Give of Yourself
Among all the mysteries in which the Catholic Faith is rich, none commands greater meditation than the Crucifixion. Christ is God as well as man, Christ offered Himself up to the disgrace and humiliation of Calvary's crimson Cross in order that mankind might redeem itself from the curse imposed after Adam and Eve surrendered to the serpent's seduction.
It is a matter of common sense, as well as of theology that God, being God, could have worked out mankind's redemption in any manner He chose. Why, then, the agony of the Cross? Why that pain and humiliation, that terrible hour in which all the sins of mankind tortured the dying Redeemer with a dreadfulness such as we can only faintly imagine? Why in other words, did Christ sacrifice Himself for love of us?
"The Way and The Light and The Truth" knew the value of such a sacrifice. "Lifted up," He said, "I will draw all men to Myself." When poor suffering man wants comfort, he drops on his knees at the foot of the Cross. When he is dying, his hope is with the crucified Redeemer. This, actually, is all a man need meditate on to recognize the essential value of sacrifice. Yet, paradoxically, our way of life has become such that we shrink from all forms of sacrifice. "Ease and comfort" has become spirit of our way of life. And if we wonder why life is becoming more and more complicated, less and less satisfying, it is time we consider again the all-important role of sacrifice.
Most people will agree that when a child is born, the father feels less emotion for it than does the mother. Oh, he may have pride and be filled with dreams, and he does share the mother's instinctive desire to protect that flesh of their flesh. But it is the mother who is filled with unbelievable love. Could the reason be partly because she has sacrificed so much already to bring that child into the world?
Take the same father a year later - or twenty years later. How will you measure his love? He may honestly believe himself that it's because the child has been with him all the time - that you couldn't even have a puppy that long and not love it. Then how explain the runaway fathers? The delinquent fathers? The fathers who don't know how to love? One walked the floor at night, too, prayed, when the baby was sick, that the pain be passed onto him. One dragged himself home from the office, then took a taxi job for four hours after super, that his son might have a home or go to college. The other had never learned how to sacrifice.
The unfortunate child who is allowed to enter adulthood without realizing the value of sacrifice is the one who is the real loner of this world. Some end tragically. Some "get by." Some learn enough of what the word means to settle for living by "fits and starts"- taking a job wherever they can get one, drinking heavily or taking drugs, leaning to indulgence, but forever dissatisfied with themselves and their surroundings. Many of these wonder what is wrong with them. Why? Because no one has convinced them that, while you may become great without formal education, you never achieve distinction without greatness of self. That, in turn, starts with self-discipline, which is one and the same as self-denial or sacrifice.
Since Christ commissioned His Apostles to go forth and teach all nations, the Church has understood the wonderful power of sacrifice. We abstain from meat in Lent, not because meat is sinful in Lent, but because the very act of denying ourselves will so strengthen our will that we will not easily fall into temptation, that we will say "No" on those many occasions when it would be so-ooo easy to say "Yes".
It was Theodore Roosevelt who spoke of this many years ago when he exclaimed:
"When you think of sacrifice, think that all that is good in life is reaped from sacrifice - just as the old tree must rot itself so that the new shoots may have strength."
Source: The Challenge of Suffering. Fr. J.P. Gillese