o Distinction between mortification and pennance: the spiritual intention or motive of the action:
- Mortification: self-denial, abnegation, self-renunciation, dying to self. To 'punish' or discipline my body, to bring it under control, to deny satisfaction of a normal and healthy desire in order to grow in spiritual maturity, to learn more about governing the self-seeking tendancies of this fallen body. Spiritual training and tempering of the will to control passions and instincts.
- Penance: penitence, sacrifice or self-sacrifice, and “reparation”. To 'make up in my own body what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ' (Col 1:24). Paying for or atoning for a disobedience. Way to tell God we are sorry for our sins, or for the sins of others, or for Original Sin, and to make up for them. Not for personal development, but personal sorrow.
o Features of mortification or penance in advancing God's Kingdom in earth:
- Must be unified with Christ, living life of grace so that I share in Jesus' merits. I cannot save myself, or grow in holiness, by myself. "Apart from me, you can do nothing" (Joh 15:5).
- Sacrifice must include elements of intercession and petition. Offering a sacrifice or act of self-denial can intensify a prayer of intercession, especially for sinners and others in grave need of intercession.
- Since the difference is the intention, the same act may serve as either mortification or penance, or as both.
o See more regarding mortification at StMargaretMary.
o Some thoughts:
- St. Louis de Montfort wrote: "If we would possess Wisdom we must mortify the body not only by enduring patiently our bodily ailments, the inconveniences of the weather and the difficulties arising from other people's actions, but also by deliberately undertaking some penances and mortification such as fasts, vigils and other austerities practiced by holy penitents." He also wrote that we must "fulfill the duties of our stations in life".
- We need to bring our wills daily into submission to the law of love, to Christ, by performing various acts of penance and mortification -- within the limitations of our state in life.
- De Montfort: We must totally renounce ourselves and totally cling to God. It is in God alone that we find our neighbor, especially the poor and brokenhearted.
- One of the first sacrifices and crosses we take up is to be obedient to Our Lord's commandments and to His Church through Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium - which is contrary to human nature. Our nature demands self-determnation; Jesus demands that we take up our Crosses and follow Him.
- Paul said that "'Everything is permissible for me' -- but not everything is beneficial. 'Everything is permissible for me'-- but I will not be mastered by anything" (1 Cor 6:12).
- Mortification (and penance) is thus a means of curing bad habits and implanting good ones, It draws us closer to God by depending on divine Grace so that it might plead powerfully with God.