“In a remarkable little book entitled Body of Death and of Glory, the French Orthodox theologian and historian, Olivier Clément, speaks of the fundamental reason for Christian asceticism.
Asceticism can only be understood in the perspective of the resurrected, liturgical body. Asceticism signifies the effort to strip away our masks, those neurotic identities that usurp our personal vocation. It is an effort based not on will-power, but on a ceaseless abandonment of oneself to grace…. Asceticism is the struggle, the self-abandonment of openness and faith, which allows the Spirit to transform the anonymous body of our species into a body of ‘language’ that expresses both the person and communion among persons. Thanks to this ascetic struggle, we are gradually transformed from an acquisitive body, that treats the world as its prey, into a body of celebration, that unites itself to the ecclesial liturgy and thereby to the cosmic liturgy.
The aim of the Church’s ascetic practices is to effect this change, a radical transformation of the person, from a body of death to a glorified body, a body of celebration.” (John Breck, Longing for God, p. 139)