“Grant me, O Lord, my God, a mind to know You, a heart to seek You, wisdom to find You, conduct pleasing to You, faithful perseverance in waiting for You, and a hope of finally embracing You.” – St. Thomas Aquinas
(Photo from Father Lawrence Lew, O.P. - God’s Excessive Love - Used With Permission)
Monday, September 2, 2013
Monday Musings - Mortification
(Image from Biblebios.com)
If God used Balaam’s donkey to get that prophet’s attention, I guess he can use me to get yours. May these periodic postings on the second and fourth Mondays of each month (God willing) generate fruitful discussion and faithful change.
Other than during Lent, when was
the last time you heard anyone preach on “mortification”? - probably as
frequently as you have heard about sin, penance and the four last things.
I ask that question today because
I recently ran across another one of my forgotten index cards hidden in the
back of my desk drawer.
The card was a stark reminder
that mortification was never intended to be practiced just for Lent and should
go beyond our simply giving up candy, dessert, favorite televisions shows, or internet
access for a few days, as desirable and beneficial as those small sacrifices
No! External and interior acts of
mortification must be part of our daily spiritual journey. They are a necessary
means of combating our vices and acquiring virtues.
But are they part of our daily walk? For many the answer
would be not so much.
[Mortification] “like penance,”
the late Father Charles Hugo Doyle wrote in Guidance
in Spiritual Direction “is a useful means of cleansing the soul from past
faults; but its main purpose is to safeguard us from sin in the present and in
the future… and may be formally defined as a combat against our evil
propensities in order to keep them subject to our higher nature and subject to
the Will of God.”
It should not be considered “a
negative thing”.In fact, according to Father
Doyle, mortification “is getting rid of self in order to allow Jesus to live
His life in us, and to enable us to share His life fully.There is no chance of living such a life
without that degree of mortification, which is sufficient to prevent our lower
appetites from leading us into sin.”
Sure some of us eat too much, don’t
exercise enough, and spend too much time in front of the computer. Our physical
and spiritual well-beings would both benefit from some serious behavioral modifications.
What other practices, though more difficult, might be of greater spiritual value and helpful for avoiding sin? The possibilities are endless.
Let me just share a baker's dozen from the “forgotten” list I rediscovered:
Constantly remind yourself that you are in the presence of God.
Listen to Him!
Accept whatever happens as God’s will for you.
Turn immediately to God when you find yourself dwelling on what is wrong.
Look at the Cross when feeling overwhelmed, discouraged, angry or upset.
Grab Rosary when you are about to lose it.
Guard your tongue.
Say nothing negative about anyone.When inclined to do so, call upon God.
Do not join in any conversation critical or likely to be critical of
Stop blaming others.
Stop disparaging yourself.
Let others speak.
Ask God if you should speak.
No one said this would be easy. Are you ready to try?