Degrees of Unpleasantness

By Melodious Monk

A sacrifice is not, as so many people imagine, a mortification; it is not something that is meritorious according to its degree of unpleasantness; on the contrary, in real sacrifice, there is a joy which surpasses all other joys, it is the crescendo and culmination of love. -Caryll Houselander

This is an interesting quote from an early 20th century British mystic and poet. It’s difficult for people, even many Christian people, to not view God as an authorial figure who is constantly judging, accruing and tallying the results of our every day. We’ve all been taught since early Sunday school that God loves us unconditionally, and thank God he does. But, do we really take advantage of this gift of sacrifice?

Sacrifice can be defined as: the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone.

I laugh at the phrase that Houselander uses to describe our human viewpoint of sacrifice, imagined as “according to its degree of unpleasantness.”  I know I childishly base many decisions each day on this “degree” of unpleasantness!  What I don’t usually keep measure of, and perhaps should start, is joy.  If true joy is something I desire each day, then a new way to look at sacrifice would be to realize that any sacrificial acts will help crescendo my daily “degree” of joy, and perhaps decrease my degree of unpleasantness!

The Community of Jesus


This entry was posted in God, Joy, Love, Men of God, Reflections by Melodius Monk. Bookmark the permalink.

About Melodius Monk

I'm 30 years old, and I grew up at the Community of Jesus. My parents moved from Ohio to live at the Community two years before I was born, so with the exception of a few years at college, I’ve lived in the Community my whole life. I became a Novice Brother in 2003, and made my profession as a brother in 2005. Currently I have a pretty varied life as a brother. In addition to daily responsibilities in our liturgies, I cook, sing, play trumpet, and am responsible for various cleaning and maintenance needs in the church building (my favorite jobs is changing the light bulbs at 45 feet!) I also arrange transportation for brothers to various appointments, work on repairing musical instruments, clean the barn, give tours of the church, make the weekly food menu for the Friary, and help out with various other needs as they arise around the Community. Growing up, I was not particularly interested in the religious life, but I met Jesus at an inter-varsity fellowship meeting my second year in college, and that re-directed my life drastically. I feel very fortunate to have found my life’s calling, and the hope for more wholeness is what keeps me on my monastic journey on difficult days.

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