Can I get a beer with that?
In life, it seems like a beer goes great with everything. Football, yes. Basketball, yep. Pizza, sure. Hamburger, absolutely. Pool side, of course. After a hard day of work, duh. What a tremendous gift – beer. Just a few days ago, I was about to sit with my wife and pray and thought, “maybe I’ll have a beer with that.”
I sit most of the day in a comfy chair, in 70-degree weather (thanks to air conditioning), with a view of the Rocky Mountains – sometimes including buffalo. It is nice being comfortable. It is wonderful having everything I really need and more. It is nice avoiding every pain and discomfort. But wait, have I lost something in my life; did I ever have it? Has the idea of mortification vanished?
Now mortification sounds pretty bad. It mirrors mortuary, mortal, mortally – after all, “mors” is Latin for “DEATH” (emphasis added). St. Francis de Sales tells us when we are freed from sin and its evils, we will begin to desire and hunger for spiritual things, like mortification. Ahhh, dang. Well, as long as I can have a beer with my mortification, I guess that isn’t so bad (sarcasm added).
Comfort – it is like the Sirens calling out to us, “Come, be comfortable, you deserve it.” It might be true, and there isn’t anything wrong with striving to have a comfortable life…as long as we don’t drift into mediocrity and fear suffering. One of my favorite quotes, discovered on, coincidentally, a beer advertisement, reads, “I would rather die of thirst than drink from the cup of mediocrity.” Love it. Is the drive for comfort lulling me to sleep or to a life of mediocrity when it comes to serving my Lord Jesus Christ? Sometimes it is, and therefore I need to pick up my mortification game.
Why mortification? Two things: to temper the flesh and combat the sin of intemperance, and to offer sacrifices to our Lord as a beautiful form of prayer. You might be able to add to this list, but these are the two top reasons for me. When we say “no” to something that is morally okay to say “yes” to, we allow God’s grace to take hold of us, to rightly order us – like we were before the Fall. We allow our mind to instruct our will to run things rather than be controlled by our emotions and desires. This gives us great strength, or virtue, to do what we actually should do – it gives us true freedom. The second point is the prayer. By offering something up, just like mom told us to do, we are making a gift of something good to our Lord. We offer His gift (for example beer) back to Him as a gift. This “offering up” can be a powerful form or intercession for loved ones, a powerful prayer of thanksgiving, etc. This habit will allow us to more faithfully serve Him who has given us everything.
Our Lord asks us to lay down our life if need be and to pick up our cross daily and carry it. Does my drive for comfort distract me from these things? And don’t even ask about Lent- I mean who can make it 40 days without chocolate? In all seriousness, I know for me striving to be temperate in life is a calling I love, and a calling that is difficult. I enjoy the cry of magnanimity (being great for the sake of being great, to over simplify) to my soul. I need to work and pray and hope that by God’s grace I can be brought to greater heights of sanctity, desiring Him alone, with or without beer.
Has comfort started to weasel its way into your life, too?
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Can I get a beer with that?
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