Sunday, April 10, 2011


As we get closer to the commemoration of our Lord's Passion, we might consider the value of mortification or self denial. In the practice of this dying to self, we find that it is good not only for our souls but also for our general well being. We become of stronger character, more productive and, yes, even happier.  

There are two kinds of mortification: passive and active. Passive mortifications have to do with accepting certain circumstances and events that we would rather avoid. It means peacefully accepting interference to our plans, putting up with annoyances and sometimes with annoying people. It also involves cheerfully sharing the sufferings of Christ, that is, those pains and illnesses that we medicines cannot relieve. We remember the prayer of our Lord: "My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!" (Mt. 26:42)

The following is taken from In Conversation with God the second volume of daily meditations:
As well as those mortification known as 'passive' -- mortifications which present themselves to us without our looking for them -- the mortifications that we propose to ourselves (and seek out) are called active mortification.  Amongst these, the mortifications which refer to the control of our internal senses are especially important for our interior progress and for enabling us to achieve purity of heart.  These are: mortification of the imagination - avoiding that interior monologue in which fantasy runs wild, by trying to turn it into a dialogue with God, present in our soul in grace.  We try to put a restraining check on that tendency of ours to go over and over some little happening in the course of which we have come off badly.  No doubt we have felt slighted, and have made much of an injury to our self-esteem, caused to us quite unintentionally.  If we don't apply the brake in time, our conceit and pride will cause us to overbalance until we lose our peace and presence of God.  Mortification of the memory - avoiding useless recollections which make us waste time and which could lead us into more serious temptations.  Mortification of the intelligence - so as to put it squarely to the business of concentrating on our duty at this moment and, also, on many occasions of surrendering our own judgment so as to live humility and charity with others in a better way. To sum up, we try to get rid of those internal habits that we know we would not like to see in a man or a woman of God. Let us make up our minds to keep close to Our Lord during these days by contemplating his most Sacred Humanity in the vivid and memorable scenes of The Way of the Cross. Let us see how, for our sakes, He walks along the Path of Sorrow.
Fernandez, Francis, In Conversation with God, vol. II. Scepter, 1993, p. 18. 

Father Stanley 

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