by Fr. Eusebios Vittis
The selfish man is characterized by his enslavement to the pleasures, and by a lack of patience amidst unpleasant circumstances, whatever they may be. For this reason, when he succeeds in satisfying his own will, he finds himself in a state of pleasure and arrogance, and, when he doesn’t succeed, he is tyrannized by pain and pleasure and feels a sense of choking in his soul, which is a foretaste of the Gehenna of fire.
The wise man acts exactly the opposite, because wisdom constitutes the source of self-restraint and patience. With temperance, the wise man bridles his will and with patience endures all of the unpleasant events in life. According to that which is written above, all of which comes from the teaching of the bishop and holy-martyr Peter of Damascus, ascesis takes on the following process:
1. Denial of one’s own mind-set (φρόνημα), which is the starting point.
2. Acceptance of the Divine Will in place of that which he previously possessed.
3. Keeping the commandments of God, as a specific expression of God’s will.
4. An ordering of things, where man wants the will of God.*
5. Automatic denial of selfish delight, and an acceptance of suffering--something that is implied in the usurping of the Divine Will.
This is ascesis.
Translation © M. Tishel
*After consulting a Greek linguist, the translator conclude that the meaning of this sentence is a bit abstract even in the original Greek text. This of course could be due to a number things, not the least of which might be a minor error in word choice etc. To maintain the integrity of the text, we decided to leave it as is.