The passage from vice to virtue is the subject of the second renunciation.
Asceticism is the effort we make to pass from vice to virtue.
All Christians are called to make this effort; the monk or nun is he or she who dedicates all his or her energies to this effort. ‘The light of the monk is the angel; the light of the lay person is the monk.’
The goal of asceticism is to attain to purity of heart. This is the formulation used by St John Cassian. ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.’
Purity of heart is the condition of having conquered the passions and being full of virtue. It requires the grace of God and the effort of man. The daughter of purity of heart is deep Christian charity—spiritual love. The fruit of purity of heart is contemplation: ‘…for they shall see God.’
We become Monastics in order to attain to purity of heart. This is our orientation. This is our goal.