By Roberto Assagioli, date unknown, original title: Modern Ascetics. Translated from Italian by Gordon Symons, from the Assagioli Archive in Florence.
Asceticism is psychic, moral and spiritual gymnastics.
2nd. WAYS TO PRACTICE ASCETISM
a) Ancient asceticism. It was effective and often heroic, but it used artificial methods that were often too violent: it aimed too much to produce physical pain, was conceived too separatively, and often tended to become an end in itself.
b) Modern concept, free of asceticism: acceptance and use of the trials imposed on us by daily life as an ascetic discipline.
It is asceticism chosen by God for us, so it has all the guarantees that it is right for our needs. It is absurd to impose new tests on ourselves if we do not yet know how to overcome, spiritually, what everyday life brings us (it would be ridiculous to wear a sackcloth and grumble about bad weather, about the crowded tram and about obstacles or individual problems) . Only those who can pass these tests well can afford the luxury of getting new ones! What matters is the ascetic inner attitude, that is, the constant attitude of considering every event and incident of daily life as a test and exercise of inner gymnastics, as a lesson and message from God. This transfigures daily life: it spiritualizes the most common and prosaic activities, makes it poetic, interesting and romantic, and becomes a spiritual work of art.
Then the pinpricks, the small troubles, like the beatings, the injustices, the complications and the hardships, are received with a generous soul, with a smiling face. Their acceptance, harmonization and overcoming are done not as ends in themselves, not as a regrettable duty, but as a precious opportunity for the development of virtues and spiritual powers. Then every little victory is pure joy. This is our asceticism.
The Ascetics of joy.« Back to Glossary Index