Corporal Discipline v. Our Stubborn, Heard-Hearted, Proud Disobedience
Sin makes us deaf, blind, dumb, and stupid. Where our inner sinner is large enough, even when others attempt to point it out, we cannot see. We have a choice, when others on multiple occasions point out sin we do not see: either persist in arrogant presumption that we are in the right, or humbly realize that sin may have us in its grip and we cannot see what we cannot see.
One gift of traveling in a Halo is that we have others to share the journey running toward Jesus our Christ, who come to know us and our foibles and blindnesses, and, together, we have mutual pastoral responsibility for each other to aid one another on the way. Catholics in a Halo are more likely to come to have their blindspots pointed out to them. This is part of what Jesus means when he says, “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34). Should we choose humble obedience to Christ, how in the world do we deepen our humility so we might come to see what we cannot see?
Saint Benedict offers us a radical choice, and when it comes to overcoming our sinner, we often need to make radical choices to strengthen our will that we may even see the possibility of virtue, let alone choose it, where before we only saw vice, mistaking it for virtue. “...in dealing with the stubborn, the hard-hearted, the proud, and the disobedient, even at the very beginning of their sin, let him chastise them with stripes and with bodily punishment, knowing that it is written, The fool is not corrected with words, And again, Strike thy son with a rod and thou shalt deliver his soul from death” (Rule of Saint Benedict, Ch. 1).
Corporal discipline need not be hair shirts, rods, and stripes, but any practice requiring disciplined fortitude of the body. Be creative. Also, be patient with yourself. Here are a few creative options for corporal discipline:
More than exercise, human power only is the eschewing of motors throughout daily life. Need to run an errand or several? Walk, run, or bike. Mow the lawn? Scythe. Cooking? Hand chop, dice, grind, grate, whip. Note, obvious exceptions need to take place in modern life, such as a commute or family trip that is impractical without a mechanical motor.
Often daily life encases us with noise and promotes “busy” (modern parlance: putting the wrong thing ahead of the right thing). Take a vow of silence for a few hours, half or even full day. Discover stillness and through stillness cultivate mindfulness to the movements in your soul.
Abstaining from modern comforts may help us cultivate strengths we did not realize we were lacking. Shoes, chairs, bed, hot water. Cold showers and beverages for a week. Walk your daily walk barefoot. Go a week sitting on the floor or sleeping on the floor.
Where we are prideful, we see other's successes as threats to ourselves. This is a fallen world perspective. Disciples of Jesus our Christ view other's triumphs as building the Body of Christ and celebrate them with wonder and joy. Even more, they look at others striving to accomplish something and reach sideways to aid them in overcoming barriers, without needing to be asked.
Where we are fearful, terror and anxiety lurks beneath every action and our world gets smaller and smaller. To slay the dragon, face the dragon; face the dragon, discover it is a mouse. Trust. Do it anyway. God made your body to live this life. Were Satan creates fear, dare to tread, for the opposite of what Satan wants is a good initial step toward Jesus our Christ. Turn off the news, stop using the internet or other sources that feed your fears. Discipline yourself to focus on creating through Christ.
Why's Corporal Discipline Effective in Overcoming My Sin?
Saint Augustine's “Confessions” can perhaps be summarized as saying “It's all good, but is it the Best Good?” One definition of sin is putting a lesser good ahead of a greater good, which is inherently disordered. We sin because we are choosing a good, but not seeing a greater good we could be choosing instead.
Exercising our will over our clay grows the same muscles in our soul we need to come to see greater goods. If, with every choice we make the rest of today we pause to consider “What is the Best Good choice I can make here?” by the end of the day, we will already have begun to see more clearly better choices we didn't see before.
Strengthen discipline over our clay, strengthen discipline over our choices, strengthen discipline within our soul to choose virtue over sin.