Is the application to self of the sacrificial idea expressed by the term "oblation"—an extension of the thought that readily suggests itself to one who bears in mind the symbolism of the sacrificial act. The oblation of an external victim represents the inner offering that one makes of himself to God (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae 2a2ae, 85.2). This oblation in Christian practice is generally made in union with Christ's offering of Himself upon the cross. It is a way of following Christ, who said: "If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Mt 16.24; Mk 8.34; in Lk 14.27 "… take up his cross daily …"). In these passages Jesus was speaking directly and primarily of persecution, but the words may be understood to include not only external persecution but also the inner denying of oneself in order to live only for God (see self-denial). This same thought, coupled with the association of the sacrifice with that of Christ, is contained in St. Paul's graphic words about being nailed to the cross with Christ (Gal 2.16–20). Inspired by these words, many Christians throughout the centuries have made an explicit offering of themselves to God through Christ in a life of prayer and sacrifice. It is such a desire, indeed, that has led to the establishment of the many religious communities in which men and women consecrate their lives to the service of God. Nevertheless, self-oblation as an act of the virtue of religion is not confined to those who take public vows and live according to the rule of a religious community. SS. Peter and Paul urged all Christians to present themselves as an oblation to God (1 Pt 2.4; Rom 12.1). The Church, especially through the devotion to the humanity of Christ and to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, has continued to promote self-oblation as a practice for devout Christians in all walks of life. Pius XII, for example, invited every Christian, through the Mass especially, to "assume to some extent the character of a victim … so that we can apply to ourselves the words of St. Paul, 'With Christ I am nailed to the Cross"' (Mediator Dei 37). The Church, in the indulgences with which it has enriched private prayers, like the morning offerings of the apostleship of prayer, the act of consecration to the Sacred Heart, and the act of consecration of St. Louis Marie grignion de montfort, continues to encourage self-oblation as an act of devotion.
Bibliography: pius XII, Mediator Dei. a. tanquerey, The Spiritual Life, tr. h. branderis (2d ed. Tournai 1930; repr. Westminster, MD 1945) 270–276. Raccolta (New York 1952) 155–159.