Ordained to Sacrifice . . .Sacrifice and Vocations


Every vocation is born of sacrifice, is maintained by sacrifice, and is measured in the apostolate by the sacrifice of those whom God calls to the priesthood or the religious life. This should not be surprising, once we realize that it was by His sacrifice that Christ redeemed the world. The servant is not greater than his Master. In fact, the more intimate one’s vocation to the service of Christ, the more demanding will be the sacrifices required.

Barring an extraordinary grace from God, He generally calls those persons to follow Him as priests or religious who have been taught the value of sacrifice from childhood. The experience of self-denial in the use and enjoyment of material things is the normal predisposition for a lifetime practice of evangelical poverty. Training in self-control of the senses, especially in the use of the media, is the ordinary preparation for a lifelong dedication to consecrated chastity. Careful and loving nurture in self-denial, almost from infancy, is God's usual way of conditioning the human will for commitment to the counsel of obedience.

If sacrifice in childhood and young adulthood is the seedbed of vocations, continued fidelity in serving the Church is impossible without the habit of self-surrender. There are many reasons for the tragic loss of so many once-dedicated persons in affluent countries like America. But surely one of these reasons is the prior loss of a willingness to give in to the sometimes hard demands of Christ's love. We may, therefore, say that vocations are nourished on sacrifice as the body is sustained on food. Or, as the Savior told His followers — and bade them follow His example — "My food is to do the will of him who sent me" (Jn. 4:34).

Sacrifice is, finally, the condition and norm of apostolic work in the priesthood and religious life. Who have been the great achievers in the vineyard of the Lord over the centuries? Have they not been the men and women who never said "enough" in their zeal for souls; who labored, like St. Paul, in season and out of season, selflessly and exhaustingly; who never counted the cost in time or effort or personal preference; in a word, who lived lives of heroic sacrifice?

All of this is common knowledge for those who have come to know Christ who, "having joy set before Him, chose the Cross." But this kind of knowledge needs to be taught — and learned — if the vocations which the Church so desperately needs are to be fostered and preserved in our day.




Fr. John Hardon, S.J. "Ordained to Sacrifice . . .Sacrifice and Vocations." Institute on Religious Life.

Used with permission by Institute on Religious Life, P.O. Box 41007, Chicago, IL 60641.

Fr. Hardon's outstanding books, audiotapes, and catechisms are available through Eternal Life, P.O. Box 787, Bardstown, KY 40004; (800) 842 2871; fax (502) 348-2224; or by calling Benedictus Books toll-free at (888) 316-2640.


Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. (1914-2000) was a tireless apostle of the Catholic faith. The author of over twenty-five books including Catholic Prayer Book, The Catholic Catechism, Modern Catholic Dictionary, Pocket Catholic Dictionary, Pocket Catholi Catechism, Q & A Catholic Catechism, Treasury of Catholic Wisdom, Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan and many other Catholic books and hundreds of articles, Father Hardon was a close associate and advisor of Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, and Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity. Order Father Hardon's home study courses here.

Copyright © 1984 Institute on Religious Life

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