When I say “Anchoretism” in regard to Eastern Orthodox (and to a lesser degree Roman Catholicism), I don’t mean it in a negative sense. I am simply describing a convergence of ideas within a particular tradition which lends itself to a very particular piety. So here is what I mean. Following Orthodox theologian John Meyendorff’s discussion of hesychasm, it is the idea that “the divine life becomes available through the human flesh of Christ and of his saints) (Meyendorff 142; emphasis mine). The first part of that statement is fine. In fact, it sounds almost word-for-word the same as John Calvin. The second part: and his saints. Does this mean merely the saints as the communion of the faithful? Maybe, but I think it is more than that. I think it also means that the divine life becomes available through the flesh of relics.
But this isn’t all. Inherent in the idea of asceticism is that one tries to reach divine status by his or her own efforts. Someone suggested to me that “it was the attempt to obtain hyper-ousia by human efforts.” While a bit technical, I think that is a good definition. It is anything that suggests finitude needs to be overcome.