This also plays out in the active attainment of virtue. We have to strive for virtues–but more than that, we must subject our bodies as Saint Paul says. This is due to the gravitas of our fallen nature, as well as the heightened levitas of divinization to which we are called. This intentional purgation directed toward oneself is what most think of when hearing the word asceticism–cold showers, not having sweets, fasting, etc. But asceticism as well as the ascetic sub-category of purgation are even more broad. The former includes the great efforts to strive for virtue–for example, to study well, to be on time, to be charitable in conversation, and all other virtues. The latter includes little moments of “mortifications” or death to self; there are a plethora of opportunities for this throughout the day.
The point of this all is to see that asceticism should be directed toward virtue; for the goal of the spiritual life is actually divinization, not merely being detached, nor conquest of self, nor any other accomplishment of merely human perfection. So what does this mean for this challenge that many are taking on?