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Ascetical Practice: 30 Days w Teresa of Avila: day 26 reflectn pt 2

Ascetical Practice
30 Days with Teresa of Avila
Part 2, Day 26 Reflections
Divine Intimacy Radio

When St. Teresa’s brother expressed a desire to practice physical mortification she gave him some spiritual direction. Dan and Melissa discuss ascetical practice, or acesis, and spiritual progress as they reflect on letters from St. Teresa in the book 30 Days with Teresa of Avila.

Topics/Questions covered in the show:

  • What is a hair shirt? How is it used in the spiritual life?over-Front_-_30_Days_Teresa_of_Avila_20150128a_pdf
  • The role of the Holy Spirit in physical ascetical practices.
  • How can one avoid the sin of pride when practicing ascesis?
  • Discerning whether, or how, to practice mortification.
  • Interior mortification vs. external mortification.
  • What are the benefits of ascetical practices?
  • What are the fruits of suffering? Is voluntary suffering as fruitful as involuntary suffering?


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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, and Divine Intimacy Radio, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, and his newest books Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep and Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • Camila

    Today’s broadcast caught my attention this morning, and having my 3 year old wake up early asking to snuggle (hence unable to continue my academic studies) I tuned into the podcast. I am so happy I did this.

    But I have a question, that has been brewing up lately. Could it be the case that even a tiny small discomfort of the flesh could actually be medicinal in orienting the soul into a right disposition?

    For example: I want to work on being more cheerful and silent. Two mortifications that are tough for me. If perhaps I could have something small, hidden, just for the sake of a reminder and refocusing – could this help me in the interior mortification of becoming less of a grumpy chatter box, and more (very very remotely) like a silent and humble lamb?

    • LizEst

      Run everything past your spiritual director. If the director, knowing your particular circumstances, gives it his/her blessing, then it is OK for you. If your director does not approve it, then it is verboten, forbidden. It’s possible that it could be useful, but, as is indicated in the podcast, it could cause a person to take pride in the refocusing. In this manner, what started out as a reminder and was, at first useful, instead became, as time went on, an instrument of increasing one’s pride.

  • Charles Saliba

    Our Most Blessed, Most Holy, and
    Ever Virgin Mary to St. Elizabeth of Toss

    The Revelations of St. Elizabeth

    Chapter 7

    On another occasion Christ’s handmaid, Elizabeth, was standing in prayer and
    thinking how great a grace God had done the glorious Virgin. The Blessed Virgin appeared to her and said to her, “My daughter, you think that I had such
    great grace from my creator without any effort on my part. But it was not so
    except for that grace of sanctification in my mother’s womb. I gained every
    other grace with much physical and mental effort, for instance by praying
    continually day and night with most burning love, and by lamenting with most
    bitter groans, and by always thinking, saying and doing whatever I believed most pleased my creator, and with the greatest care avoiding every offence, however trivial.” She added,
    “You may hold it as immutable, daughter, that no influx of devotion perfectly pleasing to God, or gift of grace or virtue, descends on the human heart, except through devout prayer of the mind and HARSH AFFLICTION OF THE BODY. For after someone has made a perfect offering to God of body and soul, the two combined, and God has dedicated them to his service and honour, of his grace the Lord God, the most high, begins to make that human soul joyful to such an extent that she cannot bear it.

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