Monday, October 27, 2014

The Struggle for Virtue (Holy Trinity Publications)

Asceticism can be a scary word to laity. We tend to largely ignore it, and convince ourselves that it is something suitable for priests, sisters, and monks, but certainly not us! That thought process could not be further from the truth. Asceticism is, in fact, the "constant practice of good works." These works consist of love of God, love of neighbor, and any other works that show we are trying to love God and neighbor. All of this information is spelled out in the introduction of the book, The Struggle for Virtue.

The book then goes on to discuss subjects such as pride and humility, Christian love, conscience, and spiritual warfare. I am not bold enough to pick a section that spoke to me more than the others, because it felt like they were all shouting at me, not in a bad way, but in a you can do better in your spiritual life. You can be better. For example, Chapter Seven deals with the distractions of life. This is something that has always been present, and not a new phenomenon that just affects our current generation. Thus, we must work to shield our heart from seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling or feeling anything that will lead us to sin. Easier said than done. I know!

Chapter Eight: Resisting Evil and Chapter Nine: Waging Unseen Warfare are both vitally important to your everyday life. Four steps are given by the Holy Fathers, which I will briefly summarize:
  1. Based on your life experience, know your weakness and know that you cannot do any good without God's help.
  2. Ask God to reveal to you your weaknesses.
  3. Fear for yourself and beware of Satan, knowing that you can only wrestle with him with God's help.
  4. When you fall into sin, recognize your weakness and know that God allowed this fall so that you will recognize your weaknesses and rely on Him.
Overall, this was a very fascinating read. It was written in a clear and easily understood manner, but the content required you to read and re-read it, so that you could absorb the message. There was one confusing part in the book, which dealt with the trichotomy of man. I always understood man to be a dichotomy of body and soul, but this book touched on body, soul, and spirit. Perhaps one of these parts is meant to be mind, so that it would be mind, body, and soul. If that is the case, it makes a bit more sense to me. If you are a lay person in the Orthodox Church looking for practical advice on asceticism, this book is for you. Catholics and Protestant denominations could find value in this book as well.

This book was provided to me for free by Holy Trinity Publications in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!

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