Anestis Keselopoulos on St Gregory Palamas: Ascetic Endeavour

‘Christian ethics are not a formal exposition of objective moral rules and principles that govern man’s actions and behaviour. Rather, they are the manifestation of ascetic labour, the observance of the commandments and the fulfillment of the virtues of Christ…Asceticism, properly understood, strives towards the development and transfiguration of the entire man.’

‘It must be understood that ascetic endeavour is not directed against the  body, but against movements of the body that are contrary to nature.  It is not turned against need, but against superfluous demands, irrational desires, and more generally, against the passions. ‘

‘Ascetic endeavour “does not aspire to ethical standards, in other words, to objectively attested virtues that may simply be natural talents. It aspires to test human freedom that insists on turning to God in spite of the rebellious opposition of human nature itself.'” (Chr. Yannaras)

‘Through their own personal experience, St Gregory Palamas and the Church Fathers understood how ascetic endeavour is a power that stifles the uprisings of the body,  withers the fury of wrath and carnal desires, and gives rise to inner peace and clarity of thought. ‘

‘Obedience, poverty and virginity are monastic virtues that constitute the centre of monastic ascetic endeavour. But as was stated earlier, this does not mean that ascetic endeavour is restricted only to this framework. The Orthodox Church is ascetic by tradition because ascetic endeavour is the foundation and precondition for theosis and divine vision. Ascetic endeavour is man’s continuous attempt at purification and returning to God and to his true self.’

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