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Sacrifice and the Mystical Body of Christ

May 2, 2017 by  
Filed under Book Club, Vicki Burbach

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Sacrifice and the Mystical Body of Christ

Our Lady of Fatima (Week 6 of 8)

“Did she tell you to pray for the conversion of sinners?”

“No. She told me to pray to the Lady of the Rosary so that the war would end.” Lucia explained later that the Lady had asked for sacrifices rather than prayers for the conversion of sinners.” — Our Lady of Fatima ( Words between an investigator and Lucia); Chapter VIII, p. 133

Sacrifice. There's something we don’t hear about often enough these days. Perhaps it's the proliferation of the health and wealth gospel; maybe it’s the microwave culture of immediate gratification and the all-American motto of bigger, better, faster. But the idea that we might be called to sacrifice has fallen on hard times.

How do we get that back? The idea that sacrifice is, in fact, good? Call it melodramatic, but it could be that the salvation of the world actually depends on it. Rather than falling by the wayside, sacrifice should be front and center in both our thoughts and our actions. After all, isn't our Faith all about sacrifice? What is our greatest calling in life if not to unite our will to the Father’s Will?

The whole science of the saints consists in knowing and following the will of God. – St. Isidore of Seville

If uniting our wills daily to that of our Heavenly Father is not a life of sacrifice, I don’t know what is! After all, giving up our own whims in favor of the Divine Providence is quite a tall order. And yet, we are called to do exactly that. We are called to sacrifice our very lives for God – just as His Son sacrificed His own life for our salvation.

But what do those sacrifices look like in our daily lives? How do we offer our lives to God each and every day? Well, sacrifice can include everything from denying ourselves that coveted cup of coffee in the morning to wearing hair shirts as have so many saints or even the homemade versions worn by Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta. It can mean sleeping on a wooden plank bed like Saint Francis of Assisi or whipping oneself like Saint Catherine of Sienna. Or it can mean fasting one day each week.

OR…it might mean something that sounds much simpler, and yet may be much more challenging than any of the above.

With God in America offers wisdom directly from Fr. Walter Ciszek, an American priest who spent 23 years imprisoned in the Soviet Union. This book contains the transcripts of countless speeches and unpublished works of this holy man upon his return to America in 1963. He had a lot to say about daily sacrifices and our responsibility as part of the Mystical Body of Christ. His words offer insight into the conversion of sinners.

Are you looking for a direct link between your sacrifices and the conversation of sinners? Here’s where sacrifice really hurts – and where it can have by far the greatest impact on the world:

At this very moment, though you cannot feel him, or see him, or touch him, his life throbs vibrantly in your life, in your soul, in your heart. The things you touch, he touches. The things you look upon, he looks upon; the words you speak, he speaks; he is with you in everything you do, except sin. You so-called ordinary weak human beings, you are Christ bearers to a world. The scientists say that we are but a speck, an infinitesimally tiny speck in this tremendous universe of ours. But tiny, insignificant though we may be compared to the universe, in the eyes of Almighty God we are the greatest, most marvelous, most sacred work of his hands, for we — you and I — carry his Son in our lives. We are Christ bearers…

…You see, it isn’t true to say, as so many spiritual writers seem to say, that Christ does not need us to save the world. He does need us. He needs you and me — our bodies, our lives, our hearts, our souls, and our love — to live among men today, to save those men by his healing, holy presence. He needs to touch the world with your hands and walk the world with your feet and look upon the world with your eyes, and talk to the world with your lips, and love the world with your hearts, and save the world again today in you and with you, and because of you

…It is a startling and frightening thing to realize that people will not touch Christ in us unless we are sincerely seeking holiness in our daily lives. Every deliberate venial sin, every act of pettiness or nasty meanness or lack of charity hides Christ’s presence within us. Every angry look, every angry word, muffles the voice of Christ within us…

…It is a task that will demand great sacrifices in your daily lives. But if you love the world you live in, if a great pity wells up in your hearts for the people of the world who are living a sinful, bitter, cynical, humdrum, boring existence because they do not know Christ, then you will take up this task joyfully and willingly, out of love for the souls he loved even to the death of the Cross.

So much more challenging than giving up a cup of coffee. But definitely something to keep in mind in everything we do today. We are Christ bearers – we are his hands and feet in the world. Are we drawing people to him, or are we pushing them away?

Just think of the power you have with every step, every look, every word, every touch. What are you going to do with that power today? Will you demand? Will you take? Will you grumble? Will you groan?

Or will you offer? Will you give? Will you comfort? Will you encourage? Will you sacrifice?

Reading Assignment:

Read Chapters 15-16

Discussion Questions:

1.What are some suggestions for offering those daily sacrifices from moment to moment? Particularly when stress levels or stakes are high?

2. Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!

 

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For More Information on the Book Club:  http://spiritualdirection.com/csd-book-club

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About Vicki Burbach

Vicki Burbach is a wife and homeschooling mother of six children ages four to sixteen years who relishes the calm inspiration of spiritual reading amidst the roller coaster of life. A passionate convert to the Faith, Vicki is an avid reader who started the SpiritualDirection.com book club so she could embark with like-minded bibliophiles on a spiritual journey through some of the greatest Catholic books ever written. She is author of the new book How to Read Your Way to Heaven - A Spiritual Reading Program for the Worst of Sinners, the Greatest of Saints, and Everyone in Between. You can also find her at pelicansbreast.com

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  • Margaret Munck

    Dear Vickie That is a most beautifully put way of sacrifice. I read Fr. Ciszek’s book, “With God in Russia, ” several years ago. It was shocking to me at the time. Fortunately I later met one of his followers who gave me a picture and a lock of his hair. I look at him and ask, “How am I doing father?” He has a lovely smile. Thank you for posting this article.

    God bless you

    • Vicki

      Wow – you must feel so blessed! I haven’t yet read “With God in Russia”, but Fr. Ciszek’s book, “He Leadeth Me” is one of my favorites! So much wisdom to be gained from this man!

      • Margaret Munck

        Yes “He Leadith me was actually my first book of his. “

  • Anneli Sinkko

    When I had to spend a long time in hospital I was meditating on words of Paul: ‘I am crucified with Christ’. And I felt that I could not say these words with the conviction Paul displayed. But then on my sickbed I met my Lord Jesus and he asked me to write a book; a book how I have met him and how my life was and is changed because of him. So when I came home I wrote that book. It is now with publishers and I don’t know what will happen to it – perhaps they don’t accept it … but then I thought – that is out of my hands and now it is in the hands of my Lord.

  • Valerie Saldanha

    I liked this article by for its clarity.

    I read the book ‘He Leadeth Me’ by fr. Walter Cizsek some years ago and recently saw a program on EWTN that showed how this priest’s sacrifices have made the church in Russia flourish in all age groups, with the seminaries too overflowing. The program reported that when the churches were closed by the govt. people went to the cemetery to pray at fr. Walter Cizek’s grave and also made their confessions to him there.

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