The four types of the Christian way, part 3
Asceticism: the art of coming to know your self
Of the four types, asceticism is the most misunderstood and abused category on the list. It needs to be said right at the outset what asceticism is not. It’s not the infliction of suffering on oneself, as if suffering were a good thing in itself (it isn’t). It’s not starving yourself, beating yourself, going without sufficient sleep, sleeping on hard floors, kneeling on bricks, binding your thighs with barbed wire, subjecting your unruly members to icy showers, or putting pebbles in your footwear (all these things I’ve actually heard espoused in certain contexts in my time). And asceticism isn’t all about the denial of one’s sexuality or sexual feelings. It’s almost certainly true that wherever there has been a tradition of asceticism healthily understood, there has also grown up a perversion of it.