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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.

"Whom do you seek, friend, if you seek not God? Seek him, find him, cleave to him; bind your will to his with bands of steel and you will live always at peace in this life and in the next."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"Every man naturally desires knowledge; but what good is knowledge without fear of God? Indeed a humble rustic who serves God is better than a proud intellectual who neglects his soul to study the course of the stars."
Thomas á Kempis

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"O Lord, my God, who will seek you with simple and pure love, and not find that you are all one can desire, for you show yourself first and go out to meet those who seek you? "
St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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