Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. James Farfaglia

3/12/2012 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

If we want to save our souls, an intense, dramatic struggle is necessary. We need to take up the whip and continually force out of our temple anything that keeps us from getting to Heaven

Due to the effects of Original Sin and our own personal sins that are committed after Baptism, our temples are filled with many things that are not of God.  Lent provides us an excellent opportunity to take up a whip and chase out of our souls anything and everything that does not belong there.  The practice of mortification is the way to rid our souls of sins and attachments that keep God from fully possessing our lives.

Highlights

By Fr. James Farfaglia

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/12/2012 (3 years ago)

Published in Lent / Easter

Keywords: Sunday homily, Lent, Catholic spirituality, mortification, spiritual progress, Father James Farfaglia, Get Serious


CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - "Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.  He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money changers seated there.  He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, 'Take these out of here, and stop making my Father's house a marketplace'" (John 2: 13-16).

The Sacrament of Baptism has made us temples of the Holy Spirit.  Baptism washes away Original Sin, but we are left with the effects of Original Sin.  Our intellect is darkened, our will is weakened and our passions are inflamed.  St. Paul famously describes the inner struggle in chapter 7 of his letter to the Romans.  He describes this struggle in dramatic terms.  He states that he cannot understand his own behavior, and that he finds himself doing the very things that he hates (see Romans 7: 14-25).

Due to the effects of Original Sin and our own personal sins that are committed after Baptism, our temples are filled with many things that are not of God.  Lent provides us an excellent opportunity to take up a whip and chase out of our souls anything and everything that does not belong there.  The practice of mortification is the way to rid our souls of sins and attachments that keep God from fully possessing our lives. 

Saint Paul's letters are so practical.  Regarding mortification he tells us, again from Romans: "So then there is no necessity for us to obey our unspiritual selves or to live unspiritual lives.  If you do live in that way, you are doomed to die; but if by the Spirit you put an end to the misdeeds of the body you will live" (Romans 8: 12-13).

In his letter to the Colossians the theme is repeated with these words: "That is why you must kill everything in you that belongs only to earthly life: fornication, impurity, guilty passion, evil desires and especially greed, which is the same thing as worshipping a false god." (Colossians 3: 5). 

Finally, in his letter to the Galatians he writes emphatically: "You cannot belong to Christ Jesus unless you crucify all self-indulgent passions and desires" (Galatians 5:24).

The practice of continual mortification is an essential part of our walk with the Lord.  Without the use of daily mortification, we will not be able to resist the onslaught of our sinful human nature, the temptations caused by Satan and the allurements of the world.  Not only are we to fight against sin, be it mortal sin or venial sin, but we must also get to the root of our sins and remove the inordinate affections that cause us to sin in a certain way.

However, to avoid sin is not enough.  We must grow in holiness.  The practice of mortification must be daily and life long.  The battle never ends until we are dead.  The practice of mortification demands a conscious and willful renewal every day of our lives.  The struggle may be more or less intense during the different stages of our life journey.  Although we may have to deal with different issues, the struggle will always be present.  If we want to save our souls, an intense, dramatic struggle is necessary.  We need to take up the whip and continually force out of our temple anything that keeps us from getting to Heaven. 

Let us consider briefly some of our most common struggles and the mortification that needs to take place in order that Jesus may take full possession of our temple. 

Pride is at the top of the list of the Seven Deadly Sins.  Pride is an ugly sin and it must be dealt with seriously and energetically.  This sin will be uprooted by replacing it with the virtue of humility.  Repeated concrete acts of humility will continue to hammer away at this sin.   The Litany of Humility provides an excellent program for anyone who struggles with this vice (see http://www.rc.net/wcc/humility.htm). 

Greed is another sin that causes many problems.  Excellent acts of mortification include establishing a budget, practice the Biblical teaching of tithing, give generously to charity, eliminate your debt, limit the use of credit cards, live within your means and be content with what you already have. 

Gluttony is a very addictive sin.  If we can control our eating habits and our spending habits, we will then have a greater ability to live the virtue of chastity.  Gluttony needs to be mortified by a strict spirit of self-control.  It is said that Blessed Pope John XXIII struggled with this sin.  He had a life long battle with his weight.  One day he was seen crying as he was eating a huge bowl of ice-cream.  Acts of mortification include not snacking between meals, eating smaller portions, eating healthy foods, saving deserts for Sundays and special feast days, and exercising moderation in the use of alcoholic beverages.
 
Laziness or sloth is also a very controlling sin.  The lazy person is not so much concerned about the bad that he does, but the good that is left undone.  The lazy person has to form and strengthen the will.  Getting up on time in the morning, making your bed, cleaning your room, doing your duty with perfection, using your time well, regular physical exercise and personal discipline are very important acts of mortification that will successfully uproot the sin of laziness and replace it with the virtue of diligence. 

 Lust is another big struggle, if not the biggest for most people.  Of all of the sins that have been mentioned thus far, this one is the most addictive.  Lust must be dealt with severely.  This is something that we cannot fool around with.

The best weapon against lust is to run away from the occasions of sin. 

When we accept our weakness, we will not put ourselves into dangerous situations.

If the cable is a problem, then get rid of it.  If the Internet is a problem, then do not have it home, use it at work only.  Living a moral life, modesty in dress, control of our eyes, avoiding sensual movies and television programs, and staying away from dangerous situations are some of the things that we can do to replace lust with the virtue of chastity. 

Finally, anger is another sin that most people struggle with.  Anger must be replaced with the virtue of charity.  Never deal with situations such as disciplining children when you are angry.  Exercise mortification by walking away from a difficult situation and deal with it latter when you are serene. 

Walking around the neighborhood for a few minutes can be very beneficial when you are ready to explode.  Physical exercise is also a good remedy for anger.  After work, it is a good habit to work out at the local gym or go for a run.  You can blow off a lot of steam and stress, and then enter your house calm and refreshed. 

Of course, all of these acts of mortification that I have mentioned presuppose a mature spiritual life.  Self-knowledge, a serious battle plan, and the regular use of the Sacrament of Confession are also indispensable tools for spiritual growth and development.

Remember, the goal of our spiritual life is to become a new person in Christ.  It is not enough just to be a "good person" or to be "nice."  We are called to be saints.  My new book Get Serious! - A Survival Guide for Serious Catholics provides an easy to understand practical guide how to develop and live a serious spiritual life and a deeper relationship with God.  It is a perfect manual for anyone that wants to progress in the spiritual life. 

The continual struggle with ourselves can be exhausting at times.  We can even become discouraged when we struggle over long periods of time with the same sin.  Discouragement must be met with Christian hope.  There maybe something that we will struggle with for the rest of our lives.  We may chase the thing out of our temple, but it keeps on trying to get back in.  It may continually pound on the door, look for an open window, or even a crack in the foundation. If a dominant fault does not go away, it must be surrounded with heroic virtue. 

Saint Paul was given an answer that he was not looking for when he complained to the Lord about his "thorn in the flesh."  "My grace is enough for you: my power is at is best in weakness" (II Corinthians 12: 9). 

Let us then take up a whip and chase out of our soul whatever maybe an obstacle to our relationship with Jesus Christ.  Mortification is an act of the will.  Mortification cannot be based on wishful thinking.  We have to really die to ourselves in order for Jesus to live in our temple.  Dying to sin, attachments, addictions, obsessions and selfish tendencies will be a painful and even dramatic experience. 

But, too many people today are looking for an easy Christianity.    We need to look upon the crucifix and understand once again that the only Jesus that there is, is the Crucified Jesus. 

----- 

Father James Farfaglia is the Pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Corpus Christi, TX.  Check out Father's updated website to learn more about his books, homilies and audio podcasts.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for February 2016
Universal:
That prisoners, especially the young, may be able to rebuild lives of dignity.
Evangelization: That married people who are separated may find welcome and support in the Christian community.



Comments


More Lent / Easter

Can you answer these four challenging questions about Lent?

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Take our Lent quiz! See how much you know about the tradition of Lent! Take our Lent quiz, then challenge your friends. See how much you know about this special season in the Liturgical year. The quiz has just a few questions, but will certainly provide a quick ... continue reading


The Way of the Cross continues on Watch

Image of

By Tony Magliano

In his strong identification with the poor and vulnerable, Jesus makes it perfectly clear that when we meet the needs of these least brothers and sisters, we are ultimately serving him. And when we - as individuals, churches, states and nations - do not adequately meet ... continue reading


Take this thought provoking Stations of the Cross survey

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

How familiar are you with the Stations of the Cross? Take the Catholic Online survey now to share your answers to our questions. Your responses will help us serve you better by tailoring content that suits your needs. The survey is short and should take just 1 minute ... continue reading


'God hasn't forsaken me': Church of England to release short films addressing serious topics for Lent and Easter Watch

Image of The Church of England plans to launch a JustPray campaign throughout Lent, with its final video released on Easter Sunday (Shutterstock).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The Church of England is set to launch its latest campaign called the "Psalm 22 project," which will feature stories of former homeless and ex drug addicts who tackled some of life's most difficult trials. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Psalm 22 refers to the ... continue reading


10 important things to consider during Lent Watch

Image of What are our options during Lent? (Shutterstock)

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Every year we give something up for Lent. Sometimes picking what to give up is hard and other times we consider doing something extra to really immerse ourselves in what God has for us - but what are our options? LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Lent isn't just ... continue reading


5 little-known facts about Lent you need to learn this Ash Wednesday Watch

Image of Lent is more than just fasting (Rhoy Cobilla, InterAksyon.com).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Everyone knows that Mardi Gras kicks off the upcoming 40-day Lent, which honors the time Jesus fasted in the wilderness, but did you know there is more to it? LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Recently the Independent released their list of "5 things you might not ... continue reading


Ash Wednesday: 'Seek To Experience God's Presence Within' Watch

Image of

By F. K. Bartels

"You may ask me: 'But, does God exist? And if he exists does he really concern himself with us? Can we reach him?' It is, indeed, true that we cannot place God on the table, we cannot touch him or pick him up like an ordinary object. We must rediscover our capacity to ... continue reading


POPE'S MASS: Ash Wednesday (FULL TEXT: English) Watch

Image of

By Pope Francis, Libreria Editrice Vaticana

The unofficial English translation to Pope Francis' prepared homily for the 2016 Ash Wednesday Mass: The Word of God, the beginning of the Lenten journey, addressed to the Church and to each of us invitations.The first is that of St. Paul: " Be reconciled to God " ( ... continue reading


Pope Francis' special Ash Wednesday message for 'Keep Lent' initiative Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Pope Francis sent out his first audio message for "Keep Lent" over social media. 'Keep Lent' is an initiative of the Prelature of the Pontifical Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii's youth ministry office. According to the Vatican Radio, "The initiative begins on Ash ... continue reading


Fat Tuesday - Mardi Gras Meant to Be More than a Party Watch

Image of Some have tried to argue that this term meant that people should discard their moral faith commitments and for the night and just

By Fr. Randy Sly

One could call this celebration the last gasp of Ordinary time as the Church anticipates the penitential Season of the forty days of Lent. Rich foods are consumed as pilgrims prepare for times of fasting, abstinence, confession and penance. Ironically, carnival ... continue reading


All Lent / Easter News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 58:9-14
9 Then you will cry for help and Yahweh will answer; you will call and he ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 86:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 [Prayer Of David] Listen to me, Yahweh, answer me, for I am poor and ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 5:27-32
27 When he went out after this, he noticed a tax collector, Levi by name, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 13th, 2016 Image

St. Catherine de Ricci
February 13: St. Catherine was born in Florence in 1522. Her ... Read More