Try to die to yourself and live 100 percent completely for Christ. I pray but haven’t gotten there quite yet. I think I’m a control freak. I know God is in control and not me but living out what I know is tough. Also what does carry your own coss mean? Being joyful during suffering in order to be closer to Christ because his good news is way greater than our trivial despairs? Thanks in advance
In Mark 12:30–31, Jesus tells us to
30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength
31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.”
It is in living the commands of love that Jesus gave us. If we do not realize this we can fall into the trap of thinking that dying to self or carrying our cross is just an internal, self-centric, pious thing we do without reference to other people in our lives to whom we own practical love.
We are aware that we need to pray and to go to Mass and receive the Sacraments. This sometimes requires sacrifice as we don’t always feel like it, and sometimes those are inconvenient.
Nevertheless to pray regardless, to go to Confession and Mass regardless, with the sacrifice that doing so sometimes requires, is dying to self and carrying your cross.
Just as being pleasant, kind, and helpful, and living practical acts of kindness, can also require 'dying to self, and carrying your cross.
We sometimes don’t feel like doing things for others, or being thoughtful or pleasant in small ways or large, but to do so anyway is to die to self and to carry your cross.
In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus further emphasizes this when He describes how He judges our souls at death. Jesus says
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Dying to self is a life long process. Each time we give it over to God, we will, hopefully and prayerfully, give a bit more. Some seem to have an easier job of this than others do. I also struggle with this. But I try to remind myself each day that this is a new day to try again, and God is always faithful to his promises.
Dying to self is, like a previous poster said, a long process, even life long. Pray the Morning Offering. I find that this is a good way to begin my day: placing everything within God’s hands and offering to Him (in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass) all of my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings.
Carrying our cross means bearing sufferings and wrongs patiently for the love of God. If you frequently pray little aspirations of love throughout the day it will help you to carry your cross well. Such aspirations include;
“Jesus, have mercy!”
“Jesus and Mary, I love you. Save souls!”
“My God, my God, I love Thee in the most Blessed Sacrament!”
“Jesus, I love you with my whole heart!”
There are many more that you can find. God bless you on your spiritual journey!
It is impossible to be 100% completely for Christ this side of heaven. But you’re in good company; even St. Paul had problems living the way he wanted to.
From Romans 7:
- We are well aware that the Law is spiritual: but I am a creature of flesh and blood sold as a slave to sin.
15 I do not understand my own behaviour; I do not act as I mean to, but I do things that I hate.
16 While I am acting as I do not want to, I still acknowledge the Law as good,
17 so it is not myself acting, but the sin which lives in me.
18 And really, I know of nothing good living in me – in my natural self, that is – for though the will to do what is good is in me, the power to do it is not:
19 the good thing I want to do, I never do; the evil thing which I do not want – that is what I do.
Dying to self means ridding the ego.
The ego is strengthened by our dwelling on the past or contemplating the future. It tries to rectify the self-serving mistakes of the past, or enjoys the kudos we received by presenting a false image to others, which impressed them. It also looks to the future on how to build on this.
The best way to weaken the ego, is to learn to live in the present. God is in the now, for he is timeless.
So, be in the presence of God by trying to me in the now.
Of course prayer is the answer to all of this. When we pray, we’re not praying to the future, or the past, but to God who dwells within you, and is present at the moment, in the now.
Dying to self is a huge order. Trying to do God’s will, to desire God’s will, can be a large spiritual task.
On a personal note, I have spent a large part of the last year reading John of the Cross and others on this very subject. Although the subject matter is worth pursuing and implementing, one must be careful. It has left me frustrated. It has not led me to be more charitable with others, which should be the fruit of the spiritual life. Although it contains much that is good and true, this particular branch of spiritual discipline is not helping me in my vocation as a father, business man, parish ministry. It has led me to grasp after things I am not ready for, and may never be, as I am not a cloistered religious.
I have plenty of small tasks in front of me everyday that provide an opportunity to sacrifice. Number one on my plate is to start being kind and understanding with people, and quit worrying about the height of my interior spiritual life. My number one task is to smile more and just listen to people without worrying about whether I have the “correct” spiritual point of view. If I can start with this simple thing maybe I can come to a higher spiritual knowledge some day, but I am not going to go off looking for it.
I like Francis De Sales take on this issue, to concern myself with the small things God gives me, and not “raise my head in curiosity” (St Bernard).
One day at a time, one small task at a time. The world will provide you plenty of opportunities for martyrdom.
Great replies all. I appreciate it. This forum is awesome
Here are some words from Pope Francis that made me think of your question and the questions I myself wrestle with, in dealing with some of the “large” issues of the spiritual life.
Today we consider one of the marvellous things which the Lord has done: Mary! A lowly and weak creature like ourselves, she was chosen to be the Mother of God, the Mother of her Creator.
Considering Mary in the light of the readings we have just heard, I would like to reflect with you on three things: first, God surprises us,
- First: God surprises us. The story of Naaman, the commander of the army of the king of Aram, is remarkable. In order to be healed of leprosy, he turns to the prophet of God, Elisha, who does not perform magic or demand anything unusual of him, but asks him simply to trust in God and to wash in the waters of the river. Not, however, in one of the great rivers of Damascus, but in the little stream of the Jordan. Naaman is left surprised, even taken aback. What kind of God is this who asks for something so simple? He wants to turn back, but then he goes ahead, he immerses himself in the Jordan and is immediately healed (cf. 2 Kg 5:1-4). There it is: God surprises us. It is precisely in poverty, in weakness and in humility that he reveals himself and grants us his love, which saves us, heals us and gives us strength. He asks us only to obey his word and to trust in him.
This was the experience of the Virgin Mary. At the message of the angel, she does not hide her surprise. It is the astonishment of realizing that God, to become man, had chosen her, a simple maid of Nazareth. Not someone who lived in a palace amid power and riches, or one who had done extraordinary things, but simply someone who was open to God and put her trust in him, even without understanding everything: “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). That was her answer. God constantly surprises us, he bursts our categories, he wreaks havoc with our plans. And he tells us: Trust me, do not be afraid, let yourself be surprised, leave yourself behind and follow me!
Today let us all ask ourselves whether we are afraid of what God might ask, or of what he does ask. Do I let myself be surprised by God, as Mary was, or do I remain caught up in my own safety zone: in forms of material, intellectual or ideological security (that’s me), taking refuge in my own projects and plans? Do I truly let God into my life? How do I answer him?
A good book in this area is Ralph Martin’s “The Fulfillment of All Desire”. Really an excellent book on the spirituality of several saints.
Mr Martin has one piece of advice on developing a desire to do God’s will, and that is to ask God for it and trust. In other words the desire for God’s will can’t be learned or willed.
Are we prepared to know God’s will? Think of how knowing and desiring God’s will would change your life. I am not ready for it yet. It has to be taken in small steps. First is to recognize that I am human and have many faults, and that there is a distance between God, and me, that has to be traveled. He is always with me, but is also love that I cannot comprehend. So I need to be kind to the next person I meet and go from there.
Again-very good replies. I will pray about these ideas and in the end.
, be patient
I’m going to order Ralph Martins book Sounds like a great read