14 May 2008

Christian Mortification

In addition to prayer, an essential duty in our spiritual life is performing acts of mortification. As we passed from Lent to Easter and now into Ordinary time it is easy to relax in our spiritual duties by thinking that we "survived the penances of Lent" so now don't have to worry about it again until next year. Perhaps this attitude is one reason we fail to progress in our spiritual life? While the penitential aspect of our faith is more pronounced during Lent is not an excuse to ignore it the rest of the year. One of the most memorable moments of the Lourdes Pilgrimage was meditating on the stations of the cross. The Stations provide considerable themes for meditation. As we prepare to begin the year of St. Paul in June, let us remember that his constant teaching was "Christ Crucified."

Reflecting on Christ crucified will remind us to mortify ourselves. According to Cardinal Mercier, "the aim of Christian mortification is to counteract the evil influences which original sin continues to exert on our souls, ever after Baptism has regenerated them." He provides 10 simple steps we can follow to mortify our bodies according to the practice and examples of the saints.

1. With regard to food, restrict yourself as far as possible to simple
2. Pray to God often, to help you by his grace as to not overstep the limits of necessity.
3. Take nothing between meals, unless out of necessity or for the sake of convenience.
4. Practice fasting and abstinence, but only under obedience and with discretion.
5. It is not forbidden to enjoy some bodily satisfaction, but do so with a pure intention, giving thanks to God.
6. Regulate your sleep. Set a strict hour for going to bed and waking up in the morning, avoiding the temptation to "lay around."
7. In general, take your rest only in so far as it is necessary; give yourself generously to work, taking care not to exhaust your body, but guard against indulging it.
8. If you suffer some slight indisposition, avoid being a nuisance to others through your bad mood; leave to your companions the task of complaining for you.
9. Guard against making the slightest illness a reason for dispensation or exemption from your daily schedule.
10. Accept with docility, endure humbly, patiently and with perseverance, the tiresome mortification called illness.
"it is necessary to die in order that God may live in us, for it is impossible to achieve the union of the soul with God by any means other than by mortification." St. Francis de Sales

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