the desert not in order to make his body suffer but rather in order to be alone in the presence of God. A monk renounces marriage not because he hates love, women and children but rather because he is fired by the love of God and there is no room in him for another love. Positive asceticism is universal…The principle of positive asceticism is found enunciated in the Gospel in a way that could not be clearer: “the kingdom of heave in like a treasure hidden n a field, which a man found and and covered up, ten in his joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13.44).
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