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The Anglican Ascetic (Part 4)

By Matthew Paul Buccheri “The teleological end of liturgical asceticism is to be further conformed to Christ, riding upward on baptism’s artesian fountain.”[1]  Finally we come to the telos of the liturgical-ascetical experience according to Fagerberg: union with God.  This deepest union–described by some as deification, by others as theosis, and still by others as theologia–is the re-likening of humanity; it is the process of becoming truly human…once again. While retaining God’s image, what the fall of Adam and Eve stripped humanity of–the likeness of God–is restored in and through our union with the incarnate-dead-resurrected-and-ascended Jesus Christ.  Therefore, the entire…

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The Anglican Ascetic (Part 3)

By Matthew Paul Buccheri A God Beyond Our Understanding God is good.  God is love.  God is just.  These are all positive statements about God, also known as cataphatic theological statements or via positiva.  The opposite of cataphatic theology is the apophatic way.  Kallistos Ware defines the apophatic approach clearly in his book The Orthodox Way:             Recognizing that God is incomparably greater than anything we can say or think about him, we find it necessary to refer to him not just through direct statements but through pictures and images.  Our [Eastern Orthodox] theology is to a large extent symbolic. …

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The Anglican Ascetic (Part 2)

Follow the Leader A central feature of monastic life was the simple fact that it was lay movement.  Moreover, the practices associated with asceticism were not limited to the clergy and in many cases were developed and encouraged by monks.   That is to say, ordained clergy were not central to the role of prayer in the earliest phases of the Church.  But as the Church began to “clericalize” throughout time, the prayer routines throughout the day followed close behind.  This “clericalization” can be clearly seen in the rubrics of Morning and Evening Prayer, historically.  One place where this is the…

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The Anglican Ascetic

Donald W. Fagerberg’s recent book On Liturgical Asceticism sets out to demonstrate that the adjective “liturgical” and the noun “asceticism” fundamentally belong side-by-side. If the goal of the Christian life, Fagerberg argues, is theologia, (borrowing the term from Evagrius) or theosis–that is, deified union with God–then the means to achieve such a state necessarily requires this collision of concepts.

By drawing on the Eastern Orthodox tradition of asceticism, Fagerberg argues convincingly that asceticism alone gives deeper insights into the experience of liturgy and therefore paves the way to this deepest union with God in Christ.