Lenten Reading: Tito Colliander’s “Way of the Ascetics”

I want to recommend to my readers Tito Colliander’s Way of the Ascetics (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press: 1960/2003).

It begins and ends much like St. Benedict’s Rule. That in itself is a major attraction for me.

If you wish to save your soul and win eternal life, arise from your lethargy, make the sign of the Cross and say:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Faith comes not through pondering but through action. Not words and speculation but experience teaches us what God is. . . .

Arise, then; but do so at once, without delay. Do not defer your purpose till “tonight” or “tomorrow” or “later, when I have finished what I have to do just now.” The interval may be fatal.

No, this moment, the instant you make your resolution, you will show by your action that you have taken leave of your old self and have now begun a new life, with a new destination and a new way of living. Arise, therefore, without fear and say: Lord, let me begin now. Help me! For what you need above all is God’s help. Hold fast to your purpose and do not look back. (pp. 1, 2-3)

Therefore, if you wish to save your soul and win eternal life, arise moment by moment from your dullness, bless yourself with the sign of the Cross and say: Let me, Lord, make a good beginning, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. (p. 101)

But there are other searching passages:

Now that we know where the battle we have just begun is to be fought, and what and where our goal is, we also understand why our warefare ought to be caled the invisible warfare. It all takes place in the heart, and in silence, deep within us; and this is another serious matter, on which the holy Fathers lay much stress: keep your lips tight shut on your secret! If one opens the door of the steam bath the heat escapes, and the treatment loses its benefit.

Thus say nothing to anyone of your newly conceived purpose. Say nothing of the new life you have begun or of the experiment you are making and experiences you expect to have. All this is a matter between God and you, and only between you two. The only exception might be your father-confessor.

This silence is necessary because all chatter about one’s own concerns nourishes self-proccupation and self-trust. (pp. 9-10)

And:

Hereafter you will consider that everything that happens to you, both great and small, is sent by God to help you in your warfare. He alone knows what is necessary for you and what you need at the moment: adversity and prosperity, temptation and fall. Nothing happens accidentally or in such a way that you cannot learn from it; you must understand this at once, for this is how your trust grows in the Lord whom you have chosen to follow. (p. 10)

I will post more excerpts later.

Although Way of the Ascetics, is available online (Way of the Ascetics; NOTE: Chapter four is missing), let me encourage you to purchase your own print copy.

Preferrably through Eighth Day Books.

SCOTUS to Hear Partial Birth Abortion Ban Appeal

Almost two years ago, the Bush’s federal law on partial birth abortion was declared unconstitutional. We learn today that, the newly-staffed SCOTUS will reconsider the case:

The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will consider the constitutionality of banning a type of late-term abortion, teeing up a contentious issue for a newly-constituted court already in a state of flux over privacy rights.

The Bush administration has pressed the high court to reinstate the federal law, passed in 2003 but never put in effect because it was struck down by judges in California, Nebraska and New York.

The outcome will likely rest with the two men that President Bush has recently installed on the court. Justices had been split 5-4 in 2000 in striking down a state law, barring what critics call partial birth abortion because it lacked an exception to protect the health of the mother. . . .

The federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act prohibits a certain type of abortion, generally carried out in the second or third trimester, in which a fetus is partially removed from the womb, and the skull is punctured or crushed.

Justices on a 9-0 vote in a New Hampshire case reaffirmed in January that states can require parental involvement in abortion decisions and that state restrictions must have an exception to protect the mother’s health.

The federal law in the current case has no health exception, but defenders maintain that the procedure is never medically necessary to protect a woman’s health.

Even with O’Connor’s retirement, there are five votes to uphold Roe, the landmark ruling that established a woman’s right to an abortion. . . .

Bush has called the so-called partial birth abortion an “abhorrent practice,” and his Supreme Court lawyer, Solicitor General Paul Clement, had urged justices not to delay taking up the administration’s appeal.

The case that will be heard this fall comes to the Supreme Court from Nebraska, where the federal law was challenged on behalf of physicians. Doctors who perform the procedure contend that it is the safest method of abortion when the mother’s health is threatened by heart disease, high blood pressure or cancer.