The word mortification is a terrifying one. It literally comes from the Latin mortificare that means “to put to death”, specifically, in traditional understanding, “the desires of the flesh”. It was considered essential for salvation back in the day and it conjures images of self-flagellation, monks in hair shirts holding skulls, and all manner of other creepy and unpleasant things. The thought of it has almost single handedly fueled the rampant hatred of traditional Religion. To 99% of the population it seems to suggest that mankind is bad, God’s gifts should be rejected, and that the world and this life are evil. Such a view of mortification fuels a vision of God who is cruel and bloodthirsty rather than a gentle and loving good shepherd. We all know the vision of an egotistical and masochistic God couldn’t be farther from the truth, therefore, it “stands to reason” that we should also reject everything that supports this vision – hence the word has become all but taboo, and anyone who dares contemplate it is automatically considered crazy, even by themselves.
But what if mortification is more than this? What if we’ve rotundly rejected an essential spiritual practice because of misunderstanding, and rediscovering it might be the forgotten secret to the spiritual vibrancy we can only dream about.
Do you feel far away from God? Like He is there but inaccessible? In your mind He exists, but He doesn’t really care? You’ve been trying, but failing, and an actual relationship with Him is starting to feel indistinct, inapproachable, and unattainable? Or, at best, like something “everyone else” will always have, but never you?
If so, this is for you.
Remember, we do not gain a relationship with God on the basis of sheer will power alone. We do not and cannot force Him to do anything, nor ourselves for that matter. So, its a good thing will-power, talent, and brute force aren’t required here. All we really have to do is show up like we mean it!
This post is about how to show up…
My friend was telling me the other day how, when she asked about the Trinity, her pastor (Non-Denominational Protestant) answered, “Oh, I avoid talking about that because it’s just too complicated!”
Both of us were rather aghast. The Trinity might be “complicated” but it’s the central truth of Christian Biblical Faith! How can we possibly avoid talking about it?
I almost titled this post, “What’s Religion got to do with it?”, but the other title was better for SEO 🙂 Nevertheless, the question still stands. More and more and more people are dropping by the hour into believing that it it doesn’t have much to do with anything – mostly just “personal preference” on how one acknowledges belief in a higher power… not much else. That’s why which Religion you join “doesn’t really matter”.
Or does it?
There’s a Facebook post I saw recently – “Those who say religion has all the answers hasn’t tried one of these [picture of a host] with jam and brie”. As a Catholic, I was mortally horrified by this, of course, but, as a person, I felt some compassion for their cynicism. They’ve been fed the line that ‘Religion has all the answers’, and that, especially Catholicism – as the “Church Jesus founded” and with an “infallible Pope” – should be blindly embraced with all soul, heart, mind, and strength – and, often, longing as they are for truth, people do.