There is a grave error in the penitential notion of “mortifying the body.”
It replicates the false dualism of “spirit versus matter ” that crept into and overwhelmed the Jewish faith and practice of Jesus as his followers spread out through the Greco-Roman world.
A truer practice is to “affirm the body,” to affirm it as a mortal yet sacred part of the divine whole.
When I allow myself to suffer the large or small sufferings of my body,
when I attend faithfully to the sensory signals of my body,
when I notice the emotions my brain uses to interpret and respond to those signals (pain, pleasure, fear, etc.),
when I watch cautiously the feelings my consciousness ascribes to those emotions (as if the feelings were the “meaning” of those sensory signals, their positive or negative “moral value”),
when I practice such nonjudgmental attentiveness to the whole dynamic of living in and being conscious of this body,
then I am fully affirming that “This is where I am at the moment.”
Without judgment, I need not mortify. I can simply be mortal.
And so it is.
Michael Bright Crow