Friday, October 14, 2011

Sacrifice and Happiness (From "The City of God" by St. Augustine)

 This quote from St. Augustine strikes me today because it defines so clearly that sacrifice, or true religious worship, is not simply about doing good to others because doing good to others is so good. I mean, God is not up in heaven issuing his primary directive into our lives thus: "Now kids, get along together; play nice and share." That's not what He's about in the first place. That's what He about in the second place. The first place is our ultimate end, and the absolute only thing that brings happiness to us: union with God. No amount of do-gooding, or riding the "Good Ship Fellowship" will ever make us happy. Only our hearts covenanted to the Blessed Trinity will make us happy. Therefore, let every movement of our lives "effect" that in us.

Every work that effects our union with God in a holy fellowship is a true sacrifice; every work, that is, which is referred to that final end, that ultimate good, by which we are able to be in the true sense happy. As a consequence even that mercy by which aid is given to man is not a sacrifice unless it is done for the sake of God. Sacrifice, though performed or offered by man, is something divine; that is why the ancient Latins gave it this name of "sacrifice," of something sacred. Man himself, consecrated in the name of God and vowed to God, is therefore a sacrifice insofar as he dies to the world in order to live for God. This too is part of mercy, the mercy that each one has for himself. Scripture tells us: Have mercy on your soul by pleasing God.

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