Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Spirit of Mortification

Today’s selected passage from Divine Intimacy comes pretty close to my own thoughts about mortification and penitential suffering, but says it so much better than I can.

The true spirit of mortification embraces, in the first 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 privation 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 on of those providential opportunities for suffering and to look for voluntary mortifications or 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.
I might quibble with the part about not avoiding or lightening the opportunities for suffering that God sends our way. If there is an easier way to do a job, it seems a little silly not to seek the most efficient way, all other things being equal. Likewise, if I’m hiking on a path, and I come to a spot where the path is deep mud all the way across, but I can easily circumvent the mud, it seems foolish to go through the mud.

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