Exercise as a Form of Asceticism

Exercise is painful; thus, exercise brings about suffering. Suffering is very beneficial for us as we can offer it up as prayer or penance.

I personally find that exercise is a wonderful form of self flagelation, and thus, is a wonderful way to pray/do penance.

Anyone else do this?

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I don´t want to flagelate myself, but I like the mental effect of sport, too. It helps to clear the mind and regain mental and spiritual strength for me.


The church has pretty much disallowed the use of self-flagellation unless under the care of a spiritual director. As far as we know, you’ve only had a spiritual director for a month? Maybe? It seems a bit soon to get into that sort of thing.

Fasting and encouraging and strengthing the body and other forms of self-mortification are part of a healthy spiritual life but I think you’re taking it a bit too far.

If it’s good enough for the Saints it’s good enough for me. :man_shrugging:


You mean self-flagellation as a metaphor for bodily mortification, not actual whipping, right?

The saints were often under direct spiritual direction when it came to matters like these. Very few, if any, did it completely unguided…at the very least they had a regular confessor to run things by.

More accurately, what you are describing is self mortification. In other words, you keep your fleshly desires in check by performing acts of mortification. This is a healthy and essential aspect of the spiritual life. Even so, I agree that spiritual direction is also essential so that you don’t “over do” anything. You don’t need spiritual direction for every kind of mortification. For example, you don’t need a director to tell you it was OK to forego eating a piece of chocolate as an act of mortification. However, when it comes to “larger” acts of mortification like what you are describing, you should be consulting with your spiritual director.


Don´t compare yourself like this. For example seeking martyrdom is something different than being a martyr at the end, the frist would be a sin against the gift of life.

I think you should e careful not to develop fundamentalistic out of enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is fine, but there is nothing wrong with being relaxed and catholic:smirk:

Many saints were under the watchful eye of thier spiritual directors when they performed mortification. Some were directed not to.

Excersize is a wonderful way to practice mortification for some, but not all. Speak with your MD too before emarking in any rigorous program if you desire this.

God bless you

Keep in mind that the saints lived in a culture and level of understanding much different that ours.

Not wrong, but there was no idea about a thing called “the ego,” and the power of witchcraft was believed in as much as the power of God.

Exercise can be a way of offering yourself up, especially when you don’t feel like exercising, but offer it up and do it as a means of self-mortification.

In fact, that’s what I did this morning when I did my yoga exercise. I didn’t feel like doing it, but offered it up.


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