Saint Gianna Beretta Molla once wrote “Love and Sacrifice are clearly linked like the sun and light. We cannot love without suffering and we cannot suffer without love.” This is a radical statement that holds so much truth especially regarding how we as Catholics are called to love.
This past summer I worked with Totus Tuus teaching what essentially is a Catholic vacation bible school. Each week I would always ask the first and second graders how you showed someone that you loved them. They would all excitedly raise their hands and say something like “you kiss them” or “you take them on a date”. Oddly enough the closest they came to the answer I wanted was when they talked about Olaf the snowman from frozen who was willing to stay by the fire to help Princess Ana warm up saying that “some people were worth melting for” (Disney for the first time ever showing what actual true love is in a princess movie win). I would end up telling them that love is wanting what the person you love wants more than wanting what you want. I would use an example like when their parents want them to clean their rooms and they didn’t want to clean their rooms they could show their parents they love them by cleaning their rooms without complaining.
That is a small scale example of love that shows how sacrifice fits into love. All the first and second graders instinctive answers about love really shed light on what the world’s idea of love is. I would say it is best described as a mushy gushy bubblegum pink feeling. While that feeling is great, that is not what love is. The greatest example that we have of love is Christ’s passion. Jesus sacrificed his life for us out of love. That is heroic and true love. That is what we are called to everyday, to die to ourselves for the sake of others. To make small sacrifices to show great love. Saint Gianna is a beautiful example of this, she refused to have an abortion even though her complications during her pregnancy with her fourth child could possibly lead to her death. She said to her family: “This time it will be a difficult delivery, and they may have to save one or the other — I want them to save my baby.” She successfully gave birth to her fourth child but seven days later experienced pains and died. Her life is a beautiful example about sacrifice and love. We don’t have to have such a beautiful and intense version of sacrifice in our life but every day we can choose to live for Christ and put others before us, sacrifice is the greatest form of love. Go out and love.