On mortiﬁcation as a means to surmount the obstacles to devotion to the Sacred Heart
The best means of surmounting the obstacles to the devotion to the sacred heart, is, interior and exterior mortiﬁcation. From the former, no one can be dispensed; it is that violence which one must incessantly do himself, in order to bear away the kingdom of heaven. There is no person who cannot mortify his humor, his desires, his inclinations; who cannot be silent when vanity would prompt him to speak, or vivacity lead him to answer. Behold in what interior mortiﬁcation consists; by which one weakens and reduces self- love to reason, and gets rid of his imperfections. In vain do we ﬂatter ourselves that we love Jesus Christ; if we be not mortiﬁed, the ﬁnest sentiments of piety, the noblest practices, are suspicious without it. Hence, when St Ignatius was told that such or such a person was a saint, “He will be such,” he would reply, “if he be mortiﬁed.” It is not enough to mortify one’s self for a time, or in some things; but at all times, and in all things. One irregular gratiﬁcation con ceded to nature, renders it more stubborn and rebellious, than a hundred denied to it, would have weakened it. This virtue is familiar to all who desire to be perfect; there is nothing of which they do not make use to mortify their natural inclinations. It is enough that they wish to look upon, or say something to induce them to cast down their eyes, or be silent; a wish to hear a piece of news, or to know what is passing, is to them a subject of mortiﬁcation so much the more meritorious, as it is more common, and that God alone is the witness. To he often interrupted in a serious occupation, and to bear it with patience and sweetness; to suffer the inconveniences arising from places, persons, seasons, are so many occasions of exercising this virtue; and it may be affirmed with truth, that the most sublime sanctity commonly depends on the generosity and ﬁdelity with which one turns all these little occasions to proﬁt.
And let no one say that a mortiﬁed life is a painful and sad one: “The yoke of Jesus Christ is always sweet, and his burden light.” Were the saints deceived when they said, “I super abound with joy in my tribulations?” “I am in a country,” says St Francis Xavier, in one of his letters, “where I want all the comforts of life; yet I feel such interior consolation, that by force of tears I am in danger of losing my sight.” ‘Let us have a little courage; it is the ﬁrst step which is the most painful. Try—the thing is worth little which does not value our searching for it. If after ﬁfteen days’ perfect and continual mortiﬁcation we taste not those sweets which others experience, said a great servant of God, we may say the yoke of the Lord is heavy.
Say thrice: Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us. Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.