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Self-Denial

“Something has to give between the contemporary obsession with the self that has generated an endless market for books, tapes, CDs, DVDs, seminars, programs, therapies, “self-help” gurus and the like; and the ever-demanding teaching of Our Lord: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself….” [Mark 8:34]. This is not a Buddhist-like call to “self-transcendence” in search of enlightenment. It is Christ’s way of teaching us that to defensively, fearfully, or even idolatrously hold onto the “self” as some sort of autonomous entity will only culminate in the loss of our “life.”  To deny such a self-centered way of existence for the sake of the Gospel is to actually “save” our life. “Life” and “self” are very closely equated in this crucial passage. Further, the word “life” is actually the word for “soul.”  So biblically, we discover that the word “self” is basically synonymous with the word “soul/life.” (Fr. Stephen Kostoff)


“Many times, discussions of moral issues on TV can leave us perplexed. Everyone claims that they are truly seeking the “Truth” and that they are advocating “appropriate” human behavior. As I occasionally watched discussions between “intellectuals” and other “experts” on contemporary issues - I frequently came away feeling confused…If one were to listen carefully to these experts one would conclude that “Truth” is a very subjective and fleeting concept… we have taken God and His revelation of Wisdom out of the equation…we have made ourselves the center of everything - we have become self-centered - everything has to serve the individual. As a consequence, we have embraced the idea of self-empowerment, where each individual holds to his own truth.” (Fr. Panayiotis Papageorgiou)


“For the Easterner the goal is nirvana, which means “where there is no wind,” and for us the wind of the Spirit is vital, even when it blows harshly. We do not move from meditation into contemplation, into self-annihilation, into death, in order to be freed from the intolerable wheel of life. No. We move—are moved—into death in order to be discovered, to be loved into truer life by our Maker. To die to self in the prayer of contemplation is to move to a meeting of lovers.” (Madeleine L'Engle)

“Utter denial does not mean depriving ourselves of the necessities of life, nor does it mean we must become paupers and live in rags. Neither does it mean we must lose our individuality, personality and identity. When Jesus speaks of total and utter denial of self, He means we must subordinate our clamoring ego that prohibits us from being the Children of God we were intended to be. Good intentions are not enough. This is why Jesus says, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (George Nicozisin)


“Lastly comes the concept of following, which is the Lord Jesus’ way of calling us to life-long denial. We die to self one step at a time, with Christ leading us. If we refuse His lead, we rely on our own strength instead and inevitably fail. However, if we seek and apply His will to every decision before us, relying solely on His strength, we “will not taste death till [we] see the kingdom of God present with power” (Mk 9:1).” (Dynamis 9/20/2020)


“Our first decision is to deny our self (Mark 6: 34). What, exactly, constitutes the self that the Lord asks us to deny? At first He speaks in terms of our life (vs. 35), and then a little later in terms of our soul (vss. 36-37). The word being translated – psyche – is the same in both places, however. Elsewhere in the New Testament, psyche is also rendered as “self,” according to some translations (Lk 12:19 NAB). We may thus conclude that “self-denial” entails surrendering control of our entire inward and outward life to God.” (Dynamis 9/20/2020)


“In today's gospel lection, taken from Mark 8:34, Jesus says: "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." According to accepted English dictionaries, "deny" means to refuse, reject, repudiate and/or to declare something untrue. If we limit ourselves to these definitions, we do an injustice to the deeper meaning of Christian self-denial. For a clearer picture of what Jesus means, we must return to the original Greek text. The Greek is "aparnisastho" and it has the meaning of renunciation and absolute rejection of whatever is incongruous with Jesus' planned salvation for us.” (George Nicozisin)


“…as Americans we embrace all kinds of discipline when it leads to a positive goal. The two that come most readily to mind are dieting and exercise. We know that for both to be effective, it will take a good deal of discipline. Even fasting, practiced for reasons of good health and “beauty,” is a practice not unknown to the most secular of persons. Then, there are athletes and musicians. Both vocations takes hours of disciplined training, and they may combine this with either dietary restrictions, intense “workout sessions” or simply hours of repetitive practice. We can further add all of the men and women in the armed forces. Basic training is essential, and highly disciplined. Thus, we all know by experience that restraint and self-denial have their positive effects. Yet, this is now completely unmoored from any religious connotations, even though practiced “religiously.” (Fr. Stephen Kostoff)


“Self-denial gets a bad rap because denying ourselves doesn’t come natural due to the infection of sin in us which causes us to associate it with drudgery and unpleasantness. It’s counter-cultural too. The reality is that self-denial is really about gain not loss. We gain who we really are when we deny ourselves out of love for Christ, and with this comes peace and contentment in our soul that no amount of self-indulgence can compete with. However, the paradox is that if we do this with the idea of gaining something as opposed to someone, we lesson the virtue of self-denial. We need to get to the place through prayer and practice where our love for Christ is what compels us and where we deny anything that keeps us from our union with Him.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)


“There are three things especially pleasing to God. Illnesses suffered with patience, works done without ostentation and for His love only, and submission to a spiritual elder with perfect self-denial. This last thing will gain the greatest crown.” (Abba Joseph the Thebite)


#Dynamis #GeorgeNicozisin #FrStephenKostoff #SacramentalLivingMinistries #AbbaJosephtheThebite #FrPanayiotisPapageorgiou #MadeleineLEngle

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