A LIFE OF PENANCE
After she entered the Third Order, Margaret became inflamed with the love of God and drastically increased her mortifications, for she wished to follow step by step her suffering Savior.
She slept on the bare ground, with a stone or a piece of wood as a pillow. Her food was a slice of bread, some almonds or nuts, and raw vegetables. She drank nothing but water. She mastered and enslaved her body. By means of rough haircloths and bloody scourgings, she made it expiate in pain its past sins. She spent her nights almost without sleep, giving them over to prayer and contemplation, lacerating her heart by recalling her own sins and the sorrowful Passion of Our Lord. At times she wept and sighed and sobbed so violently that her suffering nearly ended her life.
Her confessor obliged her to moderate her zeal. Otherwise she would have mutilated her face in order to wipe out the last traces of that beauty which had formerly been a fatal menace to souls.
Speaking to her weakened body, she spurred it on, saying: "O my body, why don't you help me to serve your Creator and Redeemer? Why don't you bring to fulfilling His will as much eagerness as you used to have in offending Him?" Then, speaking to God: "My Lord and my King, the glory of the blessed and the grace of the predestined, in memory of the bitter chalice which Thou didst drink for me, not only do I want to go without bodily nourishment, but if it were possible I would even want to die for Thee a thousand times every day."
At the beginning of her conversion, when her confessor urged her to moderate her mortifications, she said to him:
"Father, there can no longer be any peace between my soul and my body. Let me treat it as an irreconcilable enemy. And don't pay any attention to its protests. It did not complain when it used to live in comfort! It overcame me I am going to overcome it!"
Christ Himself had ordered this severity against her body when He said to her: "If you want to follow in My steps, you must break this body which aroused My anger, and you must treat it like the chaff from which the wheat is separated." . . . "When through abstinence your body will be quite exhausted and you will have lost all taste, then I will give you delicious nourishment."
And when she was so weak she could hardly speak and yet accused her body of playing sick, He said: "My daughter, Christians and those who serve Me cannot achieve perfection on this earth without controlling the vice of gluttony; for without selfdenial in drinking and eating it is not possible to put out the flames of the flesh, and those persons feel these flames more who reject the remedy of selfdenial."
Margaret's penance lasted all her life. She constantly used her ingenuity to invent new mortifications in order to overcome her body.
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