Monday, 16 July 2007

Mortification in the Spiritual Life

I have recently been reading from a book entitled "Christian Perfection" by St Alphonsus Rodriguez (1530-1617).
I was interested by what I read in the section on mortification in which St Alphonsus says,
"It is true that Christian perfection does not essentially consist in mortification, but in the love of God: and a man is not perfect till he is united to God by the bond of love. But, as a stone which is raised from the ground falls back again to its centre as soon as that is taken away which hinders it from its natural inclination of falling back; so, no sooner is our soul, which is a spiritual substance and created for God, freed from the impediment of its passions, and from all other things that miserably fasten it to the earth, but it presently raises itself unto God as to its end and centre, and by the assistance of his grace unites itself unto him by charity.

It is important for us to remember, as St Alphonsus pointed out, that being holy and becoming a saint does not consist of being as mortified as we can possibly make ourselves. Neither should we forget that close union with God is not possible with our first becoming detached from those things which hinder our union. For example, wasting time, wanting our own way and not giving way to others when this is of no consequence, damaging our health through over eating and drinking. All of creation is good, because God made it so but we must always try and use it in a way that it leads us to God and not so that the things become ends in themselves e.g. food, do we use food in order to lead a healthy lifestyle and be at our best to serve God or do we over-indulge and make food itself into a little god.
Obviously some attachments are greater than others but St John of the Cross said that whether a bird is tied by a rope or by a small cord it is still unable to fly.
By working with God's grace, through prayer and the practice of the virtues let us strive to purify our hearts of all disordered attachments in order to make space for God, who brings us happiness greater than anythings created can offer us.
"You have put into my heart a greater joy than they have from abundance of corn and new wine" (Psalm 4)


Dove3 said...

You might enjoy

Anonymous said...

"You have put into my heart a greater joy than they have from abundance of corn and new wine"

Maybe off-topic, but heart melts (for want of another phrase) when this comes around in the Breviary.