The Struggle for Virtue: Asceticism in a Modern Secular Society

By Archbishop Averky Taushev,

Published by Holy Trinity Publications, 2014

In The Struggle for Virtue: Asceticism in a Modern Secular Society, Archbishop Averky Taushev has skilfully gathered the teachings of the Orthodox Church Fathers on the spiritual struggle, and has presented it in a clear and very personal way that touches, teaches, and inspires. Archbishop Averky addresses the question: ‘What is asceticism?’

He counters the many false understandings that exist. He explains how it heals and transforms the human person and how it is integral to the spiritual life and the path to blessed communion with God. ‘The Holy Fathers say that he who desires to be victorious in unseen warfare must establish the following four dispositions or inclinations in his heart: (1) never in any way rely on yourself; (2) always have in your heart complete, resolute hope in the One God; (3) work unceasingly; and (4) always be in prayer.’

He writes wisely, with simplicity and great clarity from his personal experience on asceticism, freedom, virtue, how to keep trying, never despairing, and in a troubled world holding belief in the God of Love. ‘Man’s personal efforts are like a receiver for the grace of God. The greater and more decisive these efforts are, the greater is the grace-filled help from God that they attract.’

The various topics covered include: the essence and meaning of asceticism; Christian humility; spiritual discernment; acquiring Gospel Love; reawakening our conscience; freedom; guarding the heart amidst the distractions of life; resisting evil; the Christian struggle in waging unseen warfare; and the Holy Fathers’ advice on combating the passions.

It is a compelling book that confronts us and helps us to reflect and contemplate. It puts our actions, thoughts, and focus in perspective as to where we are going and what is meaningful to us. It kindles a desire to root out evil and the passions within, to live a life of virtue, and grow spiritually in Christ.

Source: Lychnos February / March 2017