Thoughts on physical self-mortification


This is open to everyone. I wanted to get some opinions, seeing as many evangelicals talk about this “abominable” practice.


i would be up to it…add your self discipline to the Lord’s discipline…the way i look at it is God allowed His only Son to recieve extreme torture and death…a little discomfort on our part isn’t too much i would say.i am not talking about wounding ourselves or fasting to the point of death,rather little things going without food for a day and such…


I have wanted to ask this but am now just getting around to it: I am on the poverty line (no not whining) so I don’t always get a full three meals in. Being slightly undernourished makes fasting moot. I need to eat when I can. Anything equal to fasting I can do for God?


I;m also talking about stuff like the belts some people wear, with spiked insids. stuff like that.


as long as the spikes don’t penertrate the flesh sounds ok to me…hey i have a deep hate for the sin i have committed in my flesh.


you are thankful for what you have and are content with your lot?anything above that on your part can only increase God’s grace within you and maybe perhaps even help sinners like me gain in God’s love.


Personally speaking I don’t see the point of it. I think Christ would rather I take time out to pray then hit myself with something as penance.

Once I did penance of praying the Rosary for two hours and that actually physically hurt me, my chest was very sore afterwards.

If I sin I pray and ask for forgiveness and depending on the type of sin depends on whether I confess that particular sin asap.

Maybe some people feel that they are suffering for Christ when they do part take in this practice, but guilt can be painful enough and I’d rather pray, seek forgiveness and go to Reconciliation.

I’ve read of people hitting themselves with whips and chains and honestly I can’t find any reason that would make me feel that is something Christ would want them to do. Christ forgives so we should be kind to ourselves and seek forgiveness and reconcilation through a better means. However I am not that ofay with the different ways people express physical self-mortification.
Maybe some people feel they aren’t disciplined enough with falling into temptation and this practice assists them. But when I first went back to Confession, that hurt pretty bad, so I didn’t feel the need to whip myself into anymore pain then I was already feeling at the time.

What examples of physical self-mortification were you thinking of when you started the thread?


In our society today, we fit ourselves into the latest fashionable uncomfortable shoes, wax & pluck the hair off our bodies, undertake grueling and gruesome acts of elective surgery, plop our bodies onto uncomfortable pieces of machinery in the effort of exercise, tatoo and pierce ourselves, so many acts of physical mortification.

But if physical mortification is done in the name of the Lord, it’s “abominable”. :shrug:


My thoughts on physical self mortification.

Im in my 20s, a revert, and until just a couple of months ago I didnt really understand physical mortification. For example when the Da Vinci Code came out depicting the extreme self mortification of whipping I didnt understand why anyone would do that. I was aware of the concept of offering things up though and had heard of Our Lady of Fatima asking the childing to pray and make reparations for sinners. Recently though my outlook changed and I suddenly, one day in prayer, deeply felt the call to offer up physical sufferings for any way God wants to use them, for conversion of sinners, for my own family in particular, in reparation of my sins and for the sins of others, and so on. Now I often wear a rubber band on my wrist that is irritating but not extremely so and I offer that up. By doing so I can start to grasp the reasons behind why some people, with the guidance of a spiritual director, may do things like whip themselves. They arent doing it for themselves they are doing it for others.

My small mortification is the result of a groundwork of things such as weekly mass, confession every month or two, a year of almost daily praying of the chaplet of Divine Mercy, and months of almost daily praying of the rosary, making a consecration to Our Lady, as well as plenty of learning about my own faith.


Yes, and those things are also abominable to some degree or another.


Yes but your flesh in and of itself is good - it was created by God so. Why punish the flesh when the flesh was merely the vehicle for the sinful soul within?

Sounds a bit like hitting your car to punish it because YOU drove it through a red light. :shrug:


the classical Catholic spiritual advice is that no one may undertake such physical mortification beyond the commonly prescribed practices for the church such as the normal Lenten fast and abstinence w/o the permission of one’s confessor or spiritual director. Even then it would be permitted for a limited time, in a manner that does not cause permanent damage to health and well-being, and for a specific spiritual benefit, i.e. to help combat temptation. and it would only be permitted for someone in good physical and psychological health.

think about it, even a secular counsellor or physician or coach will recommend practices that discipline the body in order to achieve a higher good–breaking a bad habit, establishing a good habit, improving a skill. I can diet on the advice of a doctor to lose weight, or I can fast from some foods, or in my quantity of food, for a period of time for spiritual purposes. Underlying all the spiritual purposes are identification with Christ’s suffering in order to attain greater appreciation for his gift to us.


but my soul is born again it is not the same as it was when i was born…not my fault if the throttle was stuck


Absolutely. But to most people it is an acceptable sacrifice, even to those who do these things themselves while looking upon the Catholic practice as abominable.


I think that God gives us plenty of things to mortify us every day. It is no good running from a hardship which it is our duty to go through and then opting for a self-imposed penance. Such penances can fuel pride if they make us feel better than those who do not perform them. I think the general advice is to discuss any extra mortifications you want to impose upon yourself with a spritual director and follow his guidance. I just offer up my daily sufferings for the world in union with Christ. I did once wear a hair-shirt during a time of temptation and it gave me a real spiritual high, which is itself a bit of a negative sign. I also gave my possession away with similar results, and was advised against it by my director :slight_smile:


Have you ever read a book called “Holy Souls”. It’s about Padre Pio and his connection to the souls in purgatory. It is a very good book about our connections with the Holy Souls of Purgatory.

To sum it up, any suffering we go through can be offered up to help temporarily relieve the suffering of our loved ones in purgatory.

The example of the children at Fatima also comes to mind. They decided to start wearing those scratchy ropes around their waistline to help lost souls.

Our suffering joins us to Christ on the cross.

Padre Pio prayed and asked his bishop if it was alright if he prayed to Jesus to ask Jesus to give him the sufferings of the souls in purgatory a hundred times more, to alleviate their sufferings.

He was blessed with the Stigmata, possibly a form of mortification from Jesus. (only possibly - I haven’t thought through the theology of this one, that much).

At any rate, I would think that mortification to help poor souls in puragatory is good, not bad.

To sum it up, I think you have to have a concept of purgatory to understand mortification. Without it, it doesn’t make alot of sense.


quoting Chipper"I think you have to have a concept of purgatory to understand mortification.Without it,doesn’t make a lot of sense." i agree with that.Also ,i feel, one needs to have a concept of Christ’s suffering and sacrifice. In order for mortification to be truly effective…


I actually had this in mind when starting the thread.


Yeah I can understand how the scenes in the Da Vinci code look shocking and abominable especially to Protestant Christians. This is not an attack on Protestants Im just saying they dont have the same background of small physical mortifications that Catholics do. For example we have fasting, especially during Lent. If people could wrap their head around ideas behind fasting, which is probably the easiest form of physical self mortification, then maybe they can start to grasp whats behind the extreme version of whipping.


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