By Fr. Hien Nguyen
2.3 Self-denial and Sacrifice
In my opinion, this is one of the very important aspects of formation besides faith. We have considered in length of the integration of the two poles subjective and objective or the actual self and the ideal self in previous chapter. The young needs to be reformed and re-informed in a system where they are being bombarded with values of indifference, pluralism, consumerism, self-centered, etc. It is not an exaggeration to call them the generation of “permanent adolescence” because they are unable to grow and mature. We need to help them to reach out and rise above themselves or to enter into the objective pole and transcend. “ Amen, amen, I say to you unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remain just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit” (Jn 20: 24).
Our Church’s Fathers were so wise to pursue God through the way of asceticism. They first purged themselves from pleasure of the senses, desire, and eventually even the intellect to be mystically in union with God. In order to do so, one needs to make the object of his hope is God, his goal is heaven, and his love is the desiring of Jesus Christ. This is the principal foundation for the explanation of St. Clement of Alexandria in his work of Who is the Rich Man that is Saved. The wealthy man has to have God as a goal and any other things are mediations or instruments to help him to arrive to the union with God. This can only happen when a person is living a selfless life and ready to make the radical choice for God and his love.
Saying “yes” to God always accompanies with sacrifices. Look at what Jesus was going through by saying “yes” to the Father. “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mt 16:24). Jesus teaches us the way of the cross, the ultimate sacrifice as the way to the Father. Contemplate on Mary’s life when she said “yes” to God. It is filled with countless sacrifices. Following this same logic, our children will not say “yes” to God if they are not willing to make a sacrifice. Unfortunately, our contemporary society encourages our young people to be more selfish, to focus on “what I can get” instead of “what I can give.” For this reason, we must help our children to cultivate a spirit of benevolent. In order to do this, many families begin to partition chores and responsibilities such as doing the dishes, vacuuming the house, doing laundry, mopping the floor, etc. for the children to do at home. Through their responsibility, they will cultivate the virtue of charity and posses an attitude moved by the value of self-transcendent.
Volunteer works is also another effective way to help the children to reach-out to those who are less fortunate. The children can volunteer by visiting the sick at hospitals. Here they can see the suffering Christ and learn how to be compassionate. Nursing homes are other places where the elders who are feeling lonely and waiting for a visitor. There are soup kitchens that serve those who are hungry and living on the street and need assistance. The parish and the public community also need young volunteers. Doing such service for the common good help the young to think beyond themselves and integrate their needs through the facility and rapport with others and always ready and available for whatever challenges arrive.