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85. Exterior Acts of Religion: Sacrifice

1. The offering of sacrifice to God is anobligation laid on man by the natural law. Reason requires that manshow signs of submission to God, as well as signs of honor paid toGod. Now, man is a bodily being in a bodily world; it is reasonablethat he should make the necessary signs of religion in a bodilyway, using bodily things. This is done by offering sacrifice. Thewhole history of mankind shows that the offering of sacrifice is auniversal practice. This fact confirms the truth mentioned, namely,that sacrifice to God is required of man by the natural law.

2. Sacrifice is the highest and most solemn and impressiveof the acts of latria. As an official act of religion and externaldivine worship, it is defined as follows: sacrifice is the offeringof a bodily thing (called victim), by a qualified person(called priest), in a suitable place (calledaltar), and the destruction or change of the victim (thisis immolation or mactation) to express the supreme andunique dominion of God over all his creatures, and the absolutedependence of all creatures upon God.

3. Sacrifice is a special act done out ofreverence for God; it therefore belongs to the virtue of religion.Sometimes acts of the other virtues are called by the name ofsacrifices; thus we say that a person makes a sacrifice of time ormoney, or that he is a self-sacrificing person, or that hesacrifices the use of certain foods or pleasures as penance, and soon; and we say that a soldier who dies in battle makes the supremesacrifice. Now, such things are not actually or formallysacrifices, but they are called so because they are a sort ofoffering that is, or should be, made to God; they have aresemblance, either striking or distant, to sacrifice, and thusthey are given its name.

4. Using the name sacrifice in this extended meaning, we are allbound to offer to God the inward sacrifice of a devout mind, and toperform requisite acts of virtue in the spirit of sacrifice, thatis, out of high reverence for God.

"Before a man chooses his confessor, he ought to think well about it, and pray about it also; but when he has once chosen, he ought not to change, except for most urgent reasons, but put the utmost confidence in his director."
St Philip Neri

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"To think of oneself as nothing, and always to think well and highly of others is the best and most perfect wisdom. Wherefore, if you see another sin openly or commit a serious crime, do not consider yourself better, for you do not know how long you can remain in good estate. All men are frail, but you must admit that none is more frail than yourself. "
Thomas á Kempis

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"Those who love God are always happy, because their whole happiness is to fulfill, even in adversity, the will of God."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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