Random Thought on Mortification

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My mortification should not mortify you.

Too often those who undergo strict regimes of mortification end up mortifying not only themselves but those around them. Their diets dictate all and cast shadows on what others eat. Their rules of behavior are the standard and anything less is unsatisfactory--even if nothing is said, it is clear.

I'm a bad mortifier--when I suffer I believe in sharing. But shared suffering often isn't efficacious, and mortification isn't merely about suffering, there is an end to the action--we deny ourselves some positive blessing or good not to deny ourselves, but to open ourselves to the greater good we would remain ignorant of.

Now, if only I remember to come back and look at this when I'm going through my next bout of mortifications.

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Hi Steven,

Speaking as one of those who doesn't mortify himself frequently at all and certainly not by strict regimes of mortification, being aware that other people are doing so is certainly an encouragement for me to "get my rear in gear" (so to speak). So, sharing in someone else's mortification can be efficacious for those of us who aren't doing enough on our own. (In other words, I can utilize any suffering I can get, because I shy away of inflicting it upon myself).


p.s. Yes, my use of utilize was a joke.

Ouch. I confess. If I'm suffering, you're gonna suffer too. Bad, bad, bad.

Dear Brandon,

Thank you. But my point is a little different, if I may clarify. In my practice of mortification, which is a means to the end of unification of God, if I violate charity, then I may as well not be making the practice. More often than not, my "sharing" mortification isn't something that would prove to be a balm to anyone.

There is a way to share the results of mortification in such a way that others might be encouraged to try it themselves. This would be in kindness, humility, service, courtesy, justice, and prayer. And, you can let those to whom you are dedicating certain acts know that you are devoting them to their particular causes. Of recent date I observed (mostly) the fast from the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross until Christmas which was enjoined on CArmelites in the past. This was not a requirement/is not a requirement presently and it was done in consultation with my spiritual director. During this time I could offer that fast for the needs of individuals and I would tell them that I was doing so. This in no way enjoined them to fast, but it let them know that this is a practice that others undertake.

THAT is the proper way to use mortification to encourage others. Alas, all too often, my form of sharing manifests itself in "kicking the cat." Hardly edifying.

Nevertheless, I do appreciate your point and it is one worthy of consideration in the future.




I did understand your original point, and if it were me doing the mortification, I would agree entirely. My point was somewhat directed at not passing up the opportunities for little mortifications that get thrown in our way. So if someone is grouchy, or grumpy, or in a bad mood, especially if it were because of prayer or fasting or anything else in his life that we don't know about, he is giving us the opportunity to mortify ourselves by not returning the grumpiness.


Dear Brandon,

Yours is an excellent point and the "backbone" of St. Therese's little way. She pointed out that we needn't go out of our way to practice mortification--in most cases daily life handed us quite enough as it was.





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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on January 9, 2006 7:22 PM.

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