Lesser Ascesis

On October 15 we remember the Venerable Martyr Lucian, Presbyter of Antioch

St. John Chrysostom writes of St. Lucian:

He scorned hunger: let us also scorn luxury and destroy the power of the stomach that we may, when the time that requires such courage comes for us, be prepared in advance by the help of a lesser ascesis, to show ourselves glorious at the time of battle.

The part that I find most helpful is the bit about doing “lesser ascesis.” It confirms that fasting and denying oneself has benefit in the future when larger temptations come our way. Lesser ascesis is, according to Tito Colliander in his excellent little book, “Way of the Ascetics,” warfare directed against the life of self-will. He puts it this way,

If you have the urge to ask something, don’t ask! If you have the urge to drink two cups of coffee, drink only one! If you have the urge to look at the clock, don’t look! If you wish to smoke a cigarette, refrain! If you want to go visiting, stay home!

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5 Comments

Filed under Orthodox Christianity

5 responses to “Lesser Ascesis

  1. Bob Emeson

    I get where your coming from, it’s turning down that second morning cup of coffee that is hard for me.

  2. David Felker

    Well said,…

  3. s-p

    Good stuff. I usually think of myself as “the hero” so I’m not looking for little stuff, I want something BIG to do… (and fail at….sigh). “Being faithful in the small things” is a harder spiritual discipline than doing one “big thing” once in a lifetime.

  4. Joan Kirkpatrick

    Hmmmm, food for thought. Thanks, Father James.

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