He tells the story from the pulpit a few years back. He tells how he hated to hear three words from his mother, “Offer it up.” He wanted to cry, whine, complain, kick, scream, argue, defend…anything but offer it up.
He admits now that it built character. Fr. Austin Woodbury agrees.
Father Austin Woodbury was one of the most eminent Thomistic Masters of the 20th Century. He was trained by the renowned Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, and was the teacher of the brilliant Thomist Dr. Raphael Waters.
Thomistic Master Father Austin Woodbury recommends both natural and supernatural means for character building such as control of moods; avoidance of rush and dissipation; good companionship; refinement of sensibility by arts and polite social interactions; self-discipline by acts of self-denial; Mass, prayer and the sacraments; devotion to Our Lady; cultivation of supernatural interests, and other points.
“Think of Jesus falling down three times and oh how that must have skinned up His precious knees,” I remind my children when they come to me with big tears and strawberry red scrapes. “Jesus was thirsty and he was offered vinegar, surely you can drink water instead of juice,” I gently ask.
Self-Discipline by Acts of Self-Denial:
By frequently doing actions that we find hard to do, we acquire a self-mastery, which renders it much easier for us to control our moods and passions according to the judgment of reason. In this way do we assure the liberation of our intellectual powers, in which freedom resides: we give them the mastery over what is lower and un-free. Every child should be taught to do every day, or even more often, some little act which he finds hard to do, hard because it involves running counter to an animal inclination; it is important that the child be induced to do these acts spontaneously, without compulsion; we may suggest such acts as speaking kindly to one to whom the child has a sensitive antipathy, or abstaining from the unnecessary eating of sweets. These and other acts of self-discipline are of capital value.
~Fr Austin Woodbury
“Think of Jesus carrying His cross, Jenny. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter and uttered not a word,” I try to remind myself when the world feels like it is crashing in and all I think of is trying to escape the weight of suffering by talking…way too much.
“Think of God the Son, struggling to take a single breath while He hung for three hours; for you, Jenny, for you.” I struggle to remember His suffering as the weight of fear and worry seem to suck the very breath from my lungs.
I was not raised with the concept, better yet the virtue, of sacrifice. Oh sure, I was told it would be nice if I did such and such on occasion, but not taught self-control through mortification. Judging by my children, it is a lot harder to learn the older you are.
So I wonder, how do you strengthen virtue through acts of mortification?
Leave your tips and suggestions in the comments for Jenny…and for all the rest of us, too!