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hair shirt QUESTION from Michael September 18, 2000 In reading the lives of the saints, one sees that many used hair shirts as a form of mortification. Has the Church said anything recently about their use? If someone gets the approval of his spiritual director would he be allowed to wear one? If so, where would he go about finding a hair shirt? Thank you and God bless.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, O.L.S.M. on November 20, 2000 Dear Mr. Michael:
The saints teach that obedience is more pleasing to Jesus than our mortification.
In fact one of the greatest stories of this is in the Diaries of Sister Faustina.
One day when Jesus appeared to Sister Faustina, He asked her to wear a hair shirt for mortification. Since Faustina was under obedience to Mother Superior she has to ask permission of Mother. The Mother Superior knew that Jesus Himself had requested this of Faustina, but nevertheless refused permission.
Sister Faustina went back to Jesus and told Him that she could not fulfill His wishes because she had not the permission of Mother Superior.
Jesus smiled at Sister Faustina and told her, you obedience is more pleasing to me that your mortification.
This is not to say that we should not practice mortification. We should. But as to the severe forms of mortification such as a hair shirt, or self flagellation, and such, the wisdom of the Saints advises that NO ONE should attempt such mortifications unless they have permission from their spiritual directors.
As to where to get one if your spiritual director ok's it, I have no idea. It might have to be custom made.
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