Reading the paper in the morning is so discouraging. There is news of the war and of increased nuclear tensions, of global warming, and local crime. There is poverty and pain on almost every page. Sin and evil seem rampant in the world. It can be so overwhelming at times, especially when it seems there is so little we can do to change any of it. Especially for those of us who live our lives primarily within the domestic sphere, our power and influence can feel very insignificant.
And yet, there are things we can do. In the past century, Jesus appeared to St. Faustina and Mary has appeared to the young children of Fatima and the people of Medjugorje. In all of these visions, the message has been the same. We must pray and sacrifice for our own salvation, to help save other souls, and to help change the course of world events.
Prayer and sacrifice - it seems so simple, doesn't it? But we often put up obstacles or make excuses not to do it. Who has time for prayer? There are children to feed and a house to clean and work to do and volunteer projects to attend to. Sacrifice? No one talks about sacrifice anymore. Life is supposed to be about self-fulfillment. We work hard and are tired. We deserve good food, the best entertainment, the finest things we can afford.
Yes, the message of Jesus is one that is as counter-cultural today as it was two thousand years ago. The truth is that we do have time for prayer and sacrifice. We need to make the time. Prayer is the foundation of all that we are and all that we do. When we dedicate some of our time to prayer, God will make the remainder of our time more fruitful. We will operate with God in His plan for the world.
We also have many opportunities for sacrifice. We can give up something that we enjoy on certain days of the week, television or shopping or dessert for example. In addition, we can accept the crosses that come our way willingly rather than raising a ruckus. We can serve our spouses or our parents or our children when they ask us to even when we would prefer to be doing something else. We can listen patiently to another person who wants desperately to talk. We can be kind. We can be loving. We can choose to give of ourselves instead of looking for what we can get out of a situation. We can then offer these sacrifices to God as small gifts.
Prayer and sacrifice are something each one of us can do, no matter what our age or circumstances in life. With them, we have the power to help change the world, a little bit at a time. Jesus and Mary have told us this is true. What better authority could one ask for?