Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"Way of the Ascetics"

by Tito Colliander

I bought this book at the bookstore that was set up at the Women's Retreat I attended last weekend. The retreat was wonderful, just not long enough.

The first chapter of this book is amazing and speaks directly to me and my slothful tendencies. I struggle everyday against the demons that entice me to sit and read, sit and surf, sit and _____. I sit and then I despair because I sit. It's a vicious cycle. I find that reading other peoples blogs only exasperates the whole cycle because I tend to see all of these "perfect" people and the "perfect" lives they live and question my abilities even more.
This chapter spoke to me deeply and profoundly. I have vowed to read this 2 page chapter over and over and over again throughout the day. To find Christ in my day by working harder with my children, opening my eyes to see Christ in them, to see Christ in each and every encounter I have.

Chapter 1 "On a Resolute and Sustained Purpose"

If you wish to save your soul and win eternal life, arise from your lethargy, make the sign of the cross and say: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen
Faith comes not through pondering but through action. Not words and speculation but experience teaches us what God is. To let in fresh air we have to open a window; we never reach a goal by just sitting in comfort and waiting, say the Holy Fathers. Let the prodigal son be our example. He "arose and came". (Luke 15:20) However weighed down and entangled in earthly fetters you may be, it can never be too late. Not without reason is it written that Abraham was 75 when he set forth, and the laborer who comes in the 11th hour gets the same wages as the one who comes in the first.
Nor can it be too early. A forest fire cannot be put out too soon; would you see your soul ravaged and charred?
In baptism you received the command to wage the invisible warfare against the enemies of your soul; take it up now. Long enough have you dallied; sunk in indifference and laziness you have let much valuable time go to waste. Therefore you must begin again from the beginning: for you have let the purity you received in baptism be sullied in dire fashion. Arise, then; but do so at once, without delay. Do not defer your purpose till "tonight" or "tomorrow or "later, when I have finished what I have to do just now." The interval may be fatal.
No, this moment, the instant you make your resolution, you will show by your action that you have taken leave of your old self and have now begun a new life, with a new destination and a new way of living. Arise, therefore, without fear and say: Lord, let me begin now. Help me! For what you need above all is God's help.
Hold fast to your purpose and do not look back. We have been given a warning example in Lot's wife, who was turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back (Genesis 19:26). You have cast off your old humanity; let the rags lie. Like Abraham, you have heard the voice of the Lord: "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from they father's house, into a land I will show you" (Genesis 12:1). Towards that land hereafter you must direct all your attention.


Mimi said...

Ooooh, wow. I do so need to pick this book up.

Gretchen Joanna said...

I love this book--I mean, the small part of me that desires God loves it. It's definitely a good one to pick up once a year or so, and get renewed in hungering for the right things. Thank you for the reminder!

Xenia Kathryn said...

Yes, it's such a powerful book I still haven't gotten all the way through it. Eek! I keep pausing to ponder every other sentence, and I "give up" because I think I'm reading it too slow.

I'm glad you're reading it, though. I'm also thrilled that I got to see you/ hang out with you this past weekend! I wish we lived closer, but I think I need to visit you and Mimi sometime :)

Maura said...

I'm late to this post (and new to the blog :)) but I wanted to say that this is one of my most favourite books!

The simplicity/complexity of this work never ceases to amaze me and of course it *instructs* me in down-to -earth ways.

I intend to always be slowly reading through this book. . .for all my remaining days.