The ascetic Desert Mothers and Fathers
passed their lives in silence/harsh penance/
The ascetics were called “Athletes for Christ”
because in Greek “askesis” means “athletics.”
Similarly, the Crusades were meant to be super-pilgrimages
and so the pilgrim Crusaders fasted/prayed
before battles/lived lives of austerity/poverty.
It is not that they were against sensual living
but like John of the Cross, they considered
the natural appetites to be like little children
always whining to their mother for this or that –
the ascetics/crusaders felt we must purify ourselves
of these restless urges so we can be empty
to be filled/fulfilled/in union with God.
Our culture’s rejection of the spiritual life of simplicity/poverty
for the relentless pursuit of material wealth
meant that when Vivekananda, a Hindu holy man
came to the West in 1893 to teach Asian mysticism
and give an address to the first Parliament of World Religions
he found westerners dissatisfied with orthodox/traditional religion
like sheep without a spiritual shepherd.
Two keys to mastering spiritual practices:
find yourself a good shepherd/teacher/spiritual director
find the time to practice as much as possible.
Whether it is western meditation with Father Thomas Keating
or eastern meditation with some holy woman or man
meditation can help us take ourselves wherever we are:
in confusion/conflict/peace/sanity –
as we rest in the Divine
contemplation allows us to be
in complete acceptance and unconditional friendliness
with ourselves – whether we are broken and lost
or whole and rejoicing in the Lord –
either way Psalm 36:8 says “They shall drink their fill
of the river of Thy delights.”
2 thoughts on “SPIRITUALITY CONQUERS HARDNESS”
Interesting article on the ascetics and Crusaders who lived lives of austerity and prayer. It’s a reminder that finding a good spiritual teacher and making time for practice are important keys to mastering spiritual practices, whether it’s western or eastern meditation.
founder of balance thy life
Thanks for your thoughts!