Sunday, March 01, 2009

The spirit of mortification

Continuing from Divine Intimacy:
The true spirit of mortification embraces, in the fist place, all the occasions for physical or moral suffering permitted by divine Providence. The sufferings attendant on illness or fatigue; the efforts required by the performance of our duties or by a life of intense labor; the privations imposed by the state of poverty – all are excellent physical penances. If we sincerely desire to be guided by divine Providence in everything, we will not try to avoid them, or even to lighten them, but will accept wholeheartedly whatever God offers us. It would be absurd to refuse a single one of those providential opportunities for suffering and to look for voluntary mortifications of our own choice. Likewise, it would be foolish for those in religious life to omit the least exercise imposed by the Rule in order to do a penance of their own choosing.

It is exactly the same in the moral order. Do we not sometimes try to avoid a person whom we do not like, but with whom the Lord has brought us into contact? Do we look for every means of avoiding a humiliation or an act of obedience which is painful to nature? If we do, we are running away from the best opportunities for sacrificing ourselves and for mortifying our self-love; even if we substitute other mortifications, they will not be as effective as those which God Himself has prepared for us. In the mortifications offered to us by divine Providence, there is nothing of our own will or liking; they strike us just were we need it most, and where, by voluntary mortification, we could never reach.

In order to arrive at sanctity, a certain specified amount of voluntary penance is not required of all; this varies according to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the advice of superiors, and each one’s physical strength. All, however, must have that truly deep spirit of mortification which can embrace with generosity every opportunity for renunciation prepared or permitted by God.

Oh Lord, Lent after Lent, I have looked for what to give up that will be of benefit to me and pleasing to You; and all this time You have been providing the richest opportunities for renunciation in the very events of life. In the very words which turned my heart to You, "Not my will, but thine be done," is the renunciation, the mortification you showed us how to offer. deo gratia

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