Elder St. Paisios on the Goal of Asceticism…
“Sacrifice to God is a broken spirit: a broken and humbled heart God will not despise.” You do not overcome self-love by lifting another’s heavy load – this will not be asked of you by God since you do not have the physical strength, but by humbling yourself and bearing a remark or injustice. And if you add to that just a little bit of physical effort out of love and good will, do you realize how much God helps then?
Physical effort subjects the body to the spirit. Fasting and vigils and every ascetic practice, when done out of love for Christ and in conjunction with the struggle to cast out the passions of the soul, are helpful. For, if one does not struggle to uproot the passions of the soul – pride, envy, anger – and practices only one barren form of bodily asceticism, he will nurture his passions with pride. The body’s extra weight is less harmful than the passions of the soul; the first is benign, whereas the others are malignant. I am not suggesting that one shouldn’t practice asceticism; what I’m saying is that one should come to an understanding of the asceticism which has as its goal the divesting of the old man within.”
– ‘Passions and Virtues’