This muse lives about 3,500 miles from me, and so we do not talk very often. But, whenever I do have a conversation, this person inspires me to write.
Today, I am inspired to write about false and real sacrifices. Sometimes, people sacrifice their entire lives for a cause, or even for a person who is not worthy of that sacrifice. I think of the novel, The Remains of the Day, (and if someone would like to send it to me, I would love to read it). I only know this story from someone telling me about it, but my muse conversation today reminded me of the butler who spent his entire life wasting loyalties on someone who simply was not worth the trouble. But, the main character, Stevens, also passed up his one chance for a loving relationship.
The point is that his sacrifice was not worth the source of his decision--an unworthy employer.
My muse was pointing out to me that the British many times do not make a huge false sacrifice, like Stevens, the butler, but small, gratuitous and even symbolic gestures which may or may not redeem the person. For example, a CEO of a company, totally unhappy with his role, and wanting to avoid the evils of immoral business practices into which he has fallen, may choose to give to charity to assuage his conscience, as he is not capable of leaving his job. This is a sad compromise which lacks redemption.
Another person may "leave the manse", such as William Faulkner's character who decides that the evil in his family's past means that he must do reparation for the family.
Some people leave the family and choose a sacrificial lifestyle in order to make reparation for past sins.
Others may do token things, which they feel will bring merit upon them and their families. This could take the form of living an ascetical life in the world, or extra prayers, or others forms of sacrifice.
Some people never find themselves in an effort to break away from evil in the family tree, afraid to be what they are and redeem the time, redeem the family through the gifts and opportunities given.
The lost generation of teens and young people after the chaos of liturgical destruction following Vatican II has seen many people who were, and perhaps still are, confused about where they fit in the Church.
There is only one Real Sacrifice and that is Christ, the God-Man's sacrifice on the Cross. If He allows us to pick up a cross and follow Him, it has to be one He ordains and not one we choose.
Too often, people tell God how they are to become saints, and ignore the urgings of Divine Providence in their daily decisions or actions.
Only the sacrifices asked by God are the ones which bring merit. One can waste an entire life missing out on love and spiritual growth by insisting that God acts in one way, when He is calling a person to be open to His plan.
For all eternity, Divine Providence has determined a perfect way for each of us to live and to love.
Are we open to that way?
Do we predetermine our own way to holiness, or worse, ignore the promptings of the Holy Spirit?
Let us not meet God on the day of our particular judgment and see that we wasted opportunities for love and holiness because of our own preconceived ideas of sacrifice and redemption.
There is only one true Sacrifice to which we can join ourselves daily in the Eucharist, and that is the Sacrifice of Our Lord.