Why does Christ ask us to “deny ourselves?” Within Catholicism, there is a fair amount of emphasis on penance and giving things up. Using wisdom from St. John of the Cross, Dr. Sri explains why we must “deny ourselves” in order to gain what we truly desire.
Snippet from the Show
We are made for God, and so, he is the soul’s deepest desire.
In Matthew 16:24, Jesus says, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” In the Catholic faith, there is a lot of emphasis on penance, sacrifice, and fasting. Why is this? Is it wrong to desire things?
Quotation from St. John of the Cross
“In order to arrive at having pleasure in everything, desire to have pleasure in nothing. In order to arrive at the possession of everything, desire to possess nothing. In order to arrive at being all, desire to be nothing. To come to knowledge of all, desire to know nothing.”
Desire Is Good
Desire is good. Our soul’s deepest desire is God. Why there is so much emphasis on denial and fasting is so that we can empty ourselves in order to be filled by God. Denying ourselves is about creating space in our souls.
Practice self-denial. In order to accomplish true denial, we must practice. Maybe, it is about denying yourself some sort of comfort: a sweet, a glass of wine, etc. Perhaps, you can practice denial by limiting your use of electronics. There are many ways to practice self-denial, find one that fits your life.
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Dr. Edward Sri is a theologian, well-known Catholic speaker, and author of several best-selling books. His work with Ascension includes study programs such as A Biblical Walk Through the Mass, No Greater Love: A Biblical Walk Through Christ’s Passion and Mary: A Biblical Walk with the Blessed Mother. Several of Dr. Sri’s programs were filmed on-site in the Holy Land, and feature immersive video explorations of the sacred sites where Jesus, Mary, and the Apostles lived and died.
Dr. Sri is the host of the acclaimed Ascension podcast All Things Catholic with Dr. Edward Sri. Together with Curtis Martin, Dr. Sri is a founding leader of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), of which he serves as senior vice president of Apostolic Outreach.
Dr. Sri lives with his wife Beth and their children in Colorado.