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Mortification

Mortification, viewed thus as a means of curing bad habits and implanting good ones, has its recognized place in the methods even of those who are engaged in pursuing purely natural ends. What is peculiar to Christian mortification is, that it relies for the attainment of its spiritual objects, not merely on this natural efficacy of its methods, but still more on the aids of divine grace, for which, by its earnestness in self discipline and the Christian motive which inspires it, it can plead so powerfully with God. And here, as further contributing to increase its spiritual efficacy, another motive for which it is practiced comes in. It is practiced likewise as an expiation for past sins and short comings, for it is the belief of the Catholic Church that, although only the Atonement of Christ can offer adequate expiation for the sins of men, men ought not to make that an excuse for doing nothing themselves, but should rather take it as an incentive to add their own expiations to the extent of their power, and should regard such personal expiations as very pleasing to God.

—from the Catholic Encyclopedia entry on Mortification (emphasis in bold is The Five Minute Catholic’s)

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