Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday after Ash Wednesday

On the Excellence of Mortification.


Mortification is the training of the soul so as to live a life of holiness and virtue according to the will of God. As Christ was slain on the cross and rose to life, so by means of mortification the diseases of the soul are slain and it is restored to a new and invigorated life.

Since mortification is voluntary it is a sacrifice of love. The Holy Spirit is the priest, the body is the victim, the heart is the altar, love is the fire, and glory is the fruit. Mortification is also a martyrdom of love, a "white martyrdom." It is longer and more wearisome than the red martyrdom of faith, but it too bears great fruits since it is completely voluntary.

Mortification is a continuation of the sacrifice of the passion of Jesus, which supplies all that is wanting in his sufferings. It transforms our bodies into members of his, and animates them with his divine spirit which makes us participate in his sorrows, merit his graces, and finally exalts us to the throne of his glory.


By means of the sacrifice of mortification the disease of sin is destroyed in the soul and the desire for true penitence grows. We are thus impelled to use the means of forgiveness which our Lord has given to the Church, particularly the Sacrament of Penance.

Mortification teaches the will to accept hardships and difficulties. This strengthens and trains the will to overcome temptations to sin, and to this extent is a moral obligation. It also helps us overcome bad habits and replace them with good ones, for example overcoming an habitual sin and replacing it with its opposing virtue. It also teaches us self-discipline which aids us in every aspect of our lives.

Mortification is a means of expiation and penance for past sins committed.


Why is it that I mortify myself so little? It is because I do not love Jesus Christ sufficiently and am not one of his members animated by his spirit. It is because I lead a sensual and carnal life, and despise and shrink from Christ’s sufferings. It is that I am the slave of my body, and seek only the pleasures of the flesh, and despise those of the spirit, being worldly, sensual, and the enemy of God. It is because I am lazy and do not consider it worth my time. It is because I believe I can put it off until another day, a day that may never come.
Our resolution and prayer are of great importance to the success of our Lenten program and so continue to remain the same.

Resolution: To develop a penitential program for Lent involving the three traditional mortifications of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, and to begin practicing it no later than next Monday.

Prayer: O Holy Spirit, enlighten me that I may know my weaknesses and guide me in choosing those penances and mortifications which will be most salutary for my salvation.

By a Member of the Society of Jesus, edited and amended by J. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R.

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