AR has been musing on mortification again and I find myself doing the same. The Catechism is helpful: 2015 The way of the perfection passes by way of the Cross. There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle. Spiritual progress entails the ascesis and mortification that gradually lead to living in the peace and joy of the Beatitudes.
However there is no guide there as to how this should be achieved and in particular how it should be achieved within the married state. Some forms of mortification are just not suited to the married life. When one is sacramentally united to a partner is mortification still a personal matter or does it become a unitive matter for the couple? Extreme simplification of diet becomes a selfish act as one can't expect ones husband or children to partake. It may also lead to illness and if a bread-winner is deliberately weakening their physical state this is not a wholly charitable thing to do. Mortification through acts upon the body is also not really goer. I'd argue that your body is not your own ever, as it is the temple of the Holy Spirit. However when married, it is even less your own because with your partner you form One Body. Mortification that may leave marks upon the body is certainly not acceptable in this light.
I like simple food but DH is a fairly traditional northern male and loves a thick rump steak above all other meals. I find this far too rich and over-facing but we have them occasionally as a "treat". His luxury is almost my penance. I feel similarly about most cream cakes...
I want permanent reminding of the sacrifice of Calvary but it would be wrong to mark my body. On Fridays I often wear an extremely irritating pair of socks that ride down into my boots and leave me feeling very uncomfortable. It isn't much and I laugh at myself for doing it, but I still do it. Meatless fridays are out of the question as DH's won't do vegetarian (except on Holy Days of Obligation)and I think fish is a luxury so is banned on fridays.
I thank God for my strength and good health. I feel I'm kept in good health for a reason and I'm to use this special gift.
The 4 new saints this week were all ones who showed great devotion to the crucified Christ through mortification. None of them were married.
To conclude my musings; I'm very taken with the symbolism of the crowns worn by the Orthodox at their marriage ceremonies. Surely this is what mortification within marriage is all about?
The crowns may be a wreath of flowers or an actual crown, gold with red velvet and jewels. The crowns have several rich symbolisms. They express the creation of a new household, a "kingdom" which they are charged to rule wisely and with full responsibility to each other and to God.
The crowning is a sign of victory, just as athletes were crowned in ancient times at their triumphs. In this instance, the Bride and Groom are crowned on account of their growth as mature Christians, prepared for the responsibilities of a Christian marriage.
The crowns also represent martyrdom, sacrifice and steadfast devotion. In marriage, the couple must deny themselves and take up their cross as they relate to their spouses in building up the marriage, and to commit themselves as responsible parents to their children.