In the Medieval German rites for enclosure of an anchorite, the anchorite is given a crucifix with the words:
Take this image of the Crucified, whose suffering and death you shall always keep in your heart.
I was reading today about some of the ascetics of medieval anchorites – not eating, not sleeping, one even threw herself into fires. Also some of the desert parents! All of these sound really weird to us. But have we gone too far the other way and completely ignored asceticism. We are physical beings and we proclaim our faith using physical means.
And then I remembered the above from the German enclosure rites. We follow the one who sacrificed Himself on the cross. Julian of Norwich has a vision of Jesus on the cross. In a Carthusian cell there hangs only a crucifix.
So … let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater (asceticism) and let’s remember whom we follow and let’s meditate on His cross.