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Shawn Burns wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • Is it OK for a lay Catholic to wear a hair shirt as a form of mortification?

I noticed that the internet seems to have priests and others lining up on both sides of the fence on this issue.

I understand that the Church does not want anyone to do anything to jeopardize their health yet fasting as a form of mortification can be very dangerous depending on the person and how far they take it.

I am interested in using a hair shirt as a short form of mortification. If I developed a rash or an allergy, I would quit but it seems to me a reasonable form of penance with little health risk as compared to fasting.


  { Is it OK for a lay Catholic to wear a hair shirt as a form of mortification? }

Eric replied:


There are no official rules on this. In my opinion, it a judgment call that's best handled by your spiritual director, spiritual father, or Confessor.

If you are pursuing the spiritual life that seriously, it's important to put yourself under the spiritual care and guidance of another who can get to know you and keep you on track.

Just as the law requires a doctor's prescription for powerful drugs, so powerful penances like this, should have the prescription of a priest who has examined you and diagnosed your needs.

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