Way of the Ascetics - By Tito Colliander

I have officially become one of those people. Those people that constantly carry books around with them everywhere they go. Those people who crack books open as soon as a quiet moment appears. I was never one of those people before. 

Way of the Ascetics by Tito Colliander is a collection of short three- to four-page thought provoking teachings about ascetical life. So often we in the world are intimidated by the idea of asceticism thinking that an ascetic lifestyle is not for us but instead for those who are monastics. The truth is that all must dedicate their entire lives to Christ, whether they are a priest, layperson or monastic. This book teaches how to be ascetical while in the world.

Among chapter titles are the following: On a Resolute and Sustained Purpose, On the Insufficiency of Human Strength, On the Transfer of Love from Self to Christ, On Avoidance of Extravagance, On the Use of Material Things and On the Pearl of Great Price. Often the teaching is practical and can be readily applied in our lives as exemplified in the following excerpt  from Chapter 12, On Obedience:

The greatest offering we can present to the Lord is our self. We cannot do this without giving up our own will. We learn to do this through obedience, and obedience we learn through patience. The best form of practice of that provided by the Church in her prescribed fast days and seasons. 

Besides fasting we have other teachers to whom we can show obedience. They meet us at every step of our daily life, if only we recognize their voices. Your wife wants you to take your raincoat with you:  do as she wishes, to practise obedience. Your fellow-worker asks you to walk with her a little way:  go with her to practise obedience. Wordlessly the infant asks for care and companionship:  do as it wishes as far as you can, and thus practise obedience. A novice in a cloister could not fin more opportunity for obedience than you in your own home.  And likely at your job and in your dealings with your neighbour.

 Obedience breaks down many barriers. You achieve freedom and peace as your heart practices non-resistance. You should obedience, and thorny hedges give way before you. Then love has open space in which to move about. By obedience you crush your pride, your desire to contradict, your self-wisdom and stubbornness that imprison you within a hard shell. Inside that shell you cannot meet the God of love and freedom.

Thus, make it a habit to rejoice when an opportunity for obedience offers.[1]  

In what ways can we be obedient in our lives?  I pray that we rejoice in each opportunity.

In Christ,

Pani Amy George

[1] Tito Colliander.  Way of the Ascetics, Crestwood, New York: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1985 (43-44).