Month of Mary – May Devotions – Day 8 – the Mortification of Mary!
St. Paul writes: “if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death [mortify] the deeds of the body you will live” (Romans 8:13). Mortification is one of the core principle of spirituality and the spiritual life. It reflects in fasting, abstinence, sacrifices, penance, and joy in suffering. St. Louis-Marie de Montfort’s prayer to Mary reveals the spirit of mortification: “to suffer joyfully without human consolation; to die continually to myself without respite.” Mortification is simply a spiritual form of discipline meant to put the body’s passions under check and control in order to assist the soul and the spirit to blossom in eternal values and realities. This is not to say the body is bad. Far from it but rather mortification creates a balance or moderation in the way we satisfy the needs of the body, mind, soul and spirit. In our psycho-spiritual understanding, the body, the mind and the soul complement each other. However, sometimes we are tempted to either over indulged in giving too much time and satisfaction to the one dimension of our being as against the other. In another sense, sometimes we do not satisfy the needs of the body let alone the soul and we get frustrated and fixated. Both cases are against mortification. Therefore, mortification calls for moderation and consciousness in satisfying our needs. In our modern times, this spiritual practice and discipline is near extinction or has been brushed aside completely. Hence, the difficult or impossibility in controlling our bodily appetites, passions and weaknesses. This has also resulted in weak will-power, materialism, secularism and inability to flourish in the life in the Spirit. Note, mortification is not about being cruel to your body but a discipline to liberate the body and the entire human person from enslavement to sin and its numerous vices. The core of mortification is the willingness to lay down one’s life and will at every moment. Listen to the language of mortification from the Master of the spiritual life: “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me (Matt. 16:24). Moreover, mortification is necessary because it repairs the damages caused by sin, it makes a soul to resemble the crucified Lord, it helps us to master our impulses, and it increases our will-power, and gives us the power over evil spirits. Unfortunately, many do acts of mortification not as a way of life but when seeking for favours from God as if there is anywhere God had instructed or given conditions that would warrant that the acts of mortification must be done before one is blessed by God. There are reported cases of extortion of money, cheating and duping of innocent people seeking divine favours in the hands of many religious leaders because of the wrong application of the principle of mortification. Be careful!
Our Lady’s mortification is universal. Meaning, she applied mortification interiorly and exteriorly throughout her life and she was never selective or picking and choosing her life experiences that presented the occasions of self-denial and sacrifice. For instance, what she could not understand, instead of groaning and complaining, she interiorly mortified prayerfully by contemplation: “… she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). The case is the same with her encounter with Simeon who “blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘Look, he is destined for the fall and for the rise of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is opposed-and a sword will pierce your soul too — so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare” (Luke 2:34-35). She mortified by applying the principle of joy of suffering without complaining. She exteriorly manifested her mortification as she accompanied her Son through His passion to Calvary and stood under the cross without expiring (John 19:25). In doing so, she saw the Word of God that was foretold in the Old Testament in the wounds of her son and she remained thankful for you and me. Thank you Mother Mary!
Prayer: Most Holy Mother Mary, I sincerely desire to imitate your virtue of universal mortification. I am aware that with mortification, I can check and control my emotions especially anger, jealousy and envy. I equally desire to heighten the discipline of mortification not only of the flesh but also of the senses, the mind, imagination and will. If I am mortified, I believe that I will give more attention to meet up the needs of others. Therefore, inspire in me a desire to put others’ comfort before my own, at least sometimes. Mother, I also need to be configured to the image of the Crucified Christ and this can become a reality as I rejoice in suffering and finding meaning from difficult situations in my life instead of complaining about them and losing graces. Mother, you are aware of the persecution we are passing through especially from the enemies of our faith; give us the grace to channel all these experiences to your Son prayerfully and crown our efforts and battles with huge fruitfulness and liberations, through Christ our Lord. Amen. Mother of divine grace – Pray for us!