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Suggestions for Lenten mortifications, from me and a great priest February 27, 2014

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Dallas Diocese, fun, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, Lent, Liturgical Year, manhood, mortification, priests, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.

Some commenters asked last week for suggestions for Lenten mortifications.  I had been waiting for this past Sunday’s sermon to go up on Audio Sancto to tie in with that, and low and behold, after I had already finished this post I went by Audio Sancto and it has been uploaded!  Thank you, Lord!

This sermon provides wonderful guidance for how to practice mortification during Lent.  Please listen:

I do want to echo what the priest says – Lent is not about undergoing some suffering just to punish ourselves, even in union with Christ’s suffering on the Cross.  Lenten mortification must have a much higher purpose, that being our personal conversion into a life of sanctity.  Thus, these Lenten sacrifices must be engaged in not with a downtrodden spirit, or with many complaints over what you’re suffering.  In fact, if you do that, you will get little if any Grace from your mortifications.  No, these mortifications must be undertaken with a willing, happy spirit, with an open heart that looks forward in hope to the great work of conversion the Graces earned during Lent will make in our souls. This is our yearly opportunity to practice some serious sanctity, maybe even heroic sanctity!  The priest says it so much better than I, but here are some ideas for now (and remember, it is highly advisable to start on many of your mortifications before Lent even formally starts, so you don’t get caught “cold”):

  • Avoid foods you really like.  Take more of foods you don’t like, and less of ones you do
  • Season your foods in ways you really don’t like. If you like salt, have it bland. If you hate salt, salt it up.
  • Avoid meat at one meal a day.  Men, have a salad at one meal (or not, if you love salad).
  • Give up flesh meat entirely for Lent. The devout Orthodox still give up not only ALL meat, including fish, but also ALL animal products, including butter, eggs, cheese, etc. Only do so if you are physically able.
  • Even more hardcore, go with the traditional Lenten fast – on all days save Sunday and Feast days, only eat one full meal with two small snacks. You could add abstinence to this, as well, skipping meat except at the main meal
  • Take your shower hotter or colder than you like
  • If you drive a lot, practice patience by staying in the slow lane and keeping a good distance between you and the car in front of you.  Don’t speed.  Every time you have to slow down, remember that you are growing in patience.
  • For that matter, practice patience by getting in the long line at the store/supermarket. Let people get in front of you
  • Abstain from all TV during Lent
  • Abstain from radio.  Instead of listening to the radio while driving, pray.
  • Abstain from the internet (I get the blogger’s exception on this one-heh)
  • If you have some favorite hobbies or activities, consider giving one or more of them up for the duration of Lent
  • Don’t go out to eat during Lent. Donate the money saved to local pro-life efforts
  • Along with avoiding favorite foods, don’t eat dessert for the duration of Lent.  Or avoid all snacks.  Only eat fruit, instead of sweets.  No processed sugar (can you tell I need to lose weight?).
  • Practice willful spiritual poverty. Deny yourself things.  No impulse buying. Only purchase what is truly necessary.  Again, donate the money saved (almsgiving is another necessary Lenten practice).
  • If you find your job a chore, consider working more. If you love work, try to spend more time away from work (within reason, of course).  Do more chores around the house.
  • Do what your spouse/kids/friends/siblings want, instead of having things your way.  Within prudence.
  • If you have any strong/bad habits, strive to eliminate them entirely or reduce them to a point of true moderation.  This could apply to coffee, nicotine, alcohol (if you love your evening wine, skip it), all kinds of things.

Hopefully, that will get you started.  You obviously don’t have to do all the above, but choose some, or think of your own.  Think of what you really like to do, and even if it is something relatively good, consider giving it up for Lent.

In addition to denial, there are positive acts that can and should be taken as part of spiritual mortification:

  • Commit to reading a selection of spiritual books during Lent
  • Assist at Mass everyday, or every day you possibly can
  • Commit to weekly/regular Confession and arrange to receive spiritual direction if it’s been a while
  • Pray the Stations daily, not just Friday
  • Take up some special Lenten Novenas
  • Commit to praying the Divine Office, or parts of it
  • Practice spiritual and corporal almsgiving. Set aside time to pray for the Poor Souls in Purgatory.  Give more money to charity/Church.
  • Perform daily Adoration, or more adoration.  Note: the Blessed Sacrament need not be exposed for Adoration. You can adore Our Lord just as well in the tabernacle
  • Pray and/or counsel outside abortion mills in your area
  • Exercise more.  If you are accustomed to watching TV or other sedentary activities, commit to mortifying yourself by performing more physical activities.  Get in shape for Jesus.  Our Body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, treat it as such.
  • Say an extra daily Rosary. Or commit to saying all three (or four, if you are mod) sets of Mysteries daily.
  • Practice devotion to the Sacred Heart, or Immaculate Heart of Mary, or……..
  • Pray, pray, pray. Develop a plan of prayer before Lent begins, and stick to it.

There are two critical considerations.  First, have a plan before Lent starts next week on Ash Wednesday.  Be ready to fast or perform whatever mortification you choose well before Ash Wednesday.  As I said at the top, it really helps to take advantage of Septuagesima to start these mortifications in a voluntary way, or at least think them through.  Secondly, if you fall down, don’t worry about it, get back up. If you come across this post 2 weeks into Lent and haven’t started anything, start then.  Another advantage of trying to start your mortifications during Septuagesima, when it is more voluntary, is that if you pick something that just won’t work, you have time to try another mortification.  But if this happens during Lent, pray about it, and change if you absolutely must.  You don’t want to get into a merry-go-round where you keep hopping on and off mortifications.  That would really defeat the purpose.

A final key consideration, to reiterate what I said above, it not to make Lent an unpleasant experience. Yes, we are denying ourselves things, or adding more, but with a purpose, to be more Christ-like and to receive Grace in order to greatly advance our conversion!  Lent can be a time of great spiritual growth, if we take advantage of it, and that should fill our hearts with joy!  As Christ said, when we pray, do it privately, and when we fast, don’t look all miserable and downtrodden, but be happy, look nice, and offer it up!

I have a lot of very good, pious souls as readers.  I welcome your suggestions, as well.


1. Michael - February 27, 2014

Abstain from talk radio and alcohol? This is the ultimate sacrifice.

2. TG - February 27, 2014

No shopping of clothes or shoes for me. Staying out of malls, etc. Only allowing myself to buy necessaties and food. If something comes up, I will buy a gift since it’s not for me. Only suggestion I don’t like is using more salt. That’s bad for your health.

3. TG - February 27, 2014

Tantum, surprised you haven’t written a blog on what’s happening in Michael Voris’s website. Louie V has a blog on it and a whole lot of interesting comments in com box. Apparently, I’m not the only one that things Michael is kind of a hypocrite for criticizing the bishops and not the Pope. When the Pope was a bishop in Argentina, I wonder if he showed that Tango video. I wrote Michael about this and I received an email from one of his employees accusing me of being a sedavacantist. Other people said basically the same thing.

tantamergo - February 27, 2014

This is a completely no win circular firing squad. I decline to participate.

Dismas - February 28, 2014

Actually, my interest was piqued by TG’s comment. Maybe it is prudent not to participate, but something might be gained by reading what Mr. Verecchio writes. It is actually very good and brings up a couple of salient points.

1. He shows perfect charity to Mr. Voris. Mr. Voris is doing some great work and if he chooses to exclude the Holy Father from his list of guilty parties that is entirely the business of Mr. Voris. I would add to this the obvious conclusion that most people are quite capable of recognizing the fact that the Holy Father is engaging in and/or abetting the sort of behavior CMTV criticizes in certain bishops. So what if Mr. Voris does not explicitly mention it? As the saying goes, “we may be crazy but we are not stupid.”

I would simply add to this that as long as we do not confuse the refusal to point out the obvious about the Holy Father with some sort of virtue, we are not misled.

2. Perhaps this is the most important point. Verecchio, along with others, recognizes the hand of someone other than Mr. Voris at work here. The best justice to Mr. Verecchio’s discourse is done by Mr. Verecchio himself, so one might consider perusing it.

http://www.harvestingthefruit.com/blog/ (26 and 27 February)

I remain grateful to Mr. Voris for what he has done. In fact, given that Mr. Voris serves as some sort of segue from conservative Catholicism to traditional Catholicism, perhaps it is even more helpful that he allow all of us to develop our own keen sense of the obvious.

Mr. Verecchio expresses his own gratitude to him quite nicely, while raising the very reasonable doubt that Mr. Voris has authored the piece in question.

Baseballmom - February 27, 2014

Yup. I got the same reply. The pope is the best thing since sliced bread and I am in a sorry state of sin if I don’t believe that. Anyway, these suggestions are awesome…. Ouch, no talk radio and no wine???? Going to be a great lent!

tantamergo - February 27, 2014

I don’t know that I’d try to do them all. Pick and choose what’s best for you.

skeinster - February 28, 2014

But the Pope is a bishop. He’s the Bishop of Rome.
So, there’s that…

4. Siobhan Cuvear - February 27, 2014

For those who would like to perform daily adoration but can’t get to a church I would suggest these 2 sites:


5. Madeleine - February 27, 2014

May I suggest being a part of your local 40 Days for Life? If standing in front of a demonic abortion mill is not penance, I don’t know what is. But you will be blessed for it!

6. Lynne - February 27, 2014

Wonderful post, thanks!

7. john - February 27, 2014

Gshaw! Mortification! That’s so neopalagian… next thing your going to show up to work with ashes on your forehead in a couple of weeks… promethian Pharisees!

8. john - February 27, 2014

Sarcasm… sorry, I cant convey tone.
As for the voris and francis, soft-sede thing, I really think we all really need to take a deep breath and chill out

9. St Maravillas21 - February 27, 2014

Reblogged this on Carmel, Garden of God.

10. John Madison - February 27, 2014

I’m giving up a near occasion of sin. The sin of anger. This Lent I will not read any articles about Pope Frank.

Baseballmom - February 28, 2014

That may be an excellent idea. A friend sent me the latest about him, that he “gave a heroes welcome” to an old Liberation Theology founder… Really was disheartening.

11. skeinster - February 28, 2014

That really was an excellent sermon- thanks for letting us know it was up!

Instead of giving up a hobby, I am going to slog through the backlog of sewing/knitting projects I have left undone.
This will aid in perseverance and others will benefit. Plus, it’s meditative. Win/win!

And will be praying the Joseph’s Cloak 30 Days prayer again this year.

And something I promised the Pilgrim Virgin.

12. skeinster - February 28, 2014

The link to the St. Joseph’s prayer post:

Even if we start it late- it’s a good one.

13. Hannah - February 28, 2014

Can’t believe Lent is here already. How time flies.

I always enjoy getting the ashes, doing the Stations of the Cross, lenten Masses, Eucharistic Adoration. It’s all so wonderful.

Great post, Tantum! Thanks much!

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