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Its object is the subordination of the lower appetites to the dictates of right reason and the law of God, with the continued and necessary cultivation of the virtues which the Creator intended man to possess.Absolutely speaking, the will of God in this matter is discoverable by human reason, but it is explicitly laid down for us in the Ten Commandments, or Decalogue, which furnishes a complete code of ethical conduct.Finally, it fails to recognize that perfection consists in the acquisition of something more than natural virtue.It is prompted by the desire to do the will of God, any personal element of self-satisfaction which enters the motive vitiating it more or less.The word asceticism comes from the Greek askesis which means practice, bodily exercise, and more especially, atheletic training.
If for personal satisfaction, or self interest, or any other merely human reason, a man aims at the acquisition of the natural virtues, for instance, temperance, patience, chastity, meekness, etc., he is, by the very fact, exercising himself in a certain degree of asceticism.
The "neighbour" of the Jew was one of the chosen people, and even of him rigorous justice was to be exacted; it was an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth.
In the Christian dispensation the neighbour is not only one of the true faith, but the schismatic, the outcast, and the pagan.
At present it is not infrequently employed in an opprobrious sense, to designate the religious practices of oriental fanatics as well as those of the Christian saint, both of whom are by some placed same category.
It is not uncommonly confounded with austerity, even by Catholics, but incorrectly.
He will punish himself severely, either to atone for failures, or to harden his powers of endurance, or to strengthen himself against furure failures.