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Ordained in 2011, Father Friel served for five years as Parochial Vicar at St. Anselm Parish in Northeast Philly. He is currently studying toward an STL in sacred liturgy at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
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Why do we never sing “De Spiritu Sancto” (St. Athenogenes) in our churches? There are a dozen translations in English verse. Where could anyone find a better evening hymn than this, coming right down from the catacombs? Our hymnbooks know nothing of such a treasure as this, and give us pages of poor sentiment in doggerel lines by some tenth-rate modern versifier.
— Rev’d Adrian Fortescue (d. 1923)

Sacrificing Ourselves
published 28 April 2013 by Fr. David Friel

EOPLE LIKE NEW STUFF. It’s true, isn’t it? We like that new car smell. We like the feel of brand new bed sheets. We like to be the first person to dip a knife into a fresh jar of peanut butter. People like new stuff.

I’m the youngest of four, so, growing up, I rarely had anything that was new. We were used car people—garage sale people. The toys I had were toys my brother had used. Virtually all my clothes were hand-me-downs. Even the books I had for school were books my brother and sisters had used first. So, when I did get something that was new, I appreciated it all the more.

Newness is a theme in Scripture, particularly the new Testament. In the Book of Revelation, the Lamb seated upon the throne declares: “Behold, I make all things new.” What a promise! In the Gospels, Jesus announces that He will give us a “new Commandment.” What do you think the Apostles thought of that? I imagine they were excited, since, after all, most people like new stuff.

So, what is this “new Commandment”? It is this: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. What’s so new about that? Doesn’t the Old Testament teach us to “love our neighbor as ourself”? It does, indeed, but that is something very different. The new Commandment of Jesus is not to love other people in the same way we love ourselves. The new Commandment is to love other people in the same way Jesus loves us. “Love one another as I have loved you.”

That’s much more serious, because how does Jesus love us? He gave Himself up to death for us. On the Cross, He showed that He actually loves us more than He loves Himself. What do you think the Apostles thought about this “new Commandment” now?

This is the great model for us. There is no other way. Jesus, Himself, is our Way, and so every Christian must offer the gift of our very selves—our hearts, our minds, our lives. Sacrificing ourselves: this is what Jesus means when He commands us to “love one another.”