I’ve been reading a book on the life of St Gerald Majella, a very interesting and major saint. Among his many saintly attributes is the practice of self disipline, or self mortification, sometimes or often times taken to extremes.
It was done (and probably still is done) by many orders of priests or brothers.
What may seem like fanacism or insanity to us, is of course quite ordinary and normal to God.
The point to which Brother Gerald and probably many other similar saints would be appalling to many who are not familiar with this practice. It has been the subject of much ridicule by the popular media, and even to many devout Catholics may seem to be excessive or radical.
I must say that St. Gerald is by far one of the holiest and exceptional saints that I have ever read or head about. It is said that he not only never committed a mortal sin, but he quite possibly may have never even committed a venial sin.
The many miracles and extraordinary gifts that he posessed is quite incredible. Not only is his name associated with literally hundreds of miracles, but he exhibited gifts that far surpassed any mystic.
By todays standards he would have been considered the ultimate nerd or wimp, but by any measure of sainthood he would be among the highest. In his childhood he was literally the playmate of the infant Jesus. Later on, theologians would have considered him Christ’s friend and confidante. He had knowledge about the Holy Trinity that some would say could only come from Our Lord Himself, even though he never
Part of his Redemptorist routine was to have daily “discplines” with “discipline to blood” every 8th day. During Lent it would be even worse. On several occasions he begged other to flog him until he was bleeding from all sides.
A modern day doctor would say he was a completely crazy fool. But he was voluntarily a fool for God.
He ate but very little food, and what little he ate he seasoned with bitter herbs. Other clergy found his food to be totally inedible. He would go for days with almost nothing but a little bread or water, and some days he would skip that as well.
To say he was more of the next world than of this one would have been more true than not. Among his other gifts/wonders, he would elevate to about 3 feet while praying, on a couple of occasion he went up into the air about 3/4 of a mile.
Like Padre Pio, he could bi-locate, he could become invisible when he did not want to be disturbed, he would instantly know what his superiors wanted even if they were miles away. His superior could summon him merely by asking for him even though he could be in another town.
He slept on a bed of stones and thorns. His superiors had to order him to sleep on a normal bed. St Gerald took loving God to the utmost extreme, there was nothing too hard or too harse that he would not endure. On Good Friodays, he would displine himself with metal spikes.
He raised the dead on many occasions, he healed the sick or dying, he could read folks souls and state of sin as Padre Pio could, he could see into Heaven, Purgatory or Hell. He could tell where and when folks entered into each. (like Santa, he knew when folks were naughty or nice) He knew when folks had made a good confession or not and he could list what sins folks left out even if they themselves forgot it.
In feeding the poor he duplicated Christ’s feat of multplying food many times over. Small amounts if food would last indefinitely, shelves would replenish themselves. Small loaves of bread would magically appear from nowhere.
On a couple of occasions he was almost beaten to death, but instead of crying for help, he invited more suffering. One assailant finally realized that he was about to kill a saint, and put Gerald back onto his horse and accompanied him home. There Brother Gerald merely said he had fallen from his animal.
I believe there are still some orders who advocate self disciple. What do you think of this and could you see yourself ever doing such things ???