Of Hairshirts & the Like
Amy's having a fascinating discussion on mortification. I like what she's saying - because I'm of the Chestertonian variety of Christian - but I'm skeptical for that very reason. I think Therese is right when she sees it as "behavior modification". If one punishes oneself after a repeated transgression, knowing what we know of human psychology that is surely an effective means of making that transgression less palatable.
Via Amy's blog...a quote from a letter of St. Jane de Chantal to a priest to whom she was giving spiritual direction:
Take my word for it, our Lord is more pleased with our accepting the relief our body and spirit require, than by all these apprehensions of not doing enough and wanting to do more. All God wants is our heart. And He is more pleased when we value our uselessness and weakness out of love and reverence for His holy will, than we do violence to ourselves and perform great works of penance. .....What God, in His goodness, asks of you is not this excessive zeal that has reduced you to your present condition, but a calm, peaceful unselessness, a resting near Him with no special attention or action of the understanding or will except a few words of love or of faithful, simple surrender, spoken softly, effortlessly, without the least desire to find consolation or satisfaction....