The renouncing of the self is the whole ascesis ofthespirituallife.
In todays gospel reading, the Lord says:”Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” There is no other way to be of the Lord and for the Lord to have faith in you and to bless you. You must deny yourself. This, the renouncing of the self is the whole ascesis of the spiritual life.
More often than not, good Christians want to have everything set right with Christ, and to feel as though Christ loves them. They want this, however, at no cost to themselves. The great evil that man now experiences because of the fall –and there exists no man who is not in this condition–is that man is locked inside of himself. He holds a high opinion of himself. Despite Christ saying that we need to deny ourselves, man is in fear and terror of loosing himself. If you wish to make a good start and to enter even a little onto this road, then you must carefully guard this phrase: “deny oneself”.
And this does not happen simply by having a good thought. In practice, you will see that it costs you. This is because there is no way your “ego”will give up. Man has plunged into sin in such a way –this is the egotistical condition–that, just as one who is fortified in some castle, says: “Let me die here. I will not give up”. And this happens to each one of us.
As far as we can see, realistically man does not want to renounce, to overcome, himself; he doesn’t want to do this in a specific way.Man only wants to renounce himself in a theoretical and vagueway. The person who does decide to deny themself, will see that it is difficult. And this difficulty comes from man, as he has not simply fallen into this egotistical condition, but does not want to get out from it. Sure, he wants to do a few prayers, some almsgiving, and some other so-called “good works”here, at thecastle of his ”ego” but he does not want his “ego” to come out of its shell. And yet in the end,he does not experience salvation.
Holy Hesychasterion “The Nativity of Theotokos” Publications.
Archimandrite Symeon Kragiopoulos
Sunday after the Holy Cross