Self-Denial, the Test of Religious Earnestness, Part 2

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Thee Minutes with Newman

Self-Denial, the Test of Religious Earnestness, Part 2

by Fr. Juan Vélez

Jesus bids us to take up our cross daily. We must careful, however, of the danger of self-deception by doing things for our own praise. Self-denial in daily life is the chief duty and test of whether we are living as Christ’s disciples and are on our way to heaven.

Three Minute Reflection
by Fr. Juan Velez


st-paulSelf-Denial (Part 2)

The world bids us to enjoy life as much as possible – Jesus bids us to take up our cross daily. The world promises pleasure here on earth – Jesus promises a lasting happiness that only begins in part here on earth. To this end our Lord asks us to live daily self-denial.

In the sermon Self-Denial, the Test of Religious Earnestness Blessed Newman warns us, however, not to act for worldly motives, namely, for the praise of others. According to him, to make a general profession of religion for the sake of being respected, is wrong,

“For two reasons, first, because you are in danger of doing right from motives of this world; next, because you may, perchance, be cheated of the Truth, by some ingenuity which the world puts, like counterfeit coin, in the place of the Truth.”

He explains that such persons face the danger of self-deception.

“Good behaviour is, in their case, not only a matter of duty, but of interest. If they obey God, they gain praise from men as well as from Him.”

We know that only God will judge us and that we must strive to the very end of our lives to live in his grace; yet we still need to test ourselves to see that we are going in the right direction.

Even St. Paul was not assured of his real state in life. He wrote “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” [1 Cor. ix. 27.] Without impatience and presumption we must strive with a subdued hope for God’s forgiveness and to live as his children.

The first Christians were tested by the very profession of their faith for which they suffered persecution and death. Of their suffering St. Paul wrote: “Tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience and experience hope.” [Rom. v. 3, 4.] “Henceforth let no man trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus” [Gal. vi. 17.]

But in our age, too, Christian obedience has the same character, and it is shown by self-denial. Jesus tells us, “Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” [Mark viii. 34.]

Self-denial in daily life is the chief duty and test of whether we are living as Christ’s disciples and are on our way to heaven.

In what way do we fulfill Christ’s commands? In Newman’s words can we say that we “are really and truly awake, alive, living in the day, on our road heavenwards?”



9 Comment(s)
  • Jim Baker Posted September 17, 2016 8:05 pm

    Thank you Fr. Juan. I appreciate these short reflections.

    • Fr. Juan Velez Posted September 17, 2016 8:18 pm

      Jim, thank you; I am glad to hear this. Given the numerous communications we receive the shorter reflections seem to be better.

  • Jason Lee Posted September 17, 2016 9:51 pm

    “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way.” Lk 6:26

  • joyrunr Posted September 18, 2016 1:06 am

    If persecuted the self denial of your right to protest is enough…no? To enter into his realm of injustices unanswered. A comment or defense undelivered. The very practice then if the virtue of MEEKNESS. The strength of silence.

    • Fr. Juan Velez Posted September 18, 2016 8:10 pm

      Persecution constitutes the extreme of self-denial, and as you mentions calls for the virtue of meekness. Most times, however the Christian must stand up for his rights; and practice self-denial in his work and family, in the things of every day. In the last part of the sermon Bl. Newman will refer to this.

  • Lisa Mladinich Posted September 18, 2016 2:35 pm

    I find that some kinds of self-denial come easily, but others are brutally hard. This was good for me to read, today. I need to have the faith that God’s grace is sufficient. (2 Cor 12:9)

  • Cecilia T. Gadenz Posted September 18, 2016 9:00 pm

    Good and much needed reflection! It is true that some acts of self-denial come easier, but some are harder, especially being able to keep silent when someone misunderstands you and your motives. I guess that we always have to ask ourselves the question: Am I doing this for my own glory or for God’s glory?

  • Diana Posted September 18, 2016 9:11 pm

    Thanks Fr. Juan, I love these little reflections.

    • Fr. Juan Velez Posted September 19, 2016 5:38 am

      Thank you Diana. We are working on app but this will take some time. In the mean time please encourage some friends to sign up.

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