Friday, October 3, 2014

The Struggle for Virtue -- Suggested Answers

Dear Students and Friends,

Below you will find suggested answers to the questions posted on October 1. If you have any questions, let's discuss! Send your thoughts to else10(at)gmail(d0t)com.

Introduction -- Q & A

  1. In the book’s introduction, Bishop Averky says that many people see asceticism as a “fanatical monstrosity or self-torture.” Before you read the Introduction, what was your definition of asceticism?

    Here you may have written your own thoughts about what asceticism meant to you prior to reading this book. You might agree with Bishop Averky that “Normally, asceticism is understood as self-restraint … but without any thought of why and for what reason this is done…” (See the bottom of page x in the book.)
  2. What does the “practice of asceticism” entail?

    The practice of performing good works … that is, works of love for God and works of love for one’s neighbor, or such works as would demonstrate that we are indeed striving to love God and neighbor with true evangelical love. (See the bottom of page xii and the top of page xiii)
  3. Why is the ascetic life described as a “fight” or a “struggle”?
[It is a struggle to force] oneself to perform good works and to suppress the soul’s evil habits and aspirations that resist them … ( Page xiv, bottom)

Asceticism can also be thought of as “spiritual training” as described in I Corinthians 9:24-27.
  1. However, “good works” are not enough. What does Bishop Averky say counts more?

    “Works are limited … the main thing is not works but man’s inner disposition” (Page xvi). Doing it out of duty, or to be seen by others, or because of true love.
  2. How are evil habits “like shackles”?

    “They deprive him of his moral freedom and keep him like a prisoner” and “making the person into a pitiful, weak-willed slave” (Page xvii). Also read Romans 7:18-25.
  3. Some Christian denominations have definitions for “the chief end of man.” What does Bishop Averky say this is?
Some Christian denominations say the chief end of man is to glorify God. However, Bishop Averky states that “man’s success in the spiritual life … drawing near to God and entering into communion with God“ (Page xix).
  1. Why is asceticism for everyone?

    “Everyone is equally called to battle with sinful passions and evil habits in order to free themselves from the oppression of the power of evil … “ (Page xxi and xxii)
  2. What is the will of God for man?

    Perfection, holiness and sanctification (theosis) (Pages xxii and xxiii).

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