Friday, July 24, 2009

Priest and Sacrifice, Victor and Victim

The Apostleship of Prayer, with its spirituality of "offering it up," is a Eucharistic spirituality. It's a way to fulfill our responsibilities as the baptized faithful who share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ. We call this the "Priesthood of the Faithful." As "priests" in this sense, all the baptized are called to offer worship to God. The worship that we offer is the sacrifice of our lives, which St. Paul called "a living sacrifice" (see Romans 12: 1).

In the second reading from the Church's Office of Readings today, there is a quote from St. Augustine's autobiographical "Confessions." It goes like this:

Good Father, how you loved us, sparing not your only Son but delivering him up for us sinners! How you loved us, for whose sake he, thinking it no robbery to be equal with you, was made subject to death on the cross. He alone, free among the dead, had the power to lay down his life and the power to take it up again. For our sake he became in your sight both victor and victim--victor, indeed, because he was victim. For our sake, too, he became before you both priest and sacrifice--priest, indeed, because he was a sacrifice....

Baptized into the Body of Christ, all the faithful are called to be sacrificial victims and victorious priests. We are called, as members of Christ's Body, to join the offering of ourselves and our day to the perfect offering of the Head of the Body, Christ. This is what living the Eucharist means. Making this offering unites us to the one who was victorious over sin and death so that we too will pass from this life victorious.


  1. Dear Father James, what a beautiful blog! I am glad to have found you. It is truly an answer to a question in my prayer this week. When we are told to discern a vocation to suffer/offer prayers, penance, adoration for souls, what exactly are we discerning? I find that just being and living in God, if we love him, then we must love all his souls. How then can one not make an offering? It seems to me to be as natural as breathing.
    But I have read that we should not make an offering unless we have permission from a priest or advisor and have rightly discerned it is for us. Are we to discern then not if we should make the offering but how, such as how will we order our prayer, what type of penance, if we will go to Mass, confession, adoration regularly? Is it to prepare ourselves to enter more deeply into a proper way of Catholic life? Is it to determine if we are really serving God or just our own needs? Doesn't every Catholic feel the call to offer it up just being God's child? Is offering up daily things different from making a formal offering in some way? I know this is quite a lengthy question and I understand if you are too busy to get to it. I am worried if I am somehow offending God as I don't have formal permission. God bless you!

  2. Dear Gwendolyn, I'm sorry it has taken me so long to respond to your questions. Thank you for them and for becoming a follower of this blog.

    No, you are not offending God for not receiving official permission to make the daily offering. I think there are several kinds of offerings that one can make. One is the offering of oneself through the vows of consecrated life or marriage. Another is the offering one makes through a consecration of oneself that does not involve vows, egs. the Marian Consecration of St. Louis Mary de Montfort, or the consecration to the Sacred Heart that a family makes. Lastly, there is the individual and daily offering. I would recommend that the first two of these types of offerings should involve working with a spiritual director or pastor.

    The third one is really a renewal of our baptismal promises and does not require such formal permission. Moreover, it is a way that we make into a prayer what St. Paul told the Church in Rome (and all of us) to do: "Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God" (12:1). Pope Benedict has also recommended that we make an offering of our daily frustrations and hardships (see his encyclical "Spe Salvi" #40). If the Holy Father himself has recommended that we revive this traditional practice, it's certainly OK for us to do so without formal permission.

    If you want to discuss this some more, you can always reach me at my email: