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Way of the Ascetics: The Ancient Tradition of Discipline and Inner Growth

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Written for lay persons living in the world, this is an excellent resource for daily meditation, spiritual guidance and a revitalized religious life.


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Written for lay persons living in the world, this is an excellent resource for daily meditation, spiritual guidance and a revitalized religious life.

30 review for Way of the Ascetics: The Ancient Tradition of Discipline and Inner Growth

  1. 4 out of 5

    Leo and Suz

    This book... wow! The chapters are extremely brief, but pack the force of a spiritual freight train. Outside of the Orthodox paradigm, I'd have no idea really how to process -- or even accept -- what I just read, but as a catechumen on the eve of reception into the Church, I see clearly that I am not even close to being a Christian, and I must spend the rest of my life conforming to this genuine asceticism of heart. This book... wow! The chapters are extremely brief, but pack the force of a spiritual freight train. Outside of the Orthodox paradigm, I'd have no idea really how to process -- or even accept -- what I just read, but as a catechumen on the eve of reception into the Church, I see clearly that I am not even close to being a Christian, and I must spend the rest of my life conforming to this genuine asceticism of heart.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    Spirituality for the ages. Finnish Eastern Orthodox author but I feel anyone can get something out of this book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Our secular society recommends Hinduism or Buddhism for spiritual growth. What has been lost to Western Christianity is the huge amount of Christian literature on this subject. This is a concise book, almost poetic in its beauty. Good to read during Lent, or in times of spiritual conflict. spiritual growth

  4. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    A wonderful, brief book on practice and discipline in the spiritual life from an Eastern Orthodox writer. The book often refences Eastern church fathers, but very little of its theology will pose difficulties for Christians from other backgrounds. I found that the book reminded me much of The Imitation of Christ and of Thomas Merton.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Reed

    Great, well-written introduction to Asceticism and the Monastic Fathers in particular, but Christian Spirituality in general. And it is short. You can't beat that. The writing is simple and beautiful. I reread it as often as I can. The first and last chapters are worth the price of the book. Great, well-written introduction to Asceticism and the Monastic Fathers in particular, but Christian Spirituality in general. And it is short. You can't beat that. The writing is simple and beautiful. I reread it as often as I can. The first and last chapters are worth the price of the book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    I read this when I was in high school and it has stuck with me since. I believe lack of appreciation for asceticism is one of the biggest voids today. Nov 18, 2008: Great practical wisdom to be read over and over.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Zaina

    One I never tire of.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lauri Baird

    A good book to ready annually to properly prepare for discipline of your soul and to continually grown in Christ.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    Simple and clear, Colliander proffers the experience of the Orthodox Church together with the fathers in this concise book about the inner life of the Christian. Asceticism is not a practice that applies only to monks; asceticism is the practice whereby we put to death our selfish-will in order to offer ourselves to Christ. This is a must read; a must re-read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ircolle Colle

    Short, but rewarding work. Great Lenten study, as each chapter is only 2-5 pages (perfect for a daily reading), but full of weighty challenges.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Lincoln

    This is a magnificent book for laymen searching for a greater connection to God and a lesser connection to the world.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    great book. very concise, and written with the layman in mind. much better than the snoozer that is most older Orthodox books on spirituality.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Realini

    The Way of The Ascetics by Tito Colliander Where the ascetics seem to meet the positive psychologists Excellent advice- but will we take it? This is a great book, albeit in small format it has only 125 pages. It is full of excellent advice. The trouble is, we do the opposite. It would be difficult to become an ascetic. That is one extreme, but the other is plainly accessible and we indulge in food, drink (even if only sugary colas) and watch TV for hours, without stopping and taking some time off. From The Way of The Ascetics by Tito Colliander Where the ascetics seem to meet the positive psychologists Excellent advice- but will we take it? This is a great book, albeit in small format it has only 125 pages. It is full of excellent advice. The trouble is, we do the opposite. It would be difficult to become an ascetic. That is one extreme, but the other is plainly accessible and we indulge in food, drink (even if only sugary colas) and watch TV for hours, without stopping and taking some time off. From the book, an approximate rendition: - There are three states - - the man of the body- who wishes to live for his own pleasure, even to the detriment of the others - Natural man- who wants to be liked at the same time by the others and himself - Holy man – who strives to be liked by God alone, without a care for the rest - The first type is below nature, the second is within and the last is above. Then there are some other suggestions that may seem at times sensible, then lame or even outrageous, depending on the angle, the belief of one or another reader: - Do not talk about yourself - Unless you are asked, do not express opinions - Do not make confidences - Changes make no sense: do not change things at your house, working place…anywhere - Do not seek titles or higher positions - BE HAPPY WITH YOUR PRESENT CONDITION This is where the ascetics seem to meet the positive psychologists Obviously, there are domains where the two groups are worlds apart. Positive Psychology places a great emphasis on Self Esteem While the ascetics diminish the “ego „almost to extinction, I would say. But there are other common sense suggestions, where the two rather different groups of people would agree: - Do not exaggerate your apparent feelings - If you are in a state of piety, compassion- avoid making a show of emotions, even if they are noble Saint Basil the Great says that we need to - avoid what is annoying , creates tension and upsets our balance - get rid of noise, futility and bad thoughts The ascetics seem to be people with good common sense, at first look. Otherwise, we would do well to take at least some of their advice.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey Allen

    This book hurt a little bit. It stung to step outside of myself and acknowledge the superficialities floating on life's surface. I'm familiar with ascetic living, but this book offered beautiful origins and took my understanding to a deeper level. I was lured in by large declarations of asceticism and stayed for the intricate guidelines for actual practice. I'll never incorporate a pure ascetic lifestyle - I mean, c'mon, here I am on the internet! - but I will certainly take pieces of this book This book hurt a little bit. It stung to step outside of myself and acknowledge the superficialities floating on life's surface. I'm familiar with ascetic living, but this book offered beautiful origins and took my understanding to a deeper level. I was lured in by large declarations of asceticism and stayed for the intricate guidelines for actual practice. I'll never incorporate a pure ascetic lifestyle - I mean, c'mon, here I am on the internet! - but I will certainly take pieces of this book with me. I was especially moved by the chapters on mental accomplishments, material things and inner warfare. This is a great book to pick up and start reading from any page (and even jump around), as all the covered topics flow so well together.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    One of the most formative books of my life. I am continually reading it - with each ending I start once more at the beginning. Perhaps the title makes it seem unapproachable or irrelevant for those of us not living a monastic life, but in fact this is a book about the Christian life which is ascetic by nature. There are so many layers of wisdom packed into these few chapters; I'm not sure I'll ever uncover them all. One of the most formative books of my life. I am continually reading it - with each ending I start once more at the beginning. Perhaps the title makes it seem unapproachable or irrelevant for those of us not living a monastic life, but in fact this is a book about the Christian life which is ascetic by nature. There are so many layers of wisdom packed into these few chapters; I'm not sure I'll ever uncover them all.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Christian Deysson

    What a wonderful antidote against the contemporary wellness craze! This book is brief, the chapters are short, but the text is extremely powerful. The text has been written in Finland in the mid-twentieth century, but today it stands as an apodictic and radically contrarian manifest against the soft and sticky preachings of postmodern 'Zeitgeist', a healthy breeze of cold, fresh air in the musty, lukewarm atmosphere of our time. What a wonderful antidote against the contemporary wellness craze! This book is brief, the chapters are short, but the text is extremely powerful. The text has been written in Finland in the mid-twentieth century, but today it stands as an apodictic and radically contrarian manifest against the soft and sticky preachings of postmodern 'Zeitgeist', a healthy breeze of cold, fresh air in the musty, lukewarm atmosphere of our time.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Corrie

    You can't help but feel a bit inadequate when reading this. As a Christian, it's the sort of stuff you know you should be doing - turn the TV off, try some prayerful reflection in silence - but always fall short. Nonetheless, Colliander highlights a way through the froth and bubble of the world around us. You can't help but feel a bit inadequate when reading this. As a Christian, it's the sort of stuff you know you should be doing - turn the TV off, try some prayerful reflection in silence - but always fall short. Nonetheless, Colliander highlights a way through the froth and bubble of the world around us.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kenneth E. Hines

    Colliander faithfully passes on the tradition on the spirituality of the Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Faith. As a novelist (and theologian influenced heavily by Dostoyevsky), his writing is concise and vivid. Each chapter is at most four short pages - bite sized, really - and worthy of prayerful reflection. I read one or two every day. I have benefited tremendously from it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dionysi Krinas

    A great little book of spiritual advice that one will keep going back to to re read again and again. If you don't know much about Orthodox spirituality this will give you a taste and if you know plenty this will teach you even more. A great little book of spiritual advice that one will keep going back to to re read again and again. If you don't know much about Orthodox spirituality this will give you a taste and if you know plenty this will teach you even more.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Steve Crenshaw

    I was humbled by this book. If you are truly striving to be more like Christ, this book will help you move in that direction.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Valerie

    Beautiful, encouraging, blunt, and inspiring. Written for lay Christians of the Orthodox tradition or for those who wish to be more contemplative in their prayer life.

  22. 4 out of 5

    James Williamson

    I was given this book several years ago by a dear friend and have finally gotten around to reading it. It came at just the right time for me. It's a collection of meditations from church fathers old and new, stretching back to Anthony, the friend and mentor of Athanasius. Way of the Ascetics gives helpful words of counsel on selflessness and learning self denial, compassion for others, battling with materialism and other topics. Several later chapters of the book are focused on the discipline and I was given this book several years ago by a dear friend and have finally gotten around to reading it. It came at just the right time for me. It's a collection of meditations from church fathers old and new, stretching back to Anthony, the friend and mentor of Athanasius. Way of the Ascetics gives helpful words of counsel on selflessness and learning self denial, compassion for others, battling with materialism and other topics. Several later chapters of the book are focused on the discipline and practice of a life of prayer, and these are particularly valuable pages for the reader. It is a very short book, but not intended to be a quick read. The 2-5 page chapters give a person plenty to chew on in the quiet hours of the morning before the day starts. Also, just a word to my Protestant friends who would instantly be worried by the term "Ascetics" and may notice that this is an Eastern Orthodox work: the writings here are on core spiritual disciplines that all of us need to grow in, and several of the writers are amongst the great thinkers and writers shared by the whole Christian church, including John Chrysostom. Don't be afraid! Just read and try to learn how better to walk with God from experienced fellow Christians. Definitely a worthwhile book and well recommended.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Beshay

    This is not an ordinary love-dose, easy guide book towards Christianity. Rather it’s a book for self-reflection, reproach, anguish of the heart and mostly repentance! The Way of the Ascetic is about the practices of losing ones life for gaining Christ, it’s about the choices of a daily struggle of carrying ones cross, in other words total self-denial of the humanly comforts and pleasures to reach the spiritual man. For that I truly loved this book, because it has challenged me to a path were the This is not an ordinary love-dose, easy guide book towards Christianity. Rather it’s a book for self-reflection, reproach, anguish of the heart and mostly repentance! The Way of the Ascetic is about the practices of losing ones life for gaining Christ, it’s about the choices of a daily struggle of carrying ones cross, in other words total self-denial of the humanly comforts and pleasures to reach the spiritual man. For that I truly loved this book, because it has challenged me to a path were the guarding of my heart, tongue and thoughts (and even the denial for that cup of coffee) are an opportunity to lift prayer to and be consoled by and only by my Creator and True Love, Christ!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Carole Habib

    This book is the definition of amazing. It dives so deep into your inner self. Deep for self reflection and spirituality. It’s a must! Some might read it and think it is “too intense level of spirituality”, but I think it is good for one to always aim for better. So yes maybe some things are “too intense”, for example more monastic level, but you take and leave what you want. Basically use your judgement. But kind of book you have to read VERY slowly. One or two chapters MAX per day so you can r This book is the definition of amazing. It dives so deep into your inner self. Deep for self reflection and spirituality. It’s a must! Some might read it and think it is “too intense level of spirituality”, but I think it is good for one to always aim for better. So yes maybe some things are “too intense”, for example more monastic level, but you take and leave what you want. Basically use your judgement. But kind of book you have to read VERY slowly. One or two chapters MAX per day so you can reflect on it and meditate. It is the kind of book you could read with your bible everyday, and start it over and over again. I just love it

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rick Boyer

    This little volume is a wonderful guide to the life of Christian prayer and spiritual growth. It features a selection of reflections on Scripture and the writings of a number of Orthodox church Fathers, including St. Basil the Great, St. John Chrysostom, Macarius of Egypt, and others. Colliander reminds us that these brilliant theologians still speak to us today; and their message is vital, as the church is assaulted by superficial pop-theology, peddlers of the me-first prosperity gospel, and th This little volume is a wonderful guide to the life of Christian prayer and spiritual growth. It features a selection of reflections on Scripture and the writings of a number of Orthodox church Fathers, including St. Basil the Great, St. John Chrysostom, Macarius of Egypt, and others. Colliander reminds us that these brilliant theologians still speak to us today; and their message is vital, as the church is assaulted by superficial pop-theology, peddlers of the me-first prosperity gospel, and the pernicious influence of Christian nationalism, aka, "Dominionism."

  26. 5 out of 5

    Anam Cara

    This little book is 26 short chapters long - each only two to three pages. I read a chapter a day and was finished in less than a month. The information comes from the Early Church Fathers which the author has gleaned from and rewritten for the layman. Every page is a jewel and I feel that even reading as slowly as I did, I was not able to absorb all the wonderful truths. This is definitely a book to be reread over and over again!

  27. 4 out of 5

    David Di Giacomo

    The teaching of the Fathers, boiled down and condensed into practical bite-sized pieces, with no loss of flavour. If I could apply everything in this book -- no, if I could apply only some of the things in this book -- I would be a saint. This is a book to read, re-read, and re-re-read. Especially during Lent, if reading the Ladder of Divine Ascent is too daunting.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lucas

    Fine little book compiled with biblical wisdom. I decided to use it as a morning devotional and I read one chapter each day. It’s a book designed to be read slowly, processed, contemplated. So take your time. It’s brief and worth your time.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Seraphim R. Pardee

    If "The Ladder of Divine Ascent" is for monks, then this is the layman's abridged version. Tito Colliander brings asceticism into your daily life and provides guidance on keeping it. Highly recommended for anyone wanting to be more like Christ. If "The Ladder of Divine Ascent" is for monks, then this is the layman's abridged version. Tito Colliander brings asceticism into your daily life and provides guidance on keeping it. Highly recommended for anyone wanting to be more like Christ.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Marina Nicolas

    I wish I could give this a much higher rating. The kind of book you wish ended up being longer, wanting to finish it, but knowing you'll be sad when you do. Profound, comforting, humbling, relatable. Both a hug, a tug and a push for the spirit. I wish I could give this a much higher rating. The kind of book you wish ended up being longer, wanting to finish it, but knowing you'll be sad when you do. Profound, comforting, humbling, relatable. Both a hug, a tug and a push for the spirit.

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