Sunday, August 1, 2010

Corporal Mortification

A brief defense.
Mortification is an unpleasant word to the contemporary ear. For many, it has something vaguely to do with "being embarrassed" -- but it also conjures up pain, humiliation, even cruelty. This is hardly surprising: What isn't understood often produces shock and incredulity. In our world of high tension, uncertainty, and psychological stress, why would any sane person welcome more affliction?

Despite all this, voluntary mortification has an enduring power for both the body and soul. Self-denial helps a person overcome both psychological and physical weakness, gives him inner energy, helps him grow in virtue, and ultimately leads to salvation. It conquers the insidious demons of softness, pessimism, and lukewarm faith that dominate the lives of so many today.

In contrast to the extremes of sadism or masochism, corporal mortification is grounded in a healthy view of man and the world around him, namely, that all of us are flawed and have sinful tendencies within us. The practice itself dates back to biblical times and finds its greatest expression in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

1 comment:

ocd sister said...

Thank you for this post, Mrs. Vidal. It is unfortunate how mortification is no longer talked about in catechism or homilies. The greatest saints of the Church all practiced several forms of self-mortification: corporal, self-denial, even cheerful acceptance of something ordered under obedience that was difficult. The Eucharist, prayer and mortification: the weapons to fight sin and evil and become holy. God reward you!

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