Asceticism and Self-Control … Get a hold of yourself man !

I find it interesting that when most people talk about the fruits of the Holy Spirit, when they get to listing through them, this always gets the label of “Self-Control”.

That is correct, it is how it is listed, but what does that really mean ?

In a world that seems to celebrate extremes in nearly every sense of the word, how is the idea of self-control even apply ? How does one make that work ?

I like to consider self-control, more in terms of self-mastery. Let me explain.

One never truly attains self-mastery. It is instead, like life an experiential process.

Consider this… In our earthly, physical lives, we spend a vast amount of time trying to gain control of our physical bodies. We were potty trained. It was experiential.

We experienced loss. Loss or separation from our parent, or sibling. Possibly we learned that we could not eat foods that made us sick. We had to learn to walk.

We all had to learn as children going through the “terrible two’s” to control our temperament. It also was an experiential process.

In much the same way, our faith life is also very experiential. There is the faith lessons we learn from our parents, and from our ministers, friends or other family members. We take those lessons, and ply those against the world that we understand, or at least have experience with.

How many times have we gone to Mass, and heard the same stories, the same scriptures over and over again, but somehow, it becomes new to us, a facet of the story rings out and touches us because of the experiences we are having in our lives right this moment.

We learn, we experience, we re-learn, and we (hopefully) develop a small bit of self-control.

Asceticism, deals with the giving up of temporal pleasures, but this is only half the story. The other half is the reigning in of ones will, and of ones mind.

Self-control is a bit like Lent. In the beginning of our spiritual lives, a young person may see Lent strictly in the light of the idea that they need to discipline their physical bodies by giving up things. Its strictly an idea of abstinence, or giving up something because “its the rule… Its what we do”.

Later on however, as we grow in faith, we come to the understanding that it’s not just about the thing you’re giving up, it is also a spiritual exercise. Moving from just giving things up, to sharing the love of Christ with our brothers and sisters, and giving those gifts back to God in praise and thanksgiving.

When we take that time, to really dig deep, and clear out the closets and cobwebs in our spiritual lives, and form our own will, our own thoughts and desires, to conform with the will of God, THEN we gain steps on the journey of self-control.

As part of Saint Francis’ Peace prayer goes.. “It is in dying (to self) that we are born to eternal life ”

May God give you the gift of His peace !


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5 Responses to “Asceticism and Self-Control … Get a hold of yourself man !”

  1. Kerry Davis Says:

    this is a good one Mark. (not that the rest aren’t).. particularly felt close to this and related to it. thanks. 🙂

  2. Allison Hinde Says:

    I really like the way you tied in everything about ourselves since we are little til now as part of the Holy Spirit I wonder how many people think the way you do. And I have often felt what you mentioned about the gospels. Thank you,

  3. Allison Hinde Says:

    I left a message did it not go through?

    • brbearsfo Says:

      Hi Allison,

      Yes, your messages got through, although I am not as fast getting the posting done..
      THank you so very much for your reading and for your comments. I greatly appreciate
      your thoughtful comments. It does my heart good to know that this work is shared with others and continues the ministry of praise !

      God bless you on your journey !

  4. The Weekly TCC Field Intelligence Report, v.18.0 | The Catholic Conspiracy Says:

    […] of September is Dedicated to the Seven Sorrows of Mary – Matthew Coffin, Big C Catholics Asceticism and Self-Control – Get a Hold of Yourself, Man! – Mark Banschbach, Reflections of a Secular Franciscan Doing What Is Right vs. Doing What We […]

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