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Sacrificing for Others

By Barbara Kralis

©Barbara Kralis 2004
Catholic Online

Sac•ri•fice, n. the surrender or destruction of something valued for the sake of something else.

Suicide or killing oneself is the evil of despair and the loss of hope. In contrast, self-sacrifice for someone else is a sign of hope, and an act of generosity and love.

The two opposing actions, killing versus self-sacrificing, produce opposing results – despair versus hope, fear versus trust, indifference versus love.

Nothing can compare with the ultimate sacrifice of Christ.

In fact, the following splendid reality requires more than a moment of your time. Its richness will last a lifetime of meditations. And the reality is this:

St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that Jesus Christ in His life and in His Calvary offered infinitely more to God than was demanded as just compensation for the offences committed by mankind.

This is so because of three facts: 1) the infinite degree of His willingness to suffer for us; 2) His greatness of love for us; and 3) the enormity of the pain that He suffered for the Redemption of mankind. [1]

Our peanut-sized minds cannot begin to imagine the magnitude of this reality - of how complete was His suffering.

In fact, so perfect was Christ’s willing and loving Sacrifice that it made infinite satisfaction for the sins of men for all times, from the beginning of time to the end of time. The Church has always taught this inconceivable truth. [2]

Nothing has been or ever will be so pleasing to God as the sacrifice of Christ for our Salvation. [3]

Mysteriously, we all can participate in these infinite merits of Christ. It does not matter if we remain hidden in the anonymity our homes, doing ordinary things day after day.

Some of the greatest Saints remained hidden for most of their sacrificial lives.

God sets great store by those who struggle for sanctity, no matter what their life’s work is. Moreover, those who sacrifice and struggle sustain the entire world by their merits.

If we offer our sacrifices for others, God then pours out His mercy and forgiveness upon those who may have done nothing themselves to merit it.

This is called the ‘Treasury of Merits,’ or the ‘Treasury of Satisfactions of the Church.’

This is where the superabundant merits and satisfactions of Christ are stored, which were beyond the needs of our salvation and to which are added the excess of merits and satisfactions of our Lady and the Saints. It is from this treasury that the Church grants indulgences.

God needs holy men and women in all times, and St. Paul calls them, “Lights in the World,” [4]

One such ‘light’ in our modern time was Saint Maximilian Kolbe who made the ultimate sacrifice for Francis Gajowniczek.

On July 13, 1941 (an important Fatima date), one of the prisoners escaped from Block 14. As a punishment, ten prisoners from the same block were immediately picked at random to die by starvation.

Suddenly, among the ten condemned men just chosen, a sob broke out, “O God, my wife and my children!”

A remarkable thing happened. Another prisoner, No. 16670, head shaved, dressed in striped torn rags and watching with great compassion nearby, stepped forward and walked bravely toward the commandant.

“Stek! Was ist los?” (What does this swinish beast want?)

“I want to take the place of one of the condemned. I am a single man and he (pointing to the man weeping) has a wife and children who need him…”

“What is your profession?”

“I am a Catholic priest.”

“I agree. Go stand in line.”

A moment of silence…The Immaculata kept her word: the two crowns, a white one and a red one, which she revealed in an apparition to Father Maximilian Kolbe in his childhood, now have become a reality.

“Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (RSV-Jn.15:13).

The ten condemned marched to Death Block 13 where Father Kolbe and the nine other men would spend their last days in agony. Completely stripped naked, they were shoved into their death cells without food or a drop of water to await their inevitable starvation.

Days passed slowly…the echo of Father Kolbe’s constant prayers ...

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