Like the word chastity, self-denial is a phrase that we no longer seem to use regularly. My hunch is that the secular world’s answer to the human condition – pop psychology – has taught at least two generations that it is harmful to our fragile psyches if we are denied anything.
Our culture believes that nothing should be denied and the results of this dysfunctional premise to our collective spirits are in: increase of pornography, drug addiction, eating disorders, obesity, and divorce. These are all symptoms of our collective spiritual illness.
Unfortunately, many of us were not taught that we need to care for our spirits just like we need to care for our emotions, physical bodies, and intellects. Spiritual care is rarely part of the equation of self-care. Christians are fortunate that they can use the Bible as a guidebook to our spiritual care.
From the Gospel According to Luke, we read two short passages today. Here’s the end of the second one where Jesus said:
“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
yet lose or forfeit himself?”
To take up his cross daily means for me that I stick to my spiritual health plan that consists of three things (and in addition attending mass and reconciliation)
- Daily prayer
- Reading scripture and writing about it here
- Learn about Christianity through on-line courses and books
I know that I cannot skip days because within 2 days, I am overtaken by the secular world. I start to concern myself with small matters, instead of concerning myself with God, my salvation, and my desire to live the examples I read about in scripture and in the lives of the saints. This must be the reason Jesus asked us to take up our cross daily – he was an expert in human nature.
I learned today in That Man Is You that my time on earth is not my own. It is God’s gift to me. Denial of myself means giving up my self-interests and replacing it with God’s will. It means adjusting my life around God, instead of fitting him in when it is convenient.
In A Lenten Journey for Men – the first exercise for us to complete is to track all of our time spent in our orientation toward three things: towards God, towards others and towards ourselves. We are then to compare our time spent with a balanced approach.
Remember the other day that I mentioned that Mother Teresa spent three hours a day in prayer and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. That Man is You program suggests that men spend 2.5 hours a day in our orientation toward God. Use this time for: attending mass, reading scripture, private prayer, family prayer, other spiritual activities such as courses in faith.
I wonder what the world would look like if every Christian spent 150 minutes a day and orient themselves towards God?
Thank you for all of the awesome suggestions to help me discern God’s will!
You might also like these related posts from cinhosa:
Today we remember Saint Polycarp
- Lent and the Science of Self-Denial (ideas.time.com)
- Practicing Self Denial (frted.wordpress.com)
- Thursday (February 23): “Whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” (shechina.wordpress.com)