This past Advent, I attended a potluck for everyone involved in the Adoration program at our parish. Beyond just the time for food and fellowship, the coordinator had one of the Dominican brothers in the Diocese come to talk with us. As I had my toddler with me, I did not get to hear all of his talk. But, what jumped out at me and stuck in my brain was a short bit about sacrifice. He talked about how sacrifice is a means of cleansing ourselves in a quest to become holy. At least that’s what I ‘heard’ that night.
When I think about sacrifice in a Biblical sense, I envision taking the fat calf to be offered to God. Or, putting money into a collection hat as an offering. While those are definitely ways that people have offered sacrifice through the ages, there are so many more ways that we can present “a sense-perceptible gift to the Deity as an outward manifestation of our veneration for Him and with the object of attaining communion with Him.”(*from New Advent)
As a mother, I find myself making sacrifices on a daily basis. Some might be considered big, while others are small. None are what I would consider to be unique if I were to poll other mothers out there.
Giving up a career and the extra financial resources that I might bring to the family, I chose to remain at home with my sons. A few years ago, my husband and I heeded the call to also educate the boys at home. Anyone who is a homeschooling parent knows what a tremendous sacrifice this can be for the parent at home with their children. No break in the middle of the day when the older kids are at school. Instead, you spend much of your free time fine tuning the path chosen or coming up with clever retorts for those family and friends who disagree with the choices you’ve made.
Other sacrifices that come to mind, at least from my life, have been smaller. Usually it involves denying myself something in order to meet the needs or desires of someone else. And, it is in some of the small denials that I sometimes worry about draining myself. Specifically, it’s the times when I put off personal needs (e.g. a haircut or clothes) that gives me pause for whether my choice is truly bringing me closer to God.
I learned about self-denial and sacrifice from my mom. And, she is now the one saying I need to do things FOR myself at times,too. It’s just so hard to break the cycle. However, I recognize the need to refresh myself so I can be the woman God created me to be. If I am completely drained, then I will not be able to head his call and serve as the Holy Spirit nudges me to serve.
So, before I am entrenched in Lent and on a fast from spending, I’ll make sure to take time to get my hair done and visit the doctor. These are things I have put off for far too long under the guise of sacrifice at best or just trying to save a physical expense at worse. And, both are things that the family would never think about my needing to do.
The sacrifice I’m more interested in doing at the moment are ones that involve giving up my time spent in other pursuits for the ability to attend Adoration or Mass during the week. Knowing just how addictive Facebook or Pinterest can be, time lost from those venues will be a sacrifice for me. Yet, the reward from time spent with God will far outweigh the loss and in the process may help to sanctify me.
For me, that is the path for sacrificial living without exhausting my personal resources.
Growing up as one of three sisters, Laura is continually challenged as she mothers four rambunctious boys. She shares her adventure as a Catholic homeschooling mother to four boys and life up in Alaska at the family blog, Day by Day in Our World.