What are your thoughts on "self denial"


#1

Iv’e been trying to use self denial as a form of helping my growth, but at times there seems to be nothing happening.
What do you think of self denial, or do you think there is credence in living this way?
How may it help a persons spiritual growth?
Thanks for any information
Godbless


#2

Iv’e been trying to use self denial as a form of helping my growth, but at times there seems to be nothing happening.
What do you think of self denial, or do you think there is credence in living this way?
How may it help a persons spiritual growth?
Thanks for any information
Godbless


#3

When denying oneself, it helps to focus on God. I am doing this for God and not myself.


#4

it depends entirely on the reason for doing it. It’s purpose should be meditating on and union with Christ’s suffering. I doubt very much the efficacy of adopting any spiritual practice, including penitential, beyond the tradional practices of the Church (fast and abstinence, daily devotions & prayer, chastity for one’s state in life etc.) w/o permission of one’s confessor or spiritual director.


#5

Saying “No” to little things like food, or even simply sugar in your coffee, makes it easier to say “NO!” to big things like sin.

I doubt very much the efficacy of adopting any spiritual practice, including penitential, beyond the tradional practices of the Church (fast and abstinence, daily devotions & prayer, chastity for one’s state in life etc.) w/o permission of one’s confessor or spiritual director.

You’re quite right, Puzzleannie. Our fasting should not be self-willed, but obedient to the Church. Otherwise, we become like the demons who never eat at all.


#6

mortification is a long road to virtue, but worth the effort. make a conscious effort to do these little things with great love (as therese would say) for Jesus, and they will bear more fruit more quickly. suffering for the sake of suffering is poitless vanity. suffering for love, however, builds the soul


#7

I subscribe to this group:

groups.yahoo.com/group/MaryVitamin/

Mary Vitamin for October 1st

Topic: St. Therese and Our Lady of the Smile

Quote:
“All of a sudden the Blessed Virgin appeared beautiful to me, so beautiful that never had I seen anything so attractive; her face was suffused with an ineffable benevolence and tenderness, but what penetrated to the very depths of my soul was the ravishing smile of the Blessed Virgin. “
sttheres e.com/Guide% 20to%20Normandy. html

Meditation:
Throughout the following excerpt from Fr. Irala’s book, Achieving Peace of Heart, one can also see the wisdom of St. Therese’s “Little Way” which was full of small mortifications. St. Therese tried to behave in a way opposite to the way she felt.

“In fear or anger the eyes become hard, staring, and blink scarcely at all. The road to victory in moments of irritation is to relax the eyes deliberately, blink often and try to smile with the eyes. … In a state of emotion the voice tends to be hard and trembling. So, in a moment of wrath, you should keep quiet or answer very softly. Speak in a stronger tone of confidence when you feel fear, and in moments of sadness use a more animated tone of voice. … The Japanese have a more poetical expression: ‘When the face smiles, the sun come out in the heart.’ We should, then, relax and soften the lines of facial expression and unclench tense hands in emotional moments.”
Father Narciso Irala, S.J, Achieving Peace of Heart, (Roman Catholic Books), 93.


#8

Saint Therese Lisieux, “The Little Flower”

“In times of aridity when I am incapable of praying, of practicing virtue, I seek little opportunities, mere trifles, to give pleasure to Jesus; for instance a smile, a pleasant word when inclined to be silent and to show weariness. If I find no opportunities, I at least tell Him again and again that I love Him; that is not difficult and it keeps alive the fire in my heart. Even though this fire of love might seem extinct I would still throw little straws upon the embers and I am certain it would rekindle.”


#9

Self-denial aka mortification should be considered a long term program. At least that is the way we consider it in the 1221 associations

penitents.org

bspenance.org

In both organizations, we use a simple rule of life in the spirit of OBEDIENCE. We start trying to do things God’s way instead of our own. The mortifications are not that drastic, but they do serve to keep our mind on God.

We try to find at least 90 minutes a day for prayer and other spiritual exercises. In our busy busy busy culture, this can be considered motification of time. We have a fasting and abstinence program that reminds us to eat to live, not live to eat. We try to simplify our lifestyle so that we use our material possessions, but are not enslaved to them.

The long term purpose of all this is conversion, a turning to God. It will not happen overnight. We are not saints. But it gives us penitents a formal structure to build on.

As always, these opinions have not been endorsed by my cats. I cannot imagine them endorsing any kind of fasting program:D


#10

Self-denial is a critical aspect of discipleship. It’s part of self-mortification, another vital aspect of following Christ. If we are to be like Christ and partake in divine intelligence, we must constantly struggle to overcome our nature. It’s a minute-by-minute challenge, constantly confronting us, in this world of moral chaos. But self-denial is much more than denying ourselves physical pleasure. It demands that we discipline ourselves such that our every thought and deed, down to the most minute detail, conform to the standards of impeccable discipleship. This means that we gradually defeat every vice within us, under all circumstances. We must even be willing to die, at any time, for our Christian identity.


#11

the problem may lie in the statement “nothing much seems to be happening”. we are not the best judges of our own spiritual progress, that is the reason the wise Christian chooses a trusted confessor or spiritual director for guidance.


#12

My sense is that if you hold to your purpose and in a years time look back you will see a difference. Consistency and repetition are words that come to mind. In 16 years of coaching I have had some kids who were…bereft of skills. Yet, in time they always developed their skills.

Is there credence to self denial? I think so. Certainly if it is done for God and not self.


#13

Lots of prayer should be considered a mortification. Mortification of time. Prayers to God are more important then watching the TV or other activities that take up time, but could really be ignored.

NOW, I am a Confirmed Bachelor without a TV set. So I do have the time, and here (for amusement ONLY, not trying to be “holier then thou”) is my current prayer schedule

@@@

My current prayer schedule, always subject to revision, is as follows. This is for your amusement ONLY. I am a long way from being a Spiritual Guru. Trust me on this. My cats still do not come to me when I call them. Then again, I doubt if they came to St. Francis when HE called them either. :rolleyes:

DR = Daily Reader. Any book with 365/366 brief entries.

MATINS: About 15 minutes. 1221 prayers, DR “Every day is a Gift”. Other brief prayers

LAUDS: About 15 minutes. LOTH Morning Prayer. Usually done at 1 PM in the afternoon, before leaving for work. I work 3:00 PM - 11:30 PM at the Post Office

PRIME: About 10 minutes. MAGNIFICAT magazine.

TIERCE: About 10 minutes. LOTH Daytime Prayer

SEXT: About 10 minutes. Book “In Conversation With God”. Other brief prayers.

NONE: Varies. A selection of spiritual readings including Butler’s.

VESPERS: About 15 Minutes. LOTH Evening Prayer.

VIGILS: About 20 minutes. LOTH Office Of Readings

COMPLINE: Varies. LOTH Night Prayer. 1221 and other brief prayers. More spiritual reading. Bedtime prayers ending with “Now I lay me down to sleep…”.

Now this may look GOSH! WOW!! impressive, but it really isn’t. It’s just a lot of small chunks spread through out the day and night. One hour of this (Prime - None) is at work during my coffee breaks and lunch break, when I have nothing else to do. And it does help me to calm down.

Back home at midnight, (Vespers - Compline) things are calm and quiet in my apartment complex, ideal for meditation and contemplation. Helped out by the cats, of course.


#14

Quoting from Water:

Saint Therese Lisieux, “The Little Flower”

“In times of aridity when I am incapable of praying, of practicing virtue, I seek little opportunities, mere trifles, to give pleasure to Jesus; for instance a smile, a pleasant word when inclined to be silent and to show weariness. If I find no opportunities, I at least tell Him again and again that I love Him; that is not difficult and it keeps alive the fire in my heart. Even though this fire of love might seem extinct I would still throw little straws upon the embers and I am certain it would rekindle.”

Hi Water…Excellent quote from St. Therese!

Penance, or self denial, is from metanoia which means to “reverse direction”. In the above quotation, the direction self wanted to take in St. Therese is to “be silent and to show weariness”…but St. Therese reverses the direction of self, by denying herself or self denial, and rather to smile. This shows the true heart of self denial…metanoia, to reverse one’s direction that would be away from God, and redirect self to God.

Sometimes acts of mortification and so called self denial are merely self indulgent so one can feel onself as holy and doing good. This is all about self and indulging self. True self denial will go against self.
By the very same token, acts of mortification and self denial, are not always self indulgent. It is all about the true interior motivation which of course God always knows, no matter what one may tell oneself - and as one grows closer to God, the true interior motivation perhaps hidden from self previously, is revealed to the self in quite a clear way.
Prayer is a great honor and priviledge if one thinks about it, and prayer per se is not self denial at all I dont think - it is an awesome matter. I would never tell myself that prayer time is self denial, even on those times when I really dont want nor feel like praying…rather I would try to stir myself to the great honor and privilege that prayer indeed is.

It can be very difficult for me to see myself in truth and in a really detached objective manner and this is so for all of us…this is why a spiritual director can be such treasure in the spiritual life, providing of course he/she is a good director and most nowadays I think are. How do I know if my director is a good one?..it will become apparent.

Barb:)
catholicculture.org/Culture/library/dictionary/index.cfm?id=34855
METANOIA

For definition of “metanoia” see Catholic Dictionary short entry on the above link. Penance, self denial, repentance etc. are closely linked.
newadvent.org/cathen/02172a.htm

Greek for “penance” is metanoia.


#15

Quoting Andruschak

Now this may look GOSH! WOW!! impressive, but it really isn’t. It’s just a lot of small chunks spread through out the day and night. One hour of this (Prime - None) is at work during my coffee breaks and lunch break, when I have nothing else to do. And it does help me to calm down.

This is what works for me and my day also. Rather than a quite long period of prayer, to have small chunks in the day around my duties for that particular day, rather than at actual times by the clock. My longest prayer period (and I dont pray all Offices - Morning and Evening Prayer, Night Prayer. Afternoon Prayer with private prayer. All from “Prayer for The Divine Office” and not the whole Divine Office which is much longer.
Afternoon prayer is preceded by Prayer to my Guardian Angel and the Angelus, then Afternoon Prayer, and then 15mins Private Prayer at least. At least this would take 25-30mins and is my longest prayer period. At times somewhere in my day I may read the Office of Readings or some sort of spiritual work.

Saturdays and Fridays, Rosary and Chaplet of Mercy somewhere in my day.

The above is not followed religiously, if I need to vary something then I do.

When you write it, the above can look like a case of much, but it isn’t …I find it quite easily can fit into the busiest of days. If not for some unusual reason, then I vary it accordingly.
The thing about monastic life in strict enclosure, is that it is actually structured - the whole lifestyle - and on a fixed basis for Prayer and The Hours…and it is amazing how a community around one can be very supportive…as well as a trial at times. Very often life as a secular our lives are not so easily structured and most especially possibly with a family. Hence for monastic life, prayer and The Divine Office is mandatory for monastics…while the laity is not so obligated, while that we do pray personally is - but The Church does not set us particular prayers or time periods daily. The Mass of course is a Prayer and the public worship of The Church to which we are obligated Sundays. The Church is wise indeed.

Barb:)


#16

Well I read a lot of your information, and I got lost mainly because I am not a person who can take in much unless it is the most simple of simple expressions.
I can understand Jesus, He only spoke of Love in the simplest forms. Therese gave me that in her book “A retreate with St Therese” ( exactly like “Autobiography of a soul”).
I read how she would not speak to those nun’s making noises with their rosaries, the nun scrubbing her clothing putting the larther all over Therese, etc. These are to me all in the simplest form and equated to “self denial”.

So, I made up many of my own, and I am like the little bird Therese mantions who climbs then falls but all is made easy when Jesus doing the work.

For example, today I blew the leaves and stones etc from in front of the coffee shop next to work, for which I get a free coffee or what ever I want. When I finished I saw an elderly man sit to take a breath. I asked if he were all right and then asked if he would like a drink. He said he didn’t have the money. I told him how i earn a drink and offered it to him. I took him into the shop and offered the coffee of his wish to him, then I got back to work having asked the young girl to give him what he wished. He smiled and waved as I left to work.
That was ( I thought a good jesture), but…

Latter while my work mate and I did the rubbish collection at work he told me to pick up paper and weed spray an area, no problem with spraying that but I noticed cleaning was his job for which he had the tools, I cleaned it and was so anoid at his not doing it himself when he should have. Even though I knew I shouldn’t have been for I should have offered it up to Jesus. latter we cleaned an area of sticks, leaves and other. He said that maybe he would fill the big wool baggs and I lift then into and empty them into the trailor. (they are quite heavy, he is 30 I am 60) I didn’t speak to him for a time, you would say that I fell apart, like Therese I should have smiled at times I can.

Latter I started speaking to him even though I felt drained, (Guess I was doing it by my strength) I knew that I had to open up and smile, speak to him, offer to teach him a musical instrument ( during break) even though I thought he was wrong earlier. What would Jesus do in this instance? Nothing less than he did all his life and I should have had more strength to do like wise what Jesus did.

I love self denial. As some of you have mentioned it depends on your motivation and God knows the real motivation.
My motivation to deny the flesh is to concqure the flesh. I believe that each time I deny the flesh I give the spirit the strength to become closser to God, to gain a stronger place in my whole being spirit flesh and mental self. If I feed the spirit the word, practice the words of Jesus, deny the flesh , because in doing so automaticly I go into a mode of thinking externally, thinking of God’s will being done.

Self denial!!!
Godbless


#17

Quoting littleone

Well I read a lot of your information, and I got lost mainly because I am not a person who can take in much unless it is the most simple of simple expressions.

Hi Wayne…and a beautiful post again and from someone who is walking his walk…
Sometimes, my understanding just flips off…
…and it is one thing to write … another thing entirely to walk the walk and what is written…

I can understand Jesus, He only spoke of Love in the simplest forms. Therese gave me that in her book “A retreate with St Therese” ( exactly like “Autobiography of a soul”).
I read how she would not speak to those nun’s making noises with their rosaries, the nun scrubbing her clothing putting the larther all over Therese, etc. These are to me all in the simplest form and equated to “self denial”.

In fact, the very heart of self denial…

So, I made up many of my own, and I am like the little bird Therese mantions who climbs then falls but all is made easy when Jesus doing the work.

:thumbsup: I can’t recall the little bird but I have not read her autobiography in a long time now, but I can recall the lift/escalator which is the same lesson as the little bird.:thumbsup:

For example, today I blew the leaves and stones etc from in front of the coffee shop next to work, for which I get a free coffee or what ever I want. When I finished I saw an elderly man sit to take a breath. I asked if he were all right and then asked if he would like a drink. He said he didn’t have the money. I told him how i earn a drink and offered it to him. I took him into the shop and offered the coffee of his wish to him, then I got back to work having asked the young girl to give him what he wished. He smiled and waved as I left to work.
That was ( I thought a good jesture), but…

…real fraternal love for a brother in action:thumbsup: …and that tanscends (or more than) talking the right talk, Wayne…it is walking the right talk …

Latter while my work mate and I did the rubbish collection at work he told me to pick up paper and weed spray an area, no problem with spraying that but I noticed cleaning was his job for which he had the tools, I cleaned it and was so anoid at his not doing it himself when he should have. Even though I knew I shouldn’t have been for I should have offered it up to Jesus. latter we cleaned an area of sticks, leaves and other. He said that maybe he would fill the big wool baggs and I lift then into and empty them into the trailor. (they are quite heavy, he is 30 I am 60) I didn’t speak to him for a time, you would say that I fell apart, like Therese I should have smiled at times I can.

…in our failures, we can learn humility…

Latter I started speaking to him even though I felt drained, (Guess I was doing it by my strength) I knew that I had to open up and smile, speak to him, offer to teach him a musical instrument ( during break) even though I thought he was wrong earlier. What would Jesus do in this instance? Nothing less than he did all his life and I should have had more strength to do like wise what Jesus did.

…and thanks to Grace, when we recognize our failures, we amend our ways…and this takes humiliity and often great personal effort…

I love self denial. As some of you have mentioned it depends on your motivation and God knows the real motivation.

:thumbsup:

My motivation to deny the flesh is to concqure the flesh. I believe that each time I deny the flesh I give the spirit the strength to become closser to God, to gain a stronger place in my whole being spirit flesh and mental self. If I feed the spirit the word, practice the words of Jesus, deny the flesh , because in doing so automaticly I go into a mode of thinking externally, thinking of God’s will being done.

…and are open to The Holy Spirit:thumbsup: …not too many insight what is “the world and the flesh”…and what is “spirit”…
… no two people are led by The Lord in precisely the same way, as we are all different, and Grace will build on nature, or who we intrinsically are…while the principles of spirituality are forever always the same…

Blessings, Wayne…and may The Lord continue to bless you always too…Barb:)


#18

:thumbsup: Excellent topic and replys ! Thanks to those who provided links.


#19

Somebody can probably provide a link to this. I remember someone posting a list over on Spirituality a year or so ago about little penances the saints would do or were saint-like that we can do in our daily lives:

Stuff like:

Wait 5 minutes before opening a letter you were really anticipating.


#20

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