All posts tagged: Desert Fathers

Asceticism as Healing Art

Healing takes many different forms because it is a response to many different kinds of threats. A cut and a broken leg are each healed differently because the damage is different; nevertheless, the same end is sought in both cases. The root of the word “heal” in old English (haelan) means to cure, to save, to make whole, sound, and well. That must further explain why we can apply the word metaphorically to matters other than the physical body. We can say that both a heart attack and a broken heart must heal, although one is physical and the other spiritual. The sense that healing is required arises when we have the sensation that the whole is not sound, an integrity has been lost, a quality has been lessened by some damage. We are not wholesome. I am going to claim here that asceticism, as it is practiced in the Christian tradition, is a healing discipline. I am going to do so because asceticism also arises from the same sensation that something is not sound, …