Friday, August 25, 2006

"All I wanted was a simple kind of life"

So... you need to read the Philokalia. I know, I don't care. You need to read it!

"We should remain, then, within the limits imposed by our basic needs and strive with all our power not to exceed them. For once we are carried a little beyond these limits in our desire for the pleasure of this life, there is then no criterion by which to check our onward movement, since no bounds can be set to that which exceeds the necessary. Pointless effort and endless labour wasted on what is unnecessary only serve to increase out longing for it, adding more fuel to the flames. Once a man has passed beyond the limits of his natural needs, as he grows more materialistic he wants to put jam on his bread; and to water he adds to first modicum of wine required for his health, and then the most expensive vintages. He does not rest content with essential clothing, but starts to purchase clothes made from brightly-coloured wool of the very best quality; next he demands clothes made from a mixture of linen and wool; next he searches for silken clothes – at first just for plain silk, and then for silk embroidered with scenes of battles and hunting and the like. He acquires vessels of silver and hold, not just for banqueting but for animals to feed from and for use as chamber-pots. What need is there to say more about such absurd ostentation, extending as it does to the basest needs, so that even chamber-pots must be made of nothing less than silver? Such is the nature of sensual pleasure: it embraces even the lowliest things and leads us to invest the meanest of functions with material luxury.”

St. Neilos The Ascetic

P.S. This affirms as well my thinking that we have lost the ancient art of theological name calling. I mean who today do we refer to as "the ascetic?" Think of the greats. Thomas Aquinas was referred to as "the dumb ox" because he was quiet as a student (and huge!). But guess what happened when the Summa hit the scene. Boo yaa. And Athanasius, my favorite, was called "the black dwarf." Awesome!


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gentleexit said...

No contemporary called Athanasius "the black dwarf". The label only became his in 1984. I've chronicled the mistake here: