“Sacrifice, to be real, must cost, must hurt, must empty us of ourselves.” – Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Over the past four years, along with thousands of fellow Christians, I have combed through the pages of some of the most profound books ever written on Catholic spirituality (check out our book club at spiritualdirection.com). During that time, my soul has been awash with gallons of words, some more palatable than others. Much to my chagrin, the most common word in all those great works has by far been the most difficult to ingest – its sticking power gnawing at my insides in the most inopportune moments – whenever I want to splurge on a new book, or when I’m dying to eat that last piece of cake, or when my son asks me to iron his forgotten school shirt at 11:30pm, or when I just sit down to read and the dog starts barking at the door.
That word is…Sacrifice.
An all-American, consumption-loving girl at heart, I’ve been doing my best to ignore this little word as it nibbles ceaselessly at my core; but try as I might, it’s not working.
It’s one of those words that inspires from afar; but most of us don’t want to get too close. There is a love-hate relationship with the notion of sacrifice that is unlike that of any other subject. We admire those who make great sacrifices, but most of us have become virtually unwilling to get into the mire and muck of pain and self-denial necessary to get the job done.
You see, in our culture, SACRIFICE is a dirty word.
The thing is, throughout my reading I have discovered that sacrifice is a theme that gets to the heart of all blossoming relationships. It is a theme that would have been obvious to any of the saints to whom we look for inspiration. It is a theme that was perhaps taken for granted even a hundred years ago. But it has long since been left in the dust, smited by the philosophy of individualism that has taken us from a freedom to do good, to a belief in license to do whatever we want, despite foreseeable consequences to those around us. We have become a society grounded in “ME.” And any society grounded in ME is bound to have members who recklessly trample each other to destruction. Even our definition of LOVE has come to represent ME. It is all about my FEELINGS. And when my FEELINGS no longer exist, then LOVE is gone and I am obligated to find MY fulfillment elsewhere.
Interestingly enough, in the history of the Church, love has never been bound up with feelings. And it has never been about ME. Rather, since Our Lord came into this world over 2,000 years ago as Love incarnate, ultimately laying down His life for each and every one of us, love has always been a verb – a verb inextricably intertwined with SACRIFICE.
Hence this blog. Let’s start a conversation about sacrifice. Not a complaining, frustrated conversation. A positive, life-changing conversation. About sacrifice in our country; sacrifice in our homes; but mostly, about sacrifice in our thoughts and in our words, in what we do (not what we fail to do). Let’s have a conversation about offering all to a God who has given all to us. If each of us takes even a step in the right direction, imagine what a change we could effect on the world.
Will you join me?
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