Saints' Quotes

holy quotations for purification of the soul


for reflection and meditation


'Evil is cleansed away by bloody lashes, and a scourging to the inmost being.'

Proverbs 20:30

'I scourge both flesh and spirit because I know that I have offended in both flesh and spirit.'

St. Peter Damian

'Without mortification nothing can be done.'

St. Philip Neri

'There is more security in self-denial, mortification, and other like virtues, than in an abundance of tears.'

St. Teresa of Jesus

'In all things we suffer tribulation, but are not distressed; we are straitened, but are not destitute; we suffer persecution, but are not forsaken; we are cast down, but we perish not:

Always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies.

For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake; that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our mortal flesh.'

2 Corinthians 4:8-11

'Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.

For if you live according to the flesh, you shall die: but if by the Spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live.'

Romans 8:12-13

'I say we have been given a guide. I mean the only-begotten incarnate Word, God's Son, who shows us how to walk along this road that is so well lighted. He says, you know "I am the way and truth and life. Whoever walks in me walks not in darkness but in light." He is Truth, and there is no falsehood in him.

And what road has this gentlest of teachers built? He has built a road of hatred and of love.

He so hated and despised sin that he avenged it on his own body with great pain, derision, torture, and reproach, his passion and death -- and not for himself (for the poison of sin was not in him) but only as a service to us, to satisfy for our sins. He gives us back the light of grace and relieves us of the darkness that had entered our soul because of sin.'

St. Catherine of Siena

'He who wishes to find Jesus should seek Him, not in the delights and pleasures of the world, but in mortification of the senses.'

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

'Mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth.

For you are dead; and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ shall appear, who is your life, then you also shall appear with him in glory.

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, lust, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is the service of idols.

Colossians 3:2-5

'Let us read the lives of the saints; let us consider the penances which they performed, and blush to be so effeminate and so fearful of mortifying our flesh.'

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

'. . . the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?'

Hebrews 12:6-7

'He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.'

Proverbs 22:15

'He that loveth correction, loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is foolish.'

Proverbs 12:1

'There was once a solitary who had built himself a royal palace in the trunk of an oak-tree; he had placed thorns inside of it, and he had fastened three stones over his head, so that when he raised himself or turned over he might feel the stones or the thorns.

And we, we think of nothing but finding good beds, that we may sleep at our ease.'

St. Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney, the Cure of Ars

'If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me. -- St. Matt. xvi. 24.

This is all that is necessary in order to become a follower of Jesus Christ; the denying of ourselves, and the mortifying of self-love. Do we desire to be saved? we must conquer all, to secure all. How wretched is the soul that allows itself to be guided by self-love!

Mortification is of two kinds; interior and exterior. By interior mortification the passions are conquered, and particularly that which prevails over us most. He who does not overcome his predominant passion is in great danger of being lost. On the contrary he who does overcome it, will easily conquer all the rest. Some nevertheless suffer themselves to be swayed by some particular vice, and yet think they are good persons, because they are not overcome by the same vices which they witness in others. "But what will this avail?" says St. Cyril, "a small chink is sufficient to sink the vessel." It avails nought to say: "I cannot abstain from this vice" a resolute will overcomes every thing; when it relies on God's assistance which is never wanting.'

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

'The more one mortifies his natural inclinations, the more he renders himself capable of receiving divine inspirations and of progressing in virtue.'

St. Francis de Sales

'Some subordinate their progress in perfection, which consists in denying their desires and likings out of love for God, to their own tastes and whims. So strong is this inclination that even if they are commanded by obedience to do something which is to their liking, they immediately lose their desire for it, and all interest in it, because their one desire is to do their own will.

The saints did not act this way.'

St. John of the Cross

'Be as eager to break your own will as the thirsty stag is to drink of the refreshing waters.'

St. Paul of the Cross

'I shall have nothing for my own particular use, except the crucifix I wear on my breast, my little hand-bag, the case with my sermons in, my writings, my Breviary, my Rule, my hair-shirt, my little cross with sharp points, my spectacles, my rosary, the two disciplines, the one I use at the community exercise and the one I use at my secret penances at night, a little holy picture of the Immaculate Conception, the framed picture of St. Vincent Ferrer, with which I bless the sick: this is all I shall keep for my own particular use.'

St. Leonard of Port Maurice

'For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of this death?'

Romans 7:22-24

'Be careful not to admit into your society those delicate and sensitive people who are afraid of the slightest pin-prick, who cry out and complain at the least pain, who know nothing of the hair-shirt, the discipline or other instruments of penance, and who mingle, with their fashionable devotions, a most refined fastidiousness and a most studied lack of mortification.'

St. Louis Marie de Montfort, 'Letter to Friends of the Cross'

'Exterior mortification is the conquering of the sensual appetites.

Worldlings call the saints cruel, because they deny their bodies all sensual gratifications, and afflict themselves with hair-shirts, disciplines and penances.

But St. Bernard says that those are much more cruel towards themselves, who for the sake of the momentary pleasures of this world, condemn themselves to the eternal torments of the next. Others say that the body should be denied all forbidden pleasure, but despise exterior mortifications, saying that interior mortification alone is necessary, that is, the mortification of the will. Yes, it is in the first place necessary to mortify the will, but it is also necessary to mortify the flesh; because if the flesh be not mortified, it will have great difficulty in being obedient to God.

St. John of the Cross says, that he who teaches that exterior mortification is not necessary is not to be believed, although he should perform miracles. '

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

'Our body is a vessel of corruption; it is meant for death and for the worms, nothing more! And yet we devote ourselves to satisfying it, rather than to enriching our soul, which is so great that we can conceive nothing greater -- no, nothing, nothing!'

St. Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney, the Cure of Ars

'For the wisdom of the flesh brings death, but that of the spirit brings life and peace, since the wisdom of the flesh is the enemy of God; it is not subject to God's law, nor can it be. And since the wisdom of the flesh is unable to bear the yoke of God's law, it cannot look upon it either, for its eyes are clouded with the smoke of pride.'

St. Peter Damian

'Disciplines or flagellations are a species of mortification strongly recommended by St. Francis de Sales, and universally adopted in religious Communities of both sexes.

All the modern saints, without a single exception, have continually practised this sort of penance.

It is related of St. Aloysius that he often scourged himself unto blood three times in the day. And at the point of death, not having sufficient strength to use the lash, he besought the Provincial to have him disciplined from head to foot.

Surely, then, it would not be too much for you to take the discipline once in the day, or at least three or four times in the week. However, the practice of this penance should be regulated by the confessor.'

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

'If we do not use great care to mortify our will, there are many things which can deprives us of the holy freedom of spirit that we are seeking in order to fly more freely to our Creator, without always being bogged down with the clay of this earth. Moreover, there can never be solid virtue in a soul that is attached to its own will.'

St. Teresa of Jesus

'He who gives little important to exterior mortifications, claiming that interior mortifications are more perfect, clearly shows that he is not mortified at all, exteriorly nor interiorly.'

St. Vincent de Paul

'And they took Jesus, and led him forth. And bearing his own cross, he went forth to that place which is called Calvary, but in Hebrew Golgotha.

Where they crucified him, and with him two others, one on each side, and Jesus in the midst.'

John 19:16-18

'Tell me, you who in your arrogance mock at Christ's passion, you who, in refusing to be stripped and scourged with Him, deried His nakedness and all His torments as foolish and vain things like the illusions which come to us in sleep, what will you do when you see Him who was stripped in public and hung on the Cross shining in the glory of His majesty, surrounded by the angelic host, with His immeasurable and incomparable splendor round about Him, more glorious than all things, visible or invisible? What, I say, will you do, when you behold Him for whose shame you now have nothing but scorn, seated on the fiery throne of the tribunal of Heaven, and judging the whole human race in the dreadful judgement of His justice? By what rash boldness of presumption do you hope to share in His glory, whose shame and injuries you scorned to bear?'

St. Peter Damian

'Just as one must will only what God wills in order to be a saint, so also, one must judge things as God judges them, in order to be wise. Now, then, who knows whether your opinions always conform to God's? How often have you found yourself mistaken in your judgments and decisions?'

St. Vincent de Paul

'There were two saints in the desert, who had sewed thorns into all their clothes; and we seek for nothing but comfort!'

St. Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney, the Cure of Ars

'Penance to be sure must be used as a tool, in due times and places, as need may be. If the flesh, being too strong, kicks against the spirit, penance takes the rod of discipline, and fast, and the cilice of many buds, and mighty vigils; and places burdens enough on the flesh, that it may be more subdued. But if the body is weak, fallen into illness, the rule of discretion does not approve of such a method.'

St. Catherine of Siena

'You are well aware, dearly beloved, that the discipline of flagellation practise so fervently can be harmful if used without discretion, just as it is profitable in moderation. Because of this the strength of your weary bodies fails, and sometimes, as some believe, worn out by so many blows they fall ill, especially since some of you will recite the whole Psalter once or even twice, scourging yourselves throughout. And so it happens that some brethren who wish to enter the hermitage, hearing such tales, are deterred by fear from so doing. Wherefore, showing a measure of discretion, we have decreed that no one in the hermitage shall be compelled to use the discipline; and if holy zeal urges anyone to this, he is permitted to scourge himself for the course of forty psalms, and no more, in any one day. By doing this we are not depriving you of any good, but pruning away what is unnecessary.'

St. Peter Damian

'Where there is no great mortification there is no great sanctity.'

St. Philip Neri

'As regards other mortifications I know, from a person in whom he placed the greatest confidence, that our Blessed Founder often took the discipline, and rose in the middle of the night to do so, that no one might hear him; and that he often increased the severity of this penance that he might obtain from Our Lord, for some soul in his charge, the grace of final perseverance.

He scarcely ever warmed himself at the fire, but endured the extremes of cold and heat without complaining. During the last winter of his life, I have heard his servants say, that he would have none of the good clothes of which he stood in need, and was very insufficiently clad through that exceptionally bitter and inclement season. It was then that, in obedience to the summons of the Cardinal of Savoy, he set out for Avignon, on board a Rhone boat. The north wind blew keenly over the water, but he would not put on his cloak, however much he was urged to do so, and one of his chaplains who saw this told me that he did not know what to think of it, and could only imagine that this Blessed Father wished to inflict suffering on his body. He did suffer exceedingly during this journey, being, as he was, already overwhelmed with the pain and weakness of a mortal disease.

In short, he mortified himself in every possible way, according to the opportunities which offered themselves for so doing, but in so secret and careful a manner that it was difficult, except for those who watched him very closely, to discover it.

He used to say that even trifling sufferings gave opportunities for the most useful mortifications; and for this reason he bore most patiently with the stings of flies, great and small, which would settle on his head, and even draw blood. He endured all kinds of bodily discomforts without a complaint, and without showing the slightest repugnance to them, receiving all from the hand of God.'

St. Jane Frances de Chantal, of St. Francis de Sales

'First. -- It is necessary to mortify the eyes. The first darts which strike and often kill the soul, enter through the eyes. The eyes are like infernal hooks which drag persons as it were by force into sin. A certain gentile philosopher, to rid himself of impurity voluntarily put out his eyes. It is not lawful however for us to pluck out our eyes; but we must blind ourselves by means of holy mortification; otherwise it will be difficult for us to keep ourselves chaste. St. Francis of Sales says: "He" who would keep the enemy from entering into "the fortress must close the gates." It is necessary therefore that we should close our eyes from looking on any object calculated to excite temptations. St. Aloysius, did not dare to cast his eyes even on the face of his own mother. And whenever our eyes accidentally light upon any dangerous object, we must be careful not to look again: "It is not so much looking," says the same St. Francis of Sales, "as looking again that is the "cause of ruin to the soul." Let us, therefore, be most careful to mortify the eyes, for many on account of not having kept guard over their eyes are now burning in hell.

Secondly. -- It is necessary to mortify the tongue by abstaining from detraction, injurious or obscene words. One obscene word spoken in conversation, even in jest, may be the cause of scandal and of thousands of sins. And sometimes a word of double meaning does more harm than one decidedly impure.

Thirdly. -- It is necessary to mortify the appetite. St. Andrew Avellino says, that to begin to live a Christian life, a person must begin to mortify his appetite. Many because they live merely to eat, ruin both soul aud body. For the most part, diseases are occasioned by excess in eating and drinking. But the worst is, that intemperance is frequently the cause of incontinence. Cassian says, that he who is filled with exciting food and beverage cannot fail to experience many impure temptations. "What then," some one will say, "must we not eat?" You must eat to preserve life, but you must act as a man, and not like a brute. Particularly, if you wish not to be molested with impure temptations, abstain from too great a quantity of food and from too much wine. The scripture says: Give not wine to kings. Prov. xxxi. 4. By kings is here understood those who subject their senses to reason. Much wine destroys reason, and not only brings with it the sin of drunkenness, which is certainly a mortal sin, but also that of impurity. And let it not be displeasing to you to fast or abstain now and then, particularly on a Saturday in honour of the most holy Mary. Many have done so on bread and water; which would be very proper on the vigils of the seven principal feasts of the Blessed Virgin. At least, I beseech you, observe the fasts of obligation.

Fourthly. -- It is necessary to mortify the ears and the hands: the ears, by never listening to immodest discourses or detraction; the hands, by taking care to use them with all caution, and a great horror of all sensuality. Some pretend to be exempt from sin, because they are only in jest; but who, I ask, ever sets himself to play with fire?'

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

'He who does not mortify his palate will neither know how to mortify his flesh.'

St. Paul of the Cross

'Oh, how I like those little mortifications that are seen by nobody, such as rising a quarter of an hour sooner, rising for a little while in the night to pray!'

St. Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney, the Cure of Ars

'Some persons are so inclined to mortify themselves that at every opportunity they have, they do so. What a beautiful practice this is, and how profitable!'

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez

'We hold our tongues in check because if they are undisciplined they empty the soul of the strength of heavenly grace, and weaken its healthful vigour.'

St. Peter Damian

'Without a doubt, one of the things which keeps us from attaining perfection is our tongue. When one has reached the point of no longer committing faults in speech, he has surely reached perfection, as was said by the Holy Spirit. The worst defect in talking is talking too much. Hence, in speech be brief and virtuous, brief and gentle, brief and simple, brief and charitable, brief and amiable.'

St. Francis de Sales

'It is a common teaching of the Saints that one of the principal means of leading a good and exemplary life is certainly modesty and the mortification of the eyes. Just as there is nothing better than modesty to preserve devotion in a soul and to edify one's neighbor, so too, there is nothing worse than immodesty and licentious glances to expose a person to the danger of becoming lax and loose in morals.'

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez

'Never relax, for you will not attain to the possession of true spiritual delights if first you do not learn to deny your every desire.'

St. John of the Cross

'Even though one is well advanced in virtue, should he stop mortifying himself, he soon would lose his modesty and virtue -- just as fertile soul quickly becomes dry and arid and produces nothing but thorns and thistles if it is not cultivated.'

St. John Climacus

'We give our youth to the devil, and the remains of our life to the Good God, who is so good that He deigns to be content with even that. . . but, happily, everyone does not do so. A great lady has been here, of one of the first families in France; she went away this morning. She is scarcely three-and-twenty, and she is rich-very rich indeed. . . She has offered herself in sacrifice to the good God for the expiation of sins, and for the conversion of sinners. She wears a girdle all armed with iron points; she mortifies herself in a thousand ways; and her parents know nothing of it. She is white as a sheet of paper. Hers is a beautiful soul, very pleasing to the good God, such as are still to be found now and then in the world, and they prevent the world from coming to an end.'

St. Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney, the Cure of Ars