Today’s feast of St Rose of Lima calls to mind a woman who practised self-mortification in pursuit of spiritual perfection; one who lived an apostolate of suffering and immolation of self in imitation of Christ.
Catholics must be cautious about trying to copy such mystics, because they may have received inspiration and help from God not offered to all.
Yet saints such as Rose reveal bodily mortification, such as fasting and other forms of self-denial, as vital to progress in the spiritual life. It just doesn’t have to be so severe as to involve self-harming or depriving oneself of sleep, for example.
Most souls, according to Fr Antonio Royo Marín, a Dominican theologian, should practise mortification simply “by accepting the little crosses of daily life with a spirit of faith and perseverance”.
They are also purified when, for instance, they mortify their senses daily by shunning evil or frivolous conversations, by avoiding lustful glances, and by eating and drinking moderately. Also, try turning off the television to sit quietly with God since, in the words of St John of the Cross, “the language that He best hears is that of silent love”.