Tuesday, March 17, 2009

On Mortification and the Importance of Regular Hospital Visits

Self-Mortification. Are you beginning to sweat yet? A touch of nausea perhaps? No, I'm not talking about self-flagellation methods such as kneeling on marbles or beating yourself with a stick. I won't comment about those practices but I would like to help you focus on how mortification brings you closer to Christ AND what you can do without leaving physical wounds on yourself.

First, you need to understand that this isn't about causing great suffering for yourself because you are just so darn sinfully rotten. It is about setting aside our human tendency to be selfish. For most of us, if we are truly honest with ourselves, we make some very narcissistic decisions throughout the day. For example, when the alarm clock goes off, many of us hit the snooze button. Sometimes many, many times. If we were truly into this whole mortification 'thing', we would simply turn off the alarm and rise. Think of making that doctor appointment you keep putting off or that medical test that is rather unpleasant; saying 'no thanks' to the cheese for our burger that we already know is plenty unhealthy; adding a few extra steps on our walk even though it means passing our destination and turning back again; you kept wanting to attend Mass or adoration during the week but just failed to carve out the time. Our will is much like a muscle which grows very flabby without exercise.

If you can set aside your own will, God's will can be done. Sounds like the makings of a great new life in Christ.


The Importance of Regular Hospital Visits: Yes, we're supposed to visit the sick but what if you are the one who is sick? What if you have an illness that is obviously not going away with over-the-counter medication and treatment? You may not need the Emergency Room but certainly you need some further assistance than what you can get at home. Medical doctors have years of training and some amazing new gadgets to help diagnose most every physical ailment imaginable. The one thing that an M.D. cannot do is lead you to eternal life. This life may be pretty good, but when it ends - it ends.

A church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints. -- L.L. Nash

If you take your child to the ER at the local hospital because he has a broken limb, do you allow the doctor to only pack the arm in cotton and wrap it but forbid the doctor to put on a cast? Of course not. You want that child to receive all of the treatment necessary for full healing of the affected limb.

You may attend Mass according to Church precepts and maybe even attend daily Mass. How often do you go to confession? Perhaps you usually attend Mass on Sundays but think you are generally a good person. How often do you go to confession? Does your soul look like a mirror image of your home? Your basement? Your garage? Under the seats in your car?

So many times I have people tell me that they really don't do anything sinful and that the Church requires we only confess once a year. Imagine only cleaning your floors once a year - even if you are never home and have no pets. Sounds kind of like sloppy housekeeping to me.

Know the difference and requirements for a sin to be mortal or venial. You cannot receive the Eucharist if you are guilty of mortal sin. Though venial sins do not need to be confessed to a priest as they are forgiven through prayer, the use of Sacramentals and receiving the Eucharist, why not do it anyway? I think of it this way: though God has forgiven me of my venial sins already, the thought of them - the clutter of them - lingers in my mind and in my actions. Mother Angelica once used the analogy of venial sin being like drops of water into a cup. One drop adds to more and eventually you have a cup running over. Just like the dust in your home. If you were to let it go for long, the dust would soon be a colony of dust bunnies.

I will post more on confession in an upcoming entry. I'll offer you some tips on preparing for confession, provide links to a good examination of conscience and hopefully inspire you to get rid of some dust bunnies.

God bless you. He loves you so very, very much. As always, your comments are always welcome and appreciated.

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