Tuesday, December 30, 2014
It occurred to me recently that one cannot claim to be a devout Christian unless he lives a penitential life. And by that I mean what used to be called a life of self-mortification. I know quite well that charity is at the heart of true devotion, and that prayer is key. I also know well the warning of Isaiah 58 about true fasting. Still, I also think that one will be crippled in his efforts at prayer, at justice and at charity unless he has the kind of self-mastery that for all the saints has required penitential disciplines, such as fasting, vigils, etc. When people point to St. Therese's "Little Way," they shouldn't forget that she lived at a time when the discipline of the Church was much stricter than it is now and the discipline of her order was much stricter than even that. We modern Catholics are pretty lax. I esp. think that Americans should not so quickly beg off substantially fasting; we (I) eat way more than we need to.