Lenten Asceticism and Remembering the Martyrs

“And just as painters wipe clean a painting that has often become dimmer with smoke and soot and time, so too you, beloved, use the memory of the holy martyrs. When worldly concerns attack and are about to dim your mind, wipe it clean through the memory of the martyrs. For if you keep this memory in your soul, you will not admire wealth, will not weep over being poor, will not praise glory and power, and in general of human affairs you will suppose that nothing joyous is great and nothing grievous unbearable. Instead, you will be above all those things and will have the viewing of this painting as a constant instruction in virtue.

I mean, the person who sees soldiers acting like men every day in wars and battles, won’t ever desire luxury, won’t admire the soft and dissolute life, but the harsh and tense and competitive one. After all, what do drinking and fighting have in common? To pamper the stomach and act like a man? Perfume and weapons? War and partying? You are a soldier of Christ, beloved; take up arms, not cosmetics. You are a noble athlete; act like a man, not a fashion statement. In this way let us imitate these saints, in this way let us honor the warriors, the crowned victors, the friends of God, and, by walking the same road as them, we shall attain the same crowns as them. May we all attain these blessings through the grace and loving kindness of our Lord, Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father be glory, together with the Holy Spirit, now and always and forever and ever. Amen.” (St. John Chrysostom in The Cult of the Saints, pgs. 188-189)