May 23, 2006

Some things are simply just nuts

So I've read John Allen's Opus Dei book and liked it immensely. I found it balanced and to the point. However, he mentions that the cilice (the barbed chain that Opus Dei members wear secretly on their leg) is an ancient practice of corporal mortification that even Blessed Theresa of Calcutta used and encouraged.

My comment here is that just because something has been used by many people doesn't mean that it's not downright goofy.

Is corporal mortification something we should use in prayer as Catholics? Or does it hold within in practice dangerous tendencies for some (if not all) users?

I await your comments.


Anonymous said...

You can't be a Christian without corporal mortification (Romans 8:13). There are different ways of doing this, some more appropriate to religious and monastic life. But if you aren't doing some version of it, you aren't practicing Christian spirituality.

ProverbialMike said...

Perhaps I should have said--extreme corporal mortification??

Anonymous said...

What's "extreme"? I think running five miles a day is extreme. Isaac Hecker certainly regretted some of the extremes to which he took his corporal mortification, but he didn't say don't do it, he said, "Don't go too fast." All religious orders (and Opus Dei) that practice the forms of corporal mortification that you describe (Merton used them too, and I know a Jesuit who said all novices still used them in his day, and I know of Dominicans who still use them)--all of these specify that you must only do it under the eye of your spiritual director.

And as John Allen says, OD uses the most mild cilice on the market.

And what OD actually uses (a little bitty chain that doesn't break the skin, and a 2 oz macrame cord) are a far cry from the cartoonish excesses of "The Da Vinci Code" (movie).


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