Self-Denial

Father Frassinetti declares: “Self-denial is necessary for the acquirement of Christian perfection. . . . Self-denial is indispensable to prevent us from falling into mortal sin, and to keep us simply in a state of grace. . . . Without this self-denial no one can be a good disciple of Christ, who says: ‘If any man will follow Me, let him deny himself.'”

In what does this self-denial consist? “It consists in contradicting every inclination which is in any way inordinate. . . . It consists, first of all, in renouncing those inclinations that would lead us into mortal sin, such as the inclination to serious revenge, inclinations to immorality, etc.; secondly, in resisting those that would lead to venial sin, such as officious lying, small thefts, and the rest, and also those that would hinder us from doing what we know to be most pleasing to God, such as the inclination not to yield to another some small right which in strict justice we might retain, and which, notwithstanding, it is better to yield for the sake of fraternal charity. In these things consists the self-denial necessary for the acquirement of Christian perfection.”

Are there any inclinations one should not deny himself? “You have an inclination to eat, and you must eat; you have an inclination to sleep, and you must sleep; you have an inclination to take a suitable recreation after long and serious occupations, and it is necessary you should take it. You are only required to oppose those desires and inclinations which are in some way inordinate.”

“The word ‘self-denial,’ understood in its rigidly material signification, terrifies many, because they imagine it to mean a continual thwarting of oneself without any discretion; and so people come to the conclusion that they would not be able to persevere—at least for any length of time—in practising it. But if we understand it in its true signification, according to the spirit of the Gospel which taught it, no one could be dismayed or discouraged, because it means neither more nor less than the observance of the Divine law, which is an easy yoke and a light burden.”

Quotations from Joseph Frassinetti, The Consolation of the Devout Soul, trans. Georgiana Lady Chatterton (London: Burns and Oates, 1876).

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