Ordained to Sacrifice...

By CUF's "Lay Witness" Staff


In hearing of the passing Fr. John Hardon, S.J., to his Father, I am immediately filled with mixed emotions. On the human side of life, the priesthood, the faith, and catechesis have lost one who can only be described as a giant defender and apologist, a truly faithful servant of the Lord, who persevered until the end. But, rejoicing in the faith of which Fr. Hardon was such an ardent exponent, I know that we have gained, in the realm of the Father, one who will still be our friend and will continue to lend his assistance to us, as he has done throughout his long life. Thus, we may rejoice.
Rest in peace, Fr. Hardon. May St. Ignatius, the saints, and angels of whom you so often spoke and wrote so eloquently, lead you through the gates of paradise to the one who is Eternal Life and of whom you never ceased to preach.

— Cardinal Dario Castrillon-Hoyos,
Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.


Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., died of cancer at age 86 on Saturday, December 30. He was born in Pennsylvania on June 18, 1914, graduated from John Carroll University in Cleveland in 1936 and joined the Society of Jesus that same year, was ordained a priest in 1947, and earned a doctorate in dogmatic theology at the Gregorian University in Rome in 1951. Also in 1951, Fr. Hardon received the Papal Medal. He earned many other distinctive honors, authored more than 200 books, and taught the authentic faith to generations of Catholics for over a half century.

Fr. Hardon was introduced to CUF in 1971, and ever since has frequently participated in CUF events. His first-rate materials have long enjoyed a pride of place among CUF members and chapters. CUF has worked to sell thousands of his famous Catholic Catechism and other books. His little-known, unassuming 1984 article entitled, "Sacrifice and Vocations," is reprinted here in memoriam of a life destined to serve and sacrifice.


Sacrifice and Vocations

By Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

Every vocation is born of sacrifice, is maintained by sacrifice, and is measured in the apostolate by the sacrifice of those whom God calls to the priesthood or the religious life. This should not be surprising, once we realize that it was by His sacrifice that Christ redeemed the world. The servant is not greater than his Master. In fact, the more intimate one's vocation to the service of Christ, the more demanding will be the sacrifices required.

Barring an extraordinary grace from God, He generally calls those persons to follow Him as priests or religious who have been taught the value of sacrifice from childhood. The experience of self-denial in the use and enjoyment of material things is the normal predisposition for a lifetime practice of evangelical poverty. Training in self- control of the senses, especially in the use of the media, is the ordinary preparation for a lifelong dedication to consecrated chastity. Careful and loving nurture in self-denial, almost from infancy, is God's usual way of conditioning the human will for commitment to the counsel of obedience.

If sacrifice in childhood and young adulthood is the seedbed of vocations, continued fidelity in serving the Church is impossible without the habit of self-surrender. There are many reasons for the tragic loss of so many once-dedicated persons in affluent countries like America. But surely one of these reasons is the prior loss of a willingness to give in to the sometimes hard demands of Christ's love. We may, therefore, say that vocations are nourished on sacrifice as the body is sustained on food. Or, as the Savior told His followers -and bade them follow His example- "My food is to do the will of him who sent me" (Jn. 4:34).

Sacrifice is, finally, the condition and norm of apostolic work in the priesthood and religious life. Who have been the great achievers in the vineyard of the Lord over the centuries? Have they not been the men and women who never said "enough" in their zeal for souls; who labored, like St. Paul, in season and out of season, selflessly and exhaustingly; who never counted the cost in time or effort or personal preference; in a word, who lived lives of heroic sacrifice?

All of this is common knowledge for those who have come to know Christ who, "having joy set before Him, chose the Cross." But this kind of knowledge needs to be taught -and learned- if the vocations which the Church so desperately needs are to be fostered and preserved in our day.


Used with permission by Institute on Religious Life. @ 1984. Institute on Religious Life, P.O. Box 41007, Chicago IL 60641. Fr. Hardon's outstanding books, audiotapes, and catechisms are available through Eternal Life, P.O. Box 787, Bardstown, KY 40004; www.lifeeternal.org; (800) 842-2871; fax (502) 348-2224; or by calling Benedictus Books toll-free at (888) 316-2640. CUF members receive a 10% discount.



- In Remembrance -

Both in the witness of his life and the marvelous quality of his writing, teaching, and scholarship, Fr. Hardon had a huge effect on an entire generation of Catholics after Vatican II. He'll be sorely missed.
— Most Reverend
Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.,
Archbishop of Denver
As a brother priest and Jesuit, "insignis" for his oracular vision and steadfast labor and quiet intensity, Fr. John Hardon will be remembered--and invoked.
— Fr. Robert I. Bradley, S.J.,
longtime CUF spiritual advisor
I am blessed beyond measure by many years of working closely with Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. He was a holy, humble priest, and intellectual giant, a master teacher, a prolific author, and a preeminent catechist. Daily Holy Mass, daily Confession, and three hours spent before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament were ordinary for him. He was tireless and courageous in proclaiming the truth and ferreting out and condemning error. He took his vow seriously to defend our Holy Father and Holy Mother Church. Will history record Fr. Hardon as one of the 20th century's great saints? I most certainly think so!
— William Smith,
Eternal Life
On the "road to Rome," I found Fr. Hardon's work always trustworthy and informative. He was an unquestionable guide and resource, and a model in so many ways. I know that I speak for countless Catholics in giving thanks to God for this holy priest, above all for two reasons: Because the light of truth radiated in what he said, it invited people to come out of the darkness; and because his love of Christ, impassioned and glowing through his life, welcomed people out of the cold.
— Dr. Scott Hahn,
CUF board member
A Canisius of the 20th century. (The catechism of St. Peter Canisius, S.J. was so widespread after the Council of Trent, that even to this day in rural Germany a child may be asked, "Did you learn your Canisius?") The title Defensor Fidei was dishonored in the 16th century. It could certainly be rehabilitated in the 20th by giving it to Fr. Hardon.
— Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J.
The Jesuit theologian Fr. John Hardon, so well-known to American Catholics, has been an indefatigable author producing work after work in exposition and defense of Catholic teaching against the major errors of the day. In this he has exemplified the best traditions of the Society of Jesus and his "Father in God." St. Ignatius of Loyola.
— James Likoudis,
CUF President Emeritus
I don't know a man who had a greater knowledge of the faith and its effect on the world.
— John Summe,
CUF board member
May Eternal Light shine upon Fr. John Hardon, and may Our Blessed Lord grant him Eternal Rest.
— Antonio Parisi,
a member of Credo-CUF