Presence of God— O Jesus, immolated for my salvation, make me worthy to immolate myself with You for the salvation of souls.
Apostolic prayer must be accompanied by sacrifice, as we learn from the prayer which Jesus made to His Father in the Garden of Olives and on the Cross. Love should urge those who pray to “active sacrifice which does not allow them to rest calmly in prayer as long as pain and suffering have not all but reached the limits of endurance. Then, consumed by the ardor of charity and the vehemence of desire, they are no longer persons who pray but living prayers” (Pius XII, January 17, 1943). There is a close connection between prayer and sacrifice, since they both flow from one source: love, which spurs the soul on to prayer and incessant immolation for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. The contemplative life, therefore, is synonymous with an austere, penitential life; it is a continual “sacrifice of praise.” The more prayer is nourished and accompanied by sacrifice, the more efficacious it becomes; indeed, it attains its maximum efficacy when sacrifice is total.
Every contemplative soul should be “an altar worthy of the presence of His Majesty” (John of the Cross. Ascent of Mount Carmel: I, 5,7), an altar from which prayer rises, and on which the sacrifice is immolated. The apostolate of Jesus reached its climax and was consummated in the annihilation of death on the Cross; not until He had been scourged, pierced with nails, abandoned by God and man, could He say, “Consummatum est,” it is consummated (Jn 19:30). It will be the same with us; only when we have really sacrificed ourselves for souls, when we have willingly immolated ourselves with Jesus for their salvation, shall we be able to repeat with Him: “It is consummated.” Our participation in the apostolate of Jesus attains its fulfillment in the sacrifice of ourselves–not an imaginary, hypothetical sacrifice, but one that is real and concrete. The form and measure of this sacrifice will be made known to us by God Himself, through the circumstances of our life, the events permitted by His divine Providence, the orders of our superiors, and the duties of our state in life. When, for the salvation of souls, we are disposed to live in continual sacrifice of our own will, in continual renouncement of self; when we are disposed to let ourselves be crucified in whatever way the holy will of God ordains, in order to win other souls to His love, then we shall have reached the apex of the apostolate and hence of apostolic fruitfulness.
“Lord, my heart rejoices when I consider that You have deigned to associate me to the great work of Redemption, that in me You may undergo, as it were, an extension of Your Passion. You have taken me, and You will that I be as another humanity in which You can still suffer for Your Father’s glory and for the needs of Your Church.
“How glad I should be, my adored Master, if You asked me also to shed my blood for You. But what I ask of You, above all, is that martyrdom of love that consumed the saints…. Since You … have said that the greatest proof of love is to give one’s life for the one loved, I give You mine, to do with it as may please You; and if I am not a martyr unto blood, I want to be a martyr by love.
“How I rejoice when I think that from all eternity we were known by the Father, and that He wished to find Your image in us, O Crucified Christ! How necessary suffering is then, if Your work is to be accomplished in me! You desire to enrich me with Your graces, but it is I who set a limit to Your gift, and determine its measure by the generosity with which I let myself be immolated by You.
“O Lord, You called the hour of Your Passion ‘Your hour,’ the hour for which You had come, the hour You welcomed with all Your desires. When a great or even a very small sacrifice presents itself to me, I want to think quickly that this is ‘my hour,’ the hour in which I can give a proof of my love to You, who have loved me ‘exceedingly’” (Elisabeth of the Trinity, Letters).
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Art:, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.