Our spiritual health and growth, like our physical health and growth, depend on daily exercise. The church often refers to this exercise as ascesis. Ascesis involves commitment, practice, and the remembrance of what is important. True ascesis becomes a way of daily life. Without exercise we become weak and our spirit atrophies.
How can we strengthen our life in the church?
The direction of a spiritual father, continual contact with him.
Frequent resort to the sacraments, careful preparation before receiving them, participation in Church services, prayer at home, the daily reading of the Gospels and religious books, the observance of the Church calendar, friendship and contact with people who believe and belong to the Church.
Alexander Elchaninov, The Diary of a Russian Priest
Read Fr. Elchaninov on self-denial.
Let’s not forget that “ascesis” referred originally to physical training, as for an athletic contest. Everything is tied together.
Good point, Joe. You are quite right. The physical and spiritual are always deeply connected. Thank you for offering this clarification.