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  #1  
Old Feb 16, '06, 7:00 pm
katy katy is offline
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Default Opus Dei self-mutilation?

A Protestant friend, as she was leaving a breakfast chat, said she was turned offf by the Da Vinci Code movie, but also by the self-mutilation practiced by Opus Dei members. I'm not sure what she was talking about or how to respond. On the OD website, it states that a few members use something or other, but it is not meant to draw blood or damage oneself. Any suggestions on how to address this to her the next time we meet? I know this will come up again.
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  #2  
Old Feb 16, '06, 7:27 pm
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LilyM LilyM is offline
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Default Re: Opus Dei self-mutilation?

Your friend is probably confusing the word 'mutilation' with 'mortification', which I think is just any sort of punishment inflicted on the flesh (such as fasting etc) - regardless of its severity.

A lot of people, Christians and otherwise, can find some forms of mortification offputting or sinister, especially things like flagellation or the cilice (which is mentioned in the Da Vinci Code). Perhaps this is simply because they are quite unusual in modern times.

Admittedly I've never used either of these two, but many saintly men and women have, and obviously experienced an enhanced relationship with God because of it. After all, plenty of people starve themselves simply to be fashionably thin, and have extremely painful surgery simply to look more attractive.
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  #3  
Old Feb 16, '06, 11:19 pm
Red Meg Red Meg is offline
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Default Re: Opus Dei self-mutilation?

The corporal mortifications of the cilice and discipline as practiced by some members of Opus Dei are definitely not of the self-mutilation variety.

The cilice and discipline definitely cause discomfort, but (and this is one of many things the DVC gets totally wrong!) they don't cause any physical damage. No blood. No scarring. What is depicted in the DVC is simply not the way corporal mortification is practiced in Opus Dei.

I hope this clarifies things a little?

Margaret
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  #4  
Old Feb 16, '06, 11:25 pm
svoboda svoboda is offline
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Default Re: Opus Dei self-mutilation?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Meg
The corporal mortifications of the cilice and discipline as practiced by some members of Opus Dei are definitely not of the self-mutilation variety.

The cilice and discipline definitely cause discomfort, but (and this is one of many things the DVC gets totally wrong!) they don't cause any physical damage. No blood. No scarring. What is depicted in the DVC is simply not the way corporal mortification is practiced in Opus Dei.

I hope this clarifies things a little?

Margaret
I don't understand why it makes things different. There are various torture techniques that don't leave physical damage or scars, but are intended to cause "discomfort."

(For example cold, sleep deprivation, loud music, even that water-boarding thing US military uses).

To me these kinds of things when done wilfully almost seems masochistic, and I don't understand what they have to do with spirituality.
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Old Feb 16, '06, 11:57 pm
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LilyM LilyM is offline
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Default Re: Opus Dei self-mutilation?

Quote:
Originally Posted by svoboda
I don't understand why it makes things different. There are various torture techniques that don't leave physical damage or scars, but are intended to cause "discomfort."

(For example cold, sleep deprivation, loud music, even that water-boarding thing US military uses).

To me these kinds of things when done wilfully almost seems masochistic, and I don't understand what they have to do with spirituality.
Let's be clear - masochism means you get a psychological kick out of inflicting pain on yourself - enjoying the pain for its own sake rather than as a means to another end. And torture is actually SADISM (assuming that the soldiers enjoy torturing the prisoners).

Opus Dei members find that their practices bring them closer to God, as a more extreme version of the small acts of self denial that all Catholics are supposed to practice. For example we fast during Lent and often give up other pleasurable things during this time. This allows us to focus more on our spiritual life and our relationship with God, who after all suffered pain and death for our sake and calls us to 'take up our cross' to be his followers.
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  #6  
Old Feb 17, '06, 12:23 pm
tjmiller tjmiller is offline
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Default Re: Opus Dei self-mutilation?

Saint Paul said to the Corinthians that (in the literal Greek) he beat himself black and blue...
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  #7  
Old Feb 17, '06, 1:24 pm
katy katy is offline
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Default Re: Opus Dei self-mutilation?

I suspect she considered it an example of Catholic masochism and/or dependance on works instead of faith a la Luther.
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  #8  
Old Feb 17, '06, 5:16 pm
Chris Jacobsen Chris Jacobsen is offline
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Default Re: Opus Dei self-mutilation?

People practice mortification for all sorts of reasons. People go without food to make themselves look better. Punish and torture their bodies so they can play professional sports such as hockey and football. Or, they hit the golf ball until their hands are raw, and they still keep hitting the ball, so they can win at professional golf. People get themselves pierced in all kinds of places.

Mortification only becomes suspect when it is done for the love God. When it is done for any other reason, people rarely question it.
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  #9  
Old Feb 17, '06, 8:25 pm
AquinasXVI AquinasXVI is offline
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Default Re: Opus Dei self-mutilation?

Katy:

Recall that Christ told the disciples who couldn't cast out the demons that this sort can only be cast out by prayer and fasting. Fasting is mortification. To feel physical discomfort and offering it to God is a means of obedience to Christ. Of course if done with pride it becomes very perverted. Think about it, if Christ prescribed prayer and fasting to his apostles, this simply means that Christ himself lived a mortified life.

The mortified life is the life that Christ promised to his followers: pick up your cross and follow me. Does this sound like mortification? To me it does. There's no comfort in the cross.

So if mortification is not yet a part of your life, maybe this is a good time to begin...the season of Lent is coming up...perfect timing.

in XT.
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  #10  
Old Feb 17, '06, 10:05 pm
Red Meg Red Meg is offline
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Default Re: Opus Dei self-mutilation?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Jacobsen
People practice mortification for all sorts of reasons. People go without food to make themselves look better. Punish and torture their bodies so they can play professional sports such as hockey and football. Or, they hit the golf ball until their hands are raw, and they still keep hitting the ball, so they can win at professional golf. People get themselves pierced in all kinds of places.

Mortification only becomes suspect when it is done for the love God. When it is done for any other reason, people rarely question it.
Bingo. The example I usually give people is this: there are plenty of women who are very committed to unmedicated childbirth for what I would deem philosophical reasons-- they prefer to work with their own bodies, or they follow a very natural/organic lifestyle and wish to deliver in the same fashion, etc. And that is fine. California is FULL of people like that and nobody looks at them cross-eyed. "I didn't have an epidural because I believe we need to respect woman's natural ability to deliver her baby." "Really? Cool! That's so impressive!"

But suppose I also decide to forgo pain medication during childbirth, not because of my organic lifestyle, but because I want to offer it up in reparation for all the abortions in this country, or to pray that fallen-away family members return to the faith, or on behalf of a friend's very ill child. Suddenly, because it's for God, it's deemed masochistic in some way.

Frankly, I don't think I'm the one with the problem... I think people who really strongly object to voluntarily taking on mortifications haven't quite grasped what AquinasXVI pointed out-- this is about taking up the cross and following Christ. In the spiritual life it is SO easy to get soft on oneself, and start adorning oneself with all kinds of imagined virtues while really slowly sliding into lukewarmness. Mortification helps to make sure we actually "walk the walk" and don't just "talk the talk."

Margaret
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  #11  
Old Feb 17, '06, 10:21 pm
johnben johnben is offline
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Default Re: Opus Dei self-mutilation?

mortification also is for toughening up, similar to how we resist ligitimate pleasures in order to build up a defense for when illigitimate pleasures might otherwise be tempting. If a person acts on every legitmate pleasure in life, when illegitmate pleasures come up, it's a lot harder to resist. if a person is willing to suffer via mortification then they're going to be more willing to do other things for God. It's like ninjas that punch bricks so that their pain capacity goes up.
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  #12  
Old Feb 19, '06, 5:47 pm
katy katy is offline
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Default Re: Opus Dei self-mutilation?

I think I have some potentially enlightening infor here. We'll see how it goes when we get together again in a couple of weeks and I mention I've done some research on the subject. And they are not mutilating themselves, Right?
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  #13  
Old Feb 20, '06, 9:47 am
Red Meg Red Meg is offline
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Default Re: Opus Dei self-mutilation?

Quote:
And they are not mutilating themselves, Right?
Right, Katy. That would violate the Fifth Commandment. No mutilation.
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  #14  
Old Feb 22, '06, 8:31 pm
LukeQ LukeQ is offline
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Default Re: Opus Dei self-mutilation?

What view do Opus Dei Numeries and Priests have towards other Catholic religious and Priests who do not use these divices or any other divices designed for mortification?

Luke
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  #15  
Old Feb 22, '06, 9:22 pm
Red Meg Red Meg is offline
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Default Re: Opus Dei self-mutilation?

They don't really have "a view" on it. Every order and organization has its own unique charism, spirituality and practice. Corporal mortification is a practice among some groups (I believe Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charities use it too), but certainly not all.

As long as each group is being faithful to its own nature and foundational charism, what's the problem? It's sort of like asking how religious orders view lay groups like Opus Dei that don't recite the Liturgy of the Hours... It's just not at issue.

Margaret
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