Saturday 7 August 2021

The Lost Art of Sacrifice - Vicki Burbach

The Lost Art of Sacrifice: 
A Spiritual Guide for Denying Yourself, 
Embracing the Cross, and Finding Joy
ISBN 9781622826360
eISBN 9781622826377

I was very intrigued when I saw the title of this book and even more so once I read the author’s name. Vicki’s other book, How to Read Your Way to Heaven, was amazing. I had high expectations for this volume. I was not disappointed. This book is an excellent read. I read it slowly over a few days. The description of the book is:

“Jesus taught that if we are to call ourselves Christians, we must deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow him. But what does denying ourselves look like? How exactly must we carry our cross? And what does He mean when He says we must lose my life in order to save it? In these pages, Vicki Burbach explains that while Christ's words are challenging, he isn't asking us to pick up our cross because he is vindictive or twisted, nor because He wants to see us suffer. It's because sacrifice is the greatest manifestation of love, and He created our souls in order to love and be loved. In our materialistic and secular world, we have lost the art of sacrifice - an art that connects us with the very root of our souls. That's why this book is so vitally important today. In The Lost Art of Sacrifice you'll learn:

     The difference between suffering and sacrifice
     Why the life is not measured by what you get - it's about what you give
     Why God prepared your soul for sacrificial love
     Why Sacrifice is not something that happens to you - it's an act of the will
     How conquering your desires is critical to sacrificial love”

And the chapters and sections in the book are:

Part 1 The Fundamentals of Sacrifice
     1. What Is Sacrifice?
     2. Surrender Yourself to Freedom 
     3. Lose the “Me” Attitudes
     4. Contemplate the Cross
     5. Become One with Christ

Part 2 Avoiding Satan’s Traps
     6. Beware the Traps of Modernism: Lies about Spiritual Traditions
     7. Beware of Blessings and Curses: The Lie of the Prosperity Gospel
     8. Beware of Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing: The Lie of Socialism 
     9. Beware the Gospel of Death: Lies about Suffering
     10. Beware the Temptation to Throw in the Towel: Lies about Willpower 

Part 3 The Art of Sacrifice
     11. Dispositions That Make Way for Sacrifice
     12. Penance and Mortification
     13. Love of God: Giving God Your Time 
     14. Love of God: Devotion to Christ and His Mother 
     15. Love of Neighbor
     16. Perseverance and the Road to Holiness

Conclusion: Final Prayer for You
Appendix: The Discipline of Holy Mother Church
About the Author

This is one of those books that as I was reading it, I was already making recommendations to others to pick it up. And one of those books that I believe that every Catholic would benefit from reading. I had high expectations and Burbach exceeded them all. Dan Burke in the introduction states:

“Because of concupiscence, our lower nature, our cravings for things of the flesh always seek to rule us. The powerful reign of our appetites and desires relentlessly drives us to the seven deadly sins and their offspring — all of which, unchecked, will lead us to Hell. At best, these desires enslave us to the wants and whims of our feelings rather than our intellect and will. This enslavement, as St. John of the Cross reveals, leads to a darkened, defiled, and weakened will. This is the pathway into habitual mortal sin, total internal disintegration, anxiety, stress, and ultimate separation from God.”

And further on:

“This is where Vicki Burbach’s work is so important for us and for the Church. She provides a pathway to reinvigorating the lost art of ascesis — of saying yes to God and no to the flesh — ; yes to our higher calling and purpose and no to the pull of dissolution. This process of reordering the flesh so that it is subordinate to the spirit is essential to knowing the peace of God and to the soul’s progress toward sanctity.”

Those two paragraphs encapsulate the way of and the how of this book. 
Here are some of the sections I highlighted my first time through this book. 

“By this I don’t necessarily mean that we are called to be martyrs, offering our blood as a testament of our allegiance to Christ — although, for some of us, that call may come — but rather that we offer ourselves as “bloodless” martyrs, ready to release our attachments, our desires, our preferences, our idiosyncrasies, our very wills, in deference to the will of God. Essentially, we are called to die to ourselves. And if we don’t?”

“A sacrifice to be real must cost, must hurt, and must empty ourselves.”

“This is the nature of sacrifice, the free gift of yourself. The what, when, where, why, and how of sacrifice is the subject of this book. But before we get too far into the whys and wherefores, perhaps we should begin with the what. In part 1, we’ll discuss the true meaning of sacrifice and its place in our daily lives.”

“For sacrifice requires the subjugation of oneself to the omnipotent God, the offering of oneself as a gift, ultimately in service to God.”

“But traditionally, sacrifice has meant the offering of something for a sacred purpose. Anything sacred is extraordinary. It is not of this world. It is of God. And its goodness extends far beyond our experience.”

“Serving God through serving others makes us better than we are, and yet sometimes it’s easy to forget that our sacrifices also make us more notably human. In performing a sacrifice — a pure act of love for God — we emulate Christ, the perfect human being, whose entire earthly life consisted of sacrifice, culminating in His death on the Cross for our salvation.”

“Serving God through serving others makes us better than we are, and yet sometimes it’s easy to forget that our sacrifices also make us more notably human. In performing a sacrifice — a pure act of love for God — we emulate Christ, the perfect human being, whose entire earthly life consisted of sacrifice, culminating in His death on the Cross for our salvation.”

“We are not to place our faith in our human nature and our capacity to control our environment, our desires, our actions, or our thoughts; rather, we are to cooperate with God’s grace. It is not about our power to save ourselves, but about His power to save us.”

“When everything we do is done with the sole purpose of pleasing God out of love, sacrifice becomes not a chore, not a discipline, but a gift that is just an outgrowth of love. And remember, anything done out of love, no matter how small, is of inestimable value in the eyes of God.”

“Mass on Sunday is mandated for all Catholics around the world; this has been passed down from the apostles, who were taught by Christ Himself.”

I hope that those few quotes will pique your interest in this excellent volume. Each of the chapters in the first two sections of the book end with Three sections:

Cultivating the Art of Sacrifice
Suggested Reading 

A sample for the chapter Surrender Yourself to Freedom is:

Cultivating the Art of Sacrifice 

God is holding His hands out to You. He would like nothing more than for you to turn to Him for every need and to seek His help at all times. He desires that you live without anxiety, that, in trust, you unite your will to His, that you might learn to live a life of sacrificial love. Are you ready to surrender? If not, spend some time in prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal what is keeping you from complete surrender. What are you holding on to that prevents you from giving yourself completely?


Ask God what He would like you to sacrifice right now. It may be something as simple as setting time aside to spend with Him. It may be as challenging as giving up a strong attachment that you’ve been clinging to. Whatever it is, ask Him to help you make that offering in love. If you can’t quite bring yourself to make the sacrifice, keep trying. And keep asking. 

Suggested Reading 

Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence, by St. Claude de la Colombière 
Spiritual Combat, by Lorenzo Scupoli”

This book is an excellent read. It is a book we would all benefit from reading and living out. It is a volume I plan to return to again. Burbach writes in an entertaining and engaging style. The book is easy to read. And the advice and wisdom sound. She provides examples from her own life, from the lives of people she knows, and from the saints and church history. If you are only going to pick up one more Catholic book this year. Make it this volume. I am certain you will be blessed. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan

Books by Vicki Burbach:

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