Where do you fit in with Asceticism?

Edited By: Metropolitan Archbishop +Joseph Thaddeus, OSB, SSJt., Ph.D.

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Some of you who read this may not know what “asceticism” is… So, we shall provide some understanding…Basically it means “Practicing self-denial”.  However there are clergy who have had to practice this ideal under such strenuous circumstances that one can only wonder if it is truly being fulfilled.  “Self Denial” - - - Denying one’s self the things of this world” which is a form of podvig (spiritual & material struggle – “Podvig” A particular act of an ascetic nature, or asceticism in general.) - - - a personal endeavor mostly taken on by monks and nuns in community or under harsher living conditions that they have chosen in order to come closer to God and to be a benefit to the people or children of God.

Asceticism is a daily action that can take on many forms or ways for all true clergy, both celibate and some who, in their married state, practice to some degree.

In Luke 10:38, the Holy Evangelist recounts that during the Lord’s visit mentioned, Martha was waiting on her most longed-for Guest, while Mary sat at His feet and attended to His words.  Martha, caring solely that this serving was most satisfactory, asked the Lord to bid Mary to help her.  But the Lord replied, Martha, Martha, thou art carefully and troubled about many things.  But one thing is needful, and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her (Luke 10:41-42).

According to the explanation of the Holy Fathers, Martha represents pious bodily podvig (spiritual & material struggle out of the pain of heart for the faith delivered by Jesus Christ), while Mary rep­resents that of the soul.

The narrative of the Lord's present visit to the two sisters is read, according to Church canons, on all the feasts of the Mother of God. For these two reasons the examination of the events and teachings contained in this narrative should be both especially important and especially edifying.

Martha was the older sister, and is presented by the Evangelist as the mistress of the house. She receives the Lord into her home, and is in charge of hosting, food preparation, clearing the table, and offering dishes of food. Her service is uninterrupted activity. And bodily labor, by seniority, occupies the first place in the ascetical life of every disciple of Christ. "Bodily activity," said St. Isaac the Syrian, "anticipates that of the soul.... He who has not acquired bodily activity cannot have spiri­tual activity. The second is born of the first, just as an ear of wheat is born from the planting of a bare grain.” (St. Isaac the Syrian, Homily 56). Bodily asceticism consists in the physical fulfillment of the Gospel commandments according to one’s nature and degree of ability and by the Grace of God through the Holy Spirit. This includes the giving of material alms, the reception of strangers, and concerning oneself with the needs and sufferings of needy and suffering humanity. It includes bodily chastity, abstinence from anger, luxury, entertain­ment and dissipation, mockery and gossip, and from all words by which malice and impurity of the heart are expressed. It includes fasting, vigil, psalmody, bows, and standing at prayer in church and in one's cell. It in­cludes monastery obediences and other outward acts. Bodily asceti­cism requires the continual activity of the body. It passes from one physical good work to another and sometimes combines several good works, performing them at the same time. Bodily asceticism gradually cleanses the soul from the passions, and acquaints it with the spirit of the Gospel.

The Gospel commandments, when they are carried out in deed (actions), little by little they transmit the profound thought and feeling that re­side within. To the one who fulfills them they communicate the Truth, the Spirit and the Life. Bodily asceticism has its limit and its end: this limit and end consist in the ascetic's decisive transition to spiritual podvig (struggle). The gradual transition is crowned by a decisive change. Martha's service ended when the physical serving of the Lord had been completed.

Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ 'feet, and heard his word… (Luke 10:39). The position taken by Mary serves as a depiction of the state of a soul that has been vouchsafed to embark upon spiritual podvig (struggle). This is a state of both tranquility and humility, as St. Barsanuphius the Great has said: "Through inward activity, united to pain of heart (with lam­entation of heart) there is produced true stillness of the heart. From such stillness is born humility, and humility makes man a habitation of God.” (Sts. Barsanuphius and John, Answer 210).  He who has attained to serving God in spirit, leaves behind outward activities; he leaves behind care for the other means of pleas­ing God, or he makes use of them in measure and rarely, in cases of special need. In his spirit he is prostrate before the Savior's feet and at­tends only to His words. He recognizes himself as a creation of God and not an independent being (cf. Ps. 99:3); he recognizes himself as one who is cultivated, and God as the Husbandman (cf. John 15:1), entrusting himself wholly to the will and leadership of the Savior. It is obvious that such a state is obtained by the soul through more or less prolonged bodily asceticism. Mary could not have sat at the Lord's feet and directed all her attention to His teaching if Martha had not taken upon herself the care for receiving Him. Service and worship of the Lord in Spirit and in Truth is that good part that blessed state which, beginning during the time of earthly life, does not cease, as bodily podvigs (struggles) cease with the end of earthly life. The good part abides as the inalienable property of the soul unto eternity, and in eternity it receives its full development. The good part is not separated from the soul which has acquired it—it remains its possession forever.

Physical asceticism very often conceals an extremely important shortcoming. This shortcoming is when an ascetic practices a kind of asceticism imprudently, when he gives asceticism excessive value, when he performs bodily podvigs (struggles) for their own sake, and in them mistakenly confines and limits all his life and all his ability to please God. Such an incorrect evaluation is always linked to the denigration of spiritual asceticism and an inclination to turn those who practice it away from it. This is what happened with Martha. She considered Mary's conduct to be incorrect and inadequate, and her own to be more valuable, more worthy of respect. The merciful Lord, not repudiating Martha's service, forbearingly remarked to her that there was much excess and earthly-mindedness in her service, and that Mary's activity was the es­sential one. By this remark the Lord cleansed the high-mindedness from Martha's podvig (struggle) and taught her to perform her bodily service with humility. Precisely!

Physical asceticism, not yet illumined by spiritual undestanding, always contains much that is earthly-minded and excessive. He who labors therein, although he labors for God's sake, la­bors in the old man (cf. Eph. 4:22). In his field tares grow with the wheat, and he cannot be free from the influence of the thoughts and activities of carnal-mindedness. It is essential for all of us to give due at­tention to the Lord's instruction, and to perform our good works, done by means of the body, with great humility, like slaves who are obliged to fulfill the will of their Lord but who cannot fulfill this will as they ought to, by reason of their weakness and sinful corruption. It is very benefi­cial for those who practice physical asceticism to know that there is another kind of podvig (struggle) — one that is incomparably higher; a podvig or struggle of the soul; a podvig (struggle) overshadowed by Divine Grace. "He who does not have spiritual activity," said St. Isaac the Syrian, "remains a stranger to the gifts of the Spirit," (St. Isaac the Syrian, Homily 56) no matter what kind of physical asceticism he practices. The great instructor of monastics likens physical activity, in and of itself, when it is not assisted by mental activity in one's inner chamber, to fruitless wombs and dry breasts, because physical activity cannot draw near to the mind of God (St. Isaac the Syrian, Homily 58, as quoted by St. Nilus of Sora in the Introduc­tion to his Tradition from the Holy Fathers on How to Live). We see this in Martha. She was so busy with her work, so convinced of its importance, that she did not ask for instructions from the Lord that were pleasing to Him, but put forth her own understanding and instructions and asked that they be fulfilled.

Why is the reading of this Gospel narrative established by the holy Church on all feasts of the Mother of God? Because the Mother of God offered to the God-man the loftiest bodily service and the lofti­est service of the spirit, keeping all His words in her heart (cf. Luke 2:51), observing all the events of His life from infancy and pondering in her heart everything that concerned Him (cf. Luke 2:19). For an explanation of this, something from the following chapter of the Gospel of St. Luke is added to this narrative—the cry to the Lord of a certain woman who had heard His teaching: Blessed is the womb that bare Thee, and the paps which Thou hast sucked (Luke 11:27), and the Lord's reply to this cry: Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it (Luke 11:28). This is God's answer to human reasoning! Human reasoning recognized the Mother of God as blessed solely for giving birth to the God-man. The God-man elevates the worthiness of the Mother of God, calling those who hear the word of God and keep it especially blessed. The Mother of God had this blessedness far be­yond all men, attending to the words of the God-man and keeping them with such feeling as no one else ever had. Here again service of the spirit is given precedence over bodily service, in opposition to human reasoning.

The merciful Lord calls all men to serve Him. Service to the Lord, accompanied by the crucifixion of the old man, with the repudiation of his carnal and sinful desires and understanding, has its labor; but this la­bor also has its consolation—the consolation given by a good con­science and Divine Grace. The yoke of Christ is easy, and His burden is light (cf. Matt. 11:30). He who wishes to enter into the Lord's service with the aim of receiving Him into the house of his soul and giving Him the rest commanded by Him must begin with physical podvig (Struggle), with the performance of the Gospel commandments by means of physical ac­tions. Our soul is bound to our body through creation, and is in de­pendence upon it because of the Fall. It is infected with sinful infirmities and passions because of physical actions. Likewise, by means of physical actions the passions are destroyed in it, and good habits and virtues are introduced to it. He who allows himself to act in accordance with the inclination to anger --- enslaves himself, due to the habit formed by the actions of the passion of anger. He who allows himself to act ac­cording to the instigation of avarice is infected with the passions of ava­rice, usury and miserliness. All the passions enter into the soul in like manner, based on the outward activity of man. Hence one can see the necessity of physical podvig — it is vitally needed for the expulsion of the passions, through works that oppose the demands of the passions; it is essential for the planting of the virtues in the heart, according to the in­struction of the Gospel. Prudent physical asceticism, based on the word of God, illumined by the word of God, accomplishes to a significant de­gree the freeing of man from sin, and to a significant degree forms him into a breastplate of virtue, a servant of Christ. Through such physical podvig, in the shortest time podvig of the soul is enkindled, which is ca­pable of securing salvation.

Both cold and heated physical asceticism which are foreign to podvig of the soul… foreign to that spiritual understanding which is required by the word of God and which must be the soul of physical podvig …are destructive! They lead to opinion, and to suspicion and the judging of one's neighbors; they lead to self-deception and form the inner Pharisee; (Cf. St. Gregory of Sinai, 137 Chapters on Commandments and Doctrines, Chapter 19, Philokalia, vol. 4) they estrange one from God and join one to Satan. When the Grace of God abundantly overshadows an ascetic, then abundant spiritual podvig is revealed in him, which guides him to Christian perfection. Then the soul's sinfulness, hitherto concealed from the soul, is revealed to it! Then the veil is removed from its sight, and unbounded, majestic eternity, hitherto concealed, appears before the soul! Then the hour of death, which before had stood somewhere off in the distance, draws near and stands before the soul, before its gaze! Then earthly life, which until then had seemed endless, is cut down to the very shortest extent—one's past life is like last night's dream! The re­maining course of one's life flows together into one pre-death hour! Then groans, hitherto unknown to it, arise from the depths of the soul! Lamentation arises, which it had not previously felt! Prayer arises, which it had hitherto never uttered! Prayer and weeping arise in the very depths of the soul, uttered by the mind and the heart while the lips are silent, and ascend to heaven. They cast the supplicant down before the Savior's feet and keep him at the Savior's feet. The soul, in confessing its sinfulness and the infinite greatness of God, enters into perfection, is led into perfection by the right hand of the All-good God, Who has cre­ated man and recreates him. Bless the Lord, O my soul... Who is gracious unto all thine iniquities, Who healeth all thine infirmities, Who redeemeth thy life from corruption, Who crowneth thee with mercy and compassion.... Thine eternal youth shall he renewed as the eagle's (cf. Ps. 102:2-5), by the omnipotence of the Savior, Who has renewed our nature in Himself and Who renews us through Himself. Amen.

One of the most debasing crimes to the soul and heart in the times in which we find ourselves is the failure and refusal of a person to commit themselves to reading and talking or communicating with a spiritual father (Vladyka) when they are able to do so - - - in order to be guided properly and appropriately.  For without a spiritual father, one may fall into the chasm.  

Yet, be careful that you have a true spiritual father (Vladyka) who has had experiences and has struggled out of pain of heart for the faith.  For there are several, even here in North America, who claim themselves to be more than what they are - - - even going so far as to claim themselves through, and with, the assistance of others of like mind, to make themselves of a level and degree in Orthodoxy that they never would have been approved of being made by those who are true spiritual strugglers and spiritual fathers…

One does not necessarily have to reside in a monastic community to obtain to the things we’ve discussed here, although it is the best means of true spiritual formation. 

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[ * Non-Denominational = Synchrestic Ecumenism, Disease of Scholasticism, altering the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ to accommodate the disease of Political Correctness and CULTIC PROTESTANTISM, and the Roman Jurisdiction (Latin Church = Vatican) of the Catholic Church) breaking of - or failure and refusal to respect and abide by  - the ancient Seven Ecumenical "Do Not" Canons which leaves everything else open to God's gift of creativity... failure & refusal to abide by and have respect for those who diligently protect one of the other Pillars of the Church, the Seals of the Confessional, but "Non-Denominational" also includes worshiping Satan's religion of Muslim, Islam by praying with them and other heretics such as some (but not all) 'Baptists' 'Pentecostalism,' 'Jehovah's Witnesses,' 'Mormons,' 'Church of Christ,' any so-called church with "Community Church" in their nomenclature and others who by their false and misleading dogmas and doctrines are actually against the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ upon whom and for exacting reason we are called "Christian" in both spirit and truth from which non-denominational protestant sectarian claimants have departed from as being so-called Christian] Only a skilled spiritual father can help you!

Remember: You cannot ride two horses or serve two masters for one of them will be harmed by your thoughts, your very words and your actions which is to blaspheme the Holy Ghost (Spirit) who will depart from you.  And when the Holy Spirit departs, the great deceiver (unbeknownst to you) will rush in to fill the void under disguise of being the Holy Spirit!  Testing of the Holy Spirit to insure it is the Holy Spirit does not, for many a Sectarian Protestant and Roman, work because the Great Deceiver (Satan) is most skilled in worming and snaking his charms around your mind and heart to feign being the Holy Spirit.  Remember, Satan has the same gifts similar to the Holy Spirit but Satan's gifts are UN-HOLY and lead all who accept him (unbeknownst to you) to perdition.


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Ever since a mentally challenged individual "fraudulently" (as it is opined, and alleged) brought an action in  a local Luna County, New Mexico District Court against our Vlaydka and those with him in spirit and in truth, we are still culling the web site for potential problems relating directly to her as she and those who she is with had published a rather dishonorable news rage with alleged white supremist (Nazi?) connections who hate anything "Catholic" (be it of the Roman or Orthodox Catholic Jurisdictions).

Why News for an Orthodox Catholic Christian Church Website?

Daily News is very important to those who are true Orthodox Catholic Christians.  For without knowing or gaining information for understanding about what is happening in one's local area and around the world, you could  find yourself faced with denied services in the secular area, lack of income, even (although it sounds far-fetched) ability to worship openly for the time is not far off when all will have to decide if they wish to follow the Anti-Christ through the One World Church and One World Government as prophesied by the Apocalypse, the Book of Revelation of St. John or follow the faith delivered once and for all which will cause for many to be denied the abilities to survive under those kind of conditions, causing for one to consider other options. 


Many of those who subscribe to, and some who have caused or are the cause for, these things to happen are involved in or with the Roman Jurisdiction of the Catholic Church (which is not the seat of all things "Catholic") as well as its protestant daughters such as the cultic Jehovah's Witnesses, the Pentecostal Churches, the Church of Latter Day Saints also known as the Mormon Church and far too many more to list. 


Yet, at this web site we do provide some of the reasons about why they are opined to be the harbingers of that which is prophesied in Holy Scripture for the bringing about of the End Times which we have already entered.  It is not necessarily their individual members or parishioners that should be blamed since they are only the "Sheep" and not the Shepherds... So do not think we castigate individual people of themselves as we castigate those "money changers" who Jesus Christ chased out of His Father's House as the Bible Describes; for they exist in these present times too.


Events are already rushing toward that time in which this is beginning to happen and will become more fully wide-spread. In these present times all you need to really do is look around both your local and larger areas as to what is really on-going through.  Things so very little or miniscule that they are barely noticeable except to the more informed observer may become apparent. 

Those little things are the laws of the land, economics, politics, the degrading and erosion of those rights and liberties afforded by the Constitution of these United States of America and many other things such as the manner with which entertainments have taken over much of the populace, entering into and becoming a major focus in worship, and more. 

We ask you, if you don't want to believe us... Have you heard, seen or found what is termed (of the many terms being used) that there are "holding areas" or "camps" or "Closed/Fenced communities" being built by GOVERNMENT? 

Here in North America, especially in the United States of America, we must admit that what Russia has come out of (a communistic, atheist country) we are entering into.  And one last thing that needs also to be understood... Something very important to those of you who are "Catholic" in the Roman sense of its jurisdiction....   And, we believe this also holds true for many who are "Orthodox" whether "Eastern" or "Western"....

"Never, never, never let anyone tell you that, in order to be Orthodox, you must also be eastern. The West was Orthodox for a thousand years, and her venerable liturgy is far older than any of her heresies."

- Blessed St. John Maximovitch of Shanghai and San Francisco


So, as said, Daily News is very important to the true Orthodox Catholic Christian.




and the



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(575) 546-9923

Institutions include, but are not limited to the following:


Catholic Christian Church, Orthodox Benedictine,

Holy Order and Society of St. Jude Thaddeus

Brotherhood of St. John Maximovitch & the Holy Theotokos


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