I look to St. Paul for my
example, for he mortified himself, and said: "I chastise my
body and bring it into subjection, lest perhaps when I have
preached to others I myself may become a castaway". All the
saints until now have done in like manner. Venerable
Rodriquez says that the Blessed Virgin said to St. Elizabeth
of Hungary, that no spiritual grace comes to the soul,
commonly speaking, except by way of prayer and bodily
afflictions. There is an old principle which goes: Woe to
those who are enemies of mortification and of the cross of
In one act of
mortification one can practice many virtues, according to
the different ends which one proposes in each act, as for
1) He who mortifies his body for the
purpose of checking concupiscence, performs an act of the
virtue of temperance.
2) If he does this, purposing thereby to
regulate his life well, it will be an act of the virtue of
3) If he mortifies himself for the
purpose of satisfying for the sins of his past life, it will
be an act of justice.
4) If he does it with the intention of
conquering the difficulties of the spiritual life, it will
be an act of fortitude.
5) If he practices this virtue of
mortification for the end of offering a sacrifice to God,
depriving himself of what he likes, and doing that which is
bitter and repugnant to nature, it will be an act of the
virtue of religion.
6) If he intends by mortification to
receive greater light to know the divine attributes, it will
be an act of faith.
7) If he does it for the purpose of
making his salvation more and more secure, it will be an act
8) If he denies himself in order to help
in the conversion of sinners, and for the release of the
poor souls in purgatory, it will be an act of charity
towards his neighbour.
9) If he does it so as to help the poor,
it will be an act of mercy.
10) If he mortifies himself for the sake
of pleasing God more and more, it will be an act of love
In other words, I shall be able to put
all these virtues into practice in one act of mortification,
according to the end I propose to myself while doing the
said act. Virtue has so much more merit, is more
resplendent, charming and attractive, when accompanied by
Man, who is vile, weak, mean, cowardly,
never makes a sacrifice, and is not even capable of doing
so, for he never resists even one appetite or desire.
Everything that his concupiscence and passions demand, he
concedes, if it is in his power to yield or reject, for he
is base and cowardly, and lets himself be conquered and
completely overcome, just as the braver of two fighters
conquers the cowardly one. So it is with vice and the
vicious - the latter is crushed and the slave of his vices.