Walking through the streets of Rome and reading its history I am awed by the stories of the virgin martyrs who clashed with the pagans of their time. There is something that makes the sacrifice of their lives so beautiful. There are certain elements in these virgin martyrs example that I believe fulfill what a true sacrifice is.
I just read the below quote from Captive Flames by Ronald Knox that states these elements well.
“For the point of a sacrifice is that the victim should be spotless, the best of its kind. You must offer not what you can well afford to spare, but what will cost you something. The victim must be young, not old, perfect, not mutilated; pure bred, not of inferior stock: it is the fairest flower that must wither in front of the statue. That is the pagan idea of sacrifice; and the Christian idea of sacrifice is based on the same principle. In order to give up something to God, we forgo, not the sinful pleasures which we have no right to in any case, but the lawful pleasures which he has given us to enjoy if we will. And it is not broken hearts or wasted careers that produce vocations to the religious life. It is the young, the attractive, the brilliant, those who have the fullest life and the highest hopes before them, who make the perfect sacrifice when they devote themselves to Almighty God in holy religion.”
These elements of freedom, purity, having other options, this is where the beauty of a sacrifice comes from when it is done in love.
But what about a more down to earth example?
I know of women who are neither virgins nor martyrs. They are mothers. I don’t think their sacrifice is any less beautiful than that of the virgin martyrs. Take for example, when they continuously wake up in the middle of the night to tend their baby, feed it, change the diaper and accompany it back to sleep. This sacrifice is continuous, silent, full of love, costly and there were other options.
The next time you make a sacrifice, see if it’s beautiful in your eyes. If so, I am sure it will be all the more in God’s.