The Path of Self-Discipline: Rediscovering Sacrifice

The Path of Self-Discipline

The Path of Self-Discipline

Rediscovering the Essence of Humanity

When we hear the term asceticism or discipline, we often associate it with practices like fasting and vigils. While these are indeed important aspects of asceticism, they do not tell the whole story. Asceticism also involves self-restraint and frugality, where we voluntarily limit ourselves to distinguish between our wants and our actual needs. Through self-denial and saying “no” to excessive desires, we can truly rediscover what it means to be human.

Sacrifice: A Missing Dimension

In today’s world, sacrifice is a crucial element that is often overlooked in our relationships with others and with nature. True sacrifice is not cheap or easy; it requires us to make radical and unselfish choices. By sacrificing little or nothing, we achieve little or nothing. Sacrifice goes beyond economic considerations and becomes a profound spiritual matter. It is an ethical value that promotes generosity and creates a sense of communion and sharing among all beings.

The Misunderstood Concept of Sacrifice

The idea of sacrifice has become unfashionable and misunderstood in modern times. Many associate sacrifice with loss or death, but that is not the true essence of sacrifice. In the Old Testament, sacrifice was seen as a gift, a voluntary offering that symbolized sharing and brought about fulfillment. Sacrifice was not about giving up, but about giving in love. When we willingly surrender something, we gain abundance and enrich the world around us.

Ascesis: A Means to an End

In Orthodox practice, ascesis is not an end in itself, but a means to a greater goal. The Cross is the guiding symbol of sacrifice, transfiguration, and resurrection. Ascesis is closely tied to spiritual freedom, demonstrating our cooperation with God’s divine will. While there are limitations to ascesis within the Orthodox Church, the rules and practices serve to emphasize the element of freedom. Ascesis is not a personal decision, but a spiritual discipline guided by tradition and ecclesiastical canons.

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