Podcast commentary on this post
Discussion from Kevin and Jacob: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aopLstUPPdE
There has arisen a popular practice in recent years for Catholic men to take on a challenge of deep asceticism to free themselves of modern attachments. This intention is absolutely laudable. The practice is in itself good. That said, asceticism is a subcategory of the larger branch of spiritual theology. Therefore, it needs to be properly situated in order for it to not only avoid excesses but also bear fruit for the spiritual life.
Definition of Asceticism. Asceticism generally refers to the active efforts of the soul toward virtue and holiness. Most think it just refers to detachment–this will be addressed in a bit. Asceticism can only be understood in contrast to the other aspect of spiritual theology: mysticism. This refers to the active role of God in the soul–where the soul is “passively” cooperating. Of course, God’s grace is always first–but, psychologically, it does not always appear that way in our experiential knowledge.