Sagacious Himself — brevity in circumlocution: never blague — suffering genius

May 22, 2006

Opus Dei and corporal mortification

Filed under: category euthanized,Knowledge,Liberty,Wisdom — Sagacious Himself @ 10:08 pm

The Da Vinci Code makes it appear that Opus Dei members practice
bloody mortifications. In fact, though history indicates that some
Catholic saints have done so, Opus Dei members do not do this.

The Catholic Church advises people to practice mortification. The
mystery of Jesus Christ’s Passion shows that voluntary sacrifice
has a transcendent value and can bring spiritual benefits to others.
Voluntary sacrifice also brings personal spiritual benefits, enabling
one to resist the inclination to sin. For these reasons, the Church
prescribes fasting on certain days and recommends that the faithful
practice other sorts of mortification as well. Mortification is by no
means the centerpiece of the Christian life, but nobody can grow closer
to God without it: “There is no holiness without renunciation and
spiritual battle” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2015).

In the area of mortification, Opus Dei emphasizes small sacrifices
rather than extraordinary ones, in keeping with its spirit of
integrating faith with secular life. For example, Opus Dei members try
to make small sacrifices such as persevering at their work when tired,
occasionally passing up some small pleasure, or giving help to those in

Some Opus Dei members also make limited use of the cilice and
discipline, types of mortification that have always had a place in the
Catholic tradition because of their symbolic reference to
Christ’s Passion. Many well-known figures in Catholic history
have used the cilice or discipline, such as St. Francis, St.
Thomas More, St. Padre Pio and Blessed Mother
Teresa.  The Church teaches that people should take
reasonable care of their physical health, and anyone with experience in
this matter knows that these practices do not injure one’s health
in any way. The Da Vinci Code’s
description of the cilice and discipline is greatly exaggerated and
distorted: it is simply not possible to injure oneself with them
as the book and film depict. 

Additional explanation from leading Catholic sources regarding Opus Dei and corporal mortification.

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