"They, who are of Christ, have crucified their flesh, with the vices and concupiscence's" (Gal. v. 24)
St. Dominic well knew that without the spirit of prayer and mortification all his works would be in vain. From his childhood, therefore, he was a model of mortification. Though most innocent, he longed to suffer with Jesus and to weep for the sins of others, in imitation of his Blessed Lord.
His penances were most rigorous. At all times gentle to others, he spared himself neither sleeping nor waking. Day and night he girded himself with an iron chain. His fasts, most severe in themselves were continued until death. During his journeys on foot he suffered much. Even when wearied nature obliged him to take some repose, it was hard stones or leaning against the altar steps, that he reclined his exhausted body. Whole nights he passed in the church; never did he posses a bed or room which could be called his own. Whenever he did not remain in the church, he gladly accepted whatever accomodations the brethren had prepared for him. Ever a most faithful observer of the rule of his Order, he was likewise careful that his followers should also adhere to it. Hence he always rebuked any infractions of the constitutions; but so gentle and affectionate was his manner, that penance coming from his hands, almost ceased to be a penance. As his life was one of charity for his neighbor, so was it one of mortification for his neighbor's sins.
Am I convinced, with St. Dominic, that there is no sanctity possible without mortification? He was most innocent; I have often offended God. How then can I hesitate to walk in his steps? Have I ever vigorously attacked my passions? What is my prevailing weakness? Am I strong to overcome it? Do I not rather hesitate at the first sting of mortification, and is not the shadow of the cross sufficient to frighten me? How often have I tried to justify my cowardice! How often have I drowned the reproaches of my conscience by the din of worldly pleasures! Can I not accuse myself of duty neglected simply because duty was irksome? I have forgotten God. I have not thought of the many offences which others commit against Him. Even my own sins I have sought to palliate instead of doing a rigorous and continued penance for them. Thus do I find that I have not as yet made the first step in the way of perfect virtue. Assist me, great St. Dominic! Animate my courage that I may not falter in walking after thee.