Thoughts for Reflection from Benedictine & Monastic Authors

Day by Day

2013 August 22 - Finding Ascetical Balance

The Christian tradition has often been accused of imbalance when it comes to ascetical practice. Some saints have performed astounding feats of self-denial, thereby seeming to exalt a body-hating attitude worthy of Plotinus. But this unfortunate tendency to exaggeration is easily exposed when less motivated people try to overdo ascetical practices with disastrous results. “Thus you will know them by their fruits” (Matt 7:20). There is nothing which God has created that is not good and beautiful. Jesus himself declared all foods clean when he taught that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile. “Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles” (Mark 7:17-19). We employ a healthy ascesis, not to deny God’s goodness and love, not to suggest that this or that food is unfit or unclean, but to bring the body under control so that it may cooperate with the whole person in doing good. (page 33)


Lovers of the Place: Monasticism Loose in the Church
by Francis Kline, OSCO