|St Michael Archangel fighting Satan|
We have forgotten the value of sacrifice in God's eyes. Most of the time we flee from anything that presents the slightest discomfort to us. When it's too cold we put the heating on; when the food is tasteless we put some salt on it; when the tea is not sweet enough we put sugar in it, and so on. When we cannot change something and it is absolutely inevitable to suffer, then there is always the last resource: complain about it, and make sure that everybody around me knows about my suffering.
Even some Catholics who make sacrifices think of choosing an aspect of their lives in which they make it. Often these mortifications are related to eating habits (or bad habits one wants to get rid of), because you can kill two birds with one stone, you know. It is never harmful to lose a few pounds while you strengthen your spiritual muscles. WRONG!
The real sacrifices are right there in front of my eyes every day, and I don't need to plan out a diet to make a sacrifice. How about just not complaining about the weather or the food? How about just doing my duties as a parent or at work with diligence without looking for easy solutions or shortcuts?
Does not the devil want us to have everything our way? How better can we prepare ourselves to enter the narrow gate if not by pruning ourselves and our desires, which tend to place us always at the centre. The person that makes a sacrifice and offers it to God places him in the centre instead of himself. There is no better way of preparing to resist temptation and to keep Satan away then the Sacraments, prayer and sacrifices.
My daughter's was a great example of a simple little sacrifice we can all make, and are called to make every day. There is a virtually infinite number, but here are some concrete ones just in case you need some ideas:
- Wake up a few minutes early and spend that time in prayer
- Give my full attention to my wife or children when they want to speak with me during my 'me time'
- Offer to do the dishes after meal
- Make a positive comment about someone I don't get along with at work
- Make a visit to a church or chapel when I walk by next time
- Next time you are at mass pay attention and be fully present
There is a great blog about Fr William Doyle, an Irish Jesuit priest, who also served as a chaplain in World War I, and who lived an extraordinary ascetic life. His many writings reveal how sacrifice and self-conquering can lead to spiritual perfection.