19 Passion and Death. Mortification.

"Greater love has no man than this,
    that a man lay down his life for his friends."
(Jn 15:13)

"Late have I loved You
O Beauty ever ancient and ever new!
You have called,
You have cried out
    and have pierced my deafness.
You have shone forth
    and have dispersed my blindness.
You have sent forth Your fragrance
    and I have drawn my breath
    and pant after You.
And now my whole hope
    is in nothing else
    but in Your exceeding great mercy,
    O Lord my God.
For he loves You
    who loves anything else with You
    which he loves not for You.
O love, which always burns
    and are never extinguished,
true charity, my God,
    set me all on fire!
Give me what You ask
    and ask what You will."
(St Augustine)

Why do we talk about love?
Because it is only in the context of love that sacrifice makes sense.
It is only against the backdrop of charity that the Cross becomes meaningful.
The reason for saying no to self
    is to say yes to the Other.

"In our present state of fallen nature,
    it is impossible for us
    to love God truly and effectively
    without sacrificng ourselves for Him."
(Adolphe Tanquerey, The Spiritual Life, no 321)

Mortification can be defined as "the struggle against our evil inclinations,
    in order to subject them to the will,
    and the will to God."
We mortify ourselves
    only to live a higher life;
we despoil ourselves of external goods
    only the better to lay hold of spiritual goods;
we renounce self
    but to possess God;
we struggle
    but to obtain peace;
we die to ourselves
    but to live the life of Christ, the life of God."
(Adolphe Tanquerey, The Spiritual Life, no 354)

"If I love You, Lord,
    it is not because of heaven which You have promised me.
If I fear to offend You,
    it is not because of Hell that threatens me.
What draws me unto You, Lord, is Yourself alone--
    is the sight of You,
    nailed to the Cross,
    Your body bruised amid the pangs of death.
Your love so holds my heart that
were there no Heaven,
    I would love You still;
    were there no Hell,
    I would fear You yet.
I need not Your gifts to make me love You,
for although I should have no hope of all I do hope for,
I would love You still with the selfsame love."
(The Ballandists, History of St Theresa, vol II, chap 31)

"There are no labours too great for loving hearts.
In fact, one finds pleasure therein,
    as we observe in the fisherman fishing,
    the hunter at the chase,
    the merchant at the mart.
For where there is love,
    there is no labour,
or if there be labour,
    it is a labour of love."
(St Augustine, De bono Viduitatis, chap 21)

"If we put bits into the mouths of horses that they may obey us,
    we guide their whole bodies.
Look at the ships also;
    though they are so great and are driven by strong winds,
    they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.
So the tongue is a little member and boasts of great things.
How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire!
And the tongue is a fire.
    The tongue is an unrighteous world among our members,
    staining the whole body,
    setting on fire the cycle of nature,
    and set on fire by hell. *
For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature,
    can be tamed and has been tamed by humankind,
but no human being can tame the tongue--
    a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
With it we bless the Lord and Father,
    and with it we curse men,
    who are made in the likeness of God.
From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.
    My brethren, this ought not to be so.
Does a spring pour forth from the same opening fresh water and brackish?
Can a fig tree, my brethren, yield olives, or a grapevine figs?
No more can salt water yield fresh."
(James 3:3-12)

"Lord Jesus, let me know myself
    and know You,
    and desire nothing save only You.
Let me hate myself and love You.
Let me do everything for the sake of You.
Let me humble myself and exalt You.
Let me think nothing except You.
Let me banish self and follow You,
    and ever desire to follow You.
Let me fly from myself
    and take refuge in You,
    that I may deserve to be defended by You.
Let me distrust myself
    and put my trust in You.
Let me cling to nothing
    save only to You,
    and let me be poor because of You.
Look upon me,
    that I may love You.
Call me
    that I may see You,
    and forever enjoy You.
(St Augustine)

"O my Jesus,
You have given yourself to me,
    I now give myself to You.
You have given me your heart,
    I give you mine.
You have kept nothing back for yourself;
    neither do I keep anything back for myself.
Perhaps a few years of life still remain to me;
    would you rejoice thereat?
I still have good health;
    do you want it?
Perhaps I have modest talents for certain work;
    do you want them?
I have thoughts and inclinations;
    I have plans for the future;
    I still have hopes of various kinds
    and some undertakings just begun;
    would you like to have all those things for yourself?
It is true indeed that I am poor and miserable;
    but you rejoice most at gifts
    that flow out from a heart full of love for You.
So I consecrate to You
    all that I am,
    all that I have,
    all that I do,
    all that I suffer --
    I consecrate to You. ...
(After Communion, pp 101-102. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1988)