May 8, 2021

The word ascesis literally means “exercise.”  This may sound funny to us as we try to imagine how many calories are being burned by the ascetic person who takes lukewarm showers, prays regularly, rises promptly in the morning, or makes any number of small sacrifices throughout a given day, but these are truly disciplines that make one healthy.  Indeed, the hours spent jumping rope or lifting weights or running on a treadmill – by which our muscles are challenged and we are physically strengthened – are symbolic of the soul’s deeper need for spiritual sculpting, that is, the revelation of a good and beautiful soul within.  And because there are no ankles to sprain or knees to blow out, spiritual exercise – needing only intellect and will and the courage to dig deep! – is a long-term game plan for our lives.  Let’s therefore look to the ascesis of Jesus who kept vigil (Lk 6:12), who fasted (Lk 4:2), who went to Church (cf. Lk 4:15), and who prayed on his knees (Lk 22:41) in a way that enabled him to hand over his very body to his heavenly father (Lk 23:46) and thus sound forth the lasting health of resurrected life (Lk 24:31).  Ave Crux, Spes Unica.

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