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date: 05 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In classical antiquity the term asceticism described the training necessary to acquire a skill. In Christianity asceticism comprises the practices or exercises that Christians undertake as part of the quest for moral virtue and spiritual freedom. This, in turn, prepares the soul for both the contemplation of God in creation and the ineffable contemplation of God beyond words and images. Asceticism, thus understood, comprises a wide range of spiritual practices that must be constantly assessed and employed as needed in the maintenance of spiritual balance. Ascetical practices discussed in this chapter include: fasting, almsgiving, prayer, martyrdom, celibacy, simplification of life, biblical exegesis, watchfulness over thoughts, discernment, liturgical asceticism, penitential practices, pilgrimage, dispossession, labour, and the service of others.

Keywords: asceticism, virtue, martyrdom, pilgrimage, dispossession

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