Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sacrifice: Now or Later, By Choice or Force?

British Catholics recently were requested to begin again the sacrifice of meatless Fridays.  I wonder how many voices would be raised in America against such a “violation of our rights” if we were requested to make the same sacrifice.  Sacrifice is something which seems to have become foreign to us.

The lights went out in my church this past Sunday morning.  The entrance hymn was still being sung as the priest stood on the altar when suddenly, the power went out.  The lights darkened and the amplifiers of the choir stopped, and the people’s squeaky voices were very much more noticeable.
And the mass went on.
Certainly, there was an opportunity here for sly comments, jokes or even instruction from the priest (which probably would be done in many parishes):  “Please sing louder,” or some such advice meant to coerce a laugh --- and disrupt the liturgy.  No such advice was given in my church, nor any jokes made.  The mass went on.  Yes, the people sang louder, the readers read louder, and the priest preached louder.  Everyone sacrificed and bore up to this inconvenience to the way they were used to things, and the way they wanted things.  They sacrificed without protest or murmuring.  They willingly did what must be done.
Could America do the same?
Sacrifice seems to be coming to America; some of its power to act will be limited in the future.  It can’t go on as it has been spending, so sacrifice will be mandatory, if nothing changes --- soon.  If we choose to sacrifice willingly, perhaps we can adjust, as we did at mass this Sunday morning.  But if we cannot choose, sacrifice will be thrust upon us anyway, perhaps in ways we cannot imagine, or adjust to.  The Greeks recently rioted in the streets when sacrifices not of their choosing were thrust upon them.  At mass Sunday, we lost lights and amplifiers.  What if, instead, we had lost our sight or our hearing?  Sacrifice thrust upon us could be more than we could imagine.  “That happened in Greece, but it can’t happen to us.  We’re Americans!”  So we may think.  But unwilling sacrifice can happen, and indeed it will happen to us, unless we can agree to sacrifice first.
And I’m afraid we may find that difficult to do.
We live in an America where it seems we don’t understand sacrifice anymore, and have much difficulty choosing it.  Men and women in the military who do choose a life of sacrifice are looked down upon by many.  We act as if sacrifice is a thing which may be for others, but not for us.  Jesus chose to sacrifice His very life, yet, as we recently saw, many of us can’t choose to accept the sacrifice of paying for a condom --- something many of us, apparently, very much want!  We think we have “rights” to anything we want, or define as our need.  We are not against sacrifice, per se, only that it not be us.
I’m afraid many of us will awaken in the not distant future, and find it indeed is us who must sacrifice, and we will be TOLD how to do so.
The coming sacrifice will not be thrust on the rich, but the poor --- the poor of heart.  And they will not understand how this could happen to them.  But we can begin to sacrifice, to learn how to bear up under difficulty, to live with less, and to give more.  It’s the example Jesus gave us.  It’s about us loving our neighbor, not expecting the government (or someone else) to it.  It’s about realizing that the good “ends” so many espouse the government doing, do not justify the “means.” 
It’s about learning and living our Catholic faith.
Archangel Michael, defender of the faith,
Defeat the evil one, who would cloud our judgment,
And cause us to seek all of our needs from a man,
And not from our God.

No comments:

Post a Comment