Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Ascetic (Gk. askesis, exercise). A term properly signifying one who is in training for a race, and therefore abstains from certain foods, etc. It was adopted by the early Christians to signify abstinence from food, wine, marriage, etc., in order to "mortify the flesh" and lead a stricter spiritual life. Monastic orders (e.g. the Trappists and Carthusians) have often practised asceticism, such as abstinence from animal food or even from ordinary conversation. The word is now applied loosely to all devotees who voluntarily undergo bodily suffering, either to gain the favour of a Divine Being or Beings, or (more frequently) to free themselves from the temptations of the flesh.