+JMJ+ With Lent fast approaching I ask a question: Is mortification still a thing for Catholics? I know it’s still a practice recommended by the Church, and I don’t see how anyone can make any spiritual progress without it, but do people include mortification in their spiritual practice anymore? Do they even have a spiritual practice? I’m asking because whenever I see mortification mentioned, it’s always in a negative sense, as in, “I want to focus on the positive this Lent, not focus on the negative.” I don’t even know what that gobbledygook means, but I do know that it can have serious consequences for a spiritual life.
Neglecting to mortify ourselves and our demanding appetites is a surefire way to have a weak spiritual life. Think of it as neglecting one’s physical body, neglecting to exercise one’s muscles and get them in shape, and then expecting to lift weights successfully. I may or may not ever compete in physical weightlifting, but I have to participate in spiritual combat, each and every day. All of us do. Our ancient enemy is always on the prowl, seeking souls to devour. To schlep along, doing “positive” things (read: stuff I like to do) and never doing “negative” things (read: stuff I don’t like to do, things hard for me to do) is a great battle plan for someone who wants to avoid spiritual combat, but no help at all to anyone who wants to succeed.
The Christian’s life is filled with spiritual battles. Accept that truth and make plans accordingly and then follow through. To do otherwise is to guarantee defeat. Mortify your appetites little by little, then more and more. I’ve discovered over the years that growing stronger in virtue takes effort, but growing stronger in vice takes hardly any effort at all.
Thanks for visiting the blog and reading. May we grow in holiness and virtue in the approaching Lenten season, and, by His grace, become the saints the Lord intends us to be. God bless you, and may His peace be always with you. +JMJ+
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Helpful Notes and Links
- Introduction to the Spiritual Life: Walking the Path of Prayer with Jesus, by Brant Pitre: Hardcover, Kindle. (Amazon affiliate links, see Full Disclosure below)
- Introduction to the Devout Life, by St. Francis de Sales, translated by John K Ryan, Image Classics: Paperback. (Amazon affiliate links, see Full Disclosure below)
- Lent 2023: The Complete Guide to the Catholic Season of Lent, via Hallow.
- Matthew Leonard’s Science of Sainthood: So many great resources offered there, some free, some paid. Check it out. Highly recommended!
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