Wednesday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time
“For greater things you were born.” (Ven. Mother Luisita)
WEDNESDAY, September 1st Lk. 4: 38-44… “At daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place.”
- Why do you think Jesus left to a deserted place at daybreak? We can reasonably assume He went off by himself to pray to His Father in heaven! In Mark 1: 35, the evangelist makes specific reference to Jesus doing exactly that.
- So often what we bring to Our Lord in prayer are our challenges and our sufferings. Fr. Ed Broom gives us a beautiful meditation on uniting our headaches and heartaches with the sufferings of Jesus, and the fruits we will receive from that!
POSITIVE FRUITS OF SUFFERING… By Father Ed Broom, OMV
Suffering has positive value only inasmuch as it is united to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in His life, Passion, death, and Resurrection. If not, much of our suffering is wasted and we become a bitter person rather than a better person!
The purpose of this article is to highlight a list of positive fruits that flow from the person who unites their sufferings to the cross of Jesus in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, where Jesus renews on a daily basis His passion and death through the Sacrament of all Sacraments—the most Holy Eucharist! The following is a list to encourage us to carry our cross more courageously, following in the footsteps of Jesus and His friends, the saints. With Saint Francis of Assisi, we acclaim: “We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.”
1. UNION WITH AND IMITATION OF CHRIST. The name Christian means follower or disciple of Christ. By suffering with courage, we are united more with Jesus our Savior; we become more like Him and we imitate Him more closely.
2. PRAYER GROWTH. In crucial moments of intense suffering, true followers of Christ pray all the more fervently, in imitation of Jesus in the Garden where He prayed all the more fervently to the point of shedding huge drops of blood. And it is so true that as we deepen our prayer life, we are united more closely to Christ, and become with Christ living sacrifices pleasing to God the Father.
3. HUMILITY. Confronted with such intense sufferings—physical, psychological, emotional, moral, social or family related, etc.—we find ourselves helpless like a little child, totally dependent upon the care, protection, and love of our Eternal Father and His Divine Providence. Humility means not depending upon myself and my limited human resources, but depending totally upon God. “Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (Ps. 124:8) And, “The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall lack.” (Psalm 23)
4. TRUST. One of the modern spiritual classics is the Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul of Saint Faustina Kowalska. This great modern saint suffered intensely, but the more she suffered, the more she trusted in God for strength and support. So it must be with us; suffering should motivate us to trust in God all the more as our eternal Rock on which we stand in navigating through the storms of life.
5. PATIENCE. The nature of all suffering is that it takes a toll on us and forces us to practice the virtue of patience—remember the Book of Job. Maybe God Himself has sent us certain sufferings as a means by which we can grow in that all important virtue of Patience! Looking in retrospect on past sufferings that we have more or less accepted, we can attest to the fact that we are at least a little more patient in imitation of Jesus, Mary, and the saints. Jesus said: “By your patience you will save your souls.” (Lk. 21:19)
6. COMPASSION. Still more, the virtue of compassion can be a recompense and prize for those undergoing a fire-storm of tribulations and sufferings. A classic example might be the woman who has survived breast cancer and is now healthy and thriving. This woman providentially meets another woman who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. The woman who has survived the ordeal can definitely commiserate with and have compassion for the woman just diagnosed, for the simple reason that she went through it herself! Those who suffer in a Christian way have the capacity to be compassionate and consoling with others who are going through the same or similar predicaments. Actually, the word Compassion means the ability “to suffer” with another.
7. PURIFICATION. As gold is purified by fire, so are the friends of the Lord purified by the trial of suffering. Saint John of the Cross gives us the image of a piece of cold and rusty iron cast into the fire. In time, the cold and rusty piece of iron assumes the same degree of heat and qualities as the fire, and the rust disintegrates. So it is with human souls cloaked with sin and sinful tendencies. The willing acceptance of suffering for the love of Christ and in union with Christ, who suffered and died for all of humanity and all of us individually, can be a means of purifying our soul. Indeed, it must be said: we can beg the Lord to give us our Purgatory here on earth so that we can have quicker access to heaven when we die!
8. DETACHMENT. The human person, due to Original Sin, has a strong tendency to attach themself to persons, places, things, ideas, concepts, etc. Many of these attachments are disordered to the point of even being sinful. The storm blast of suffering can shatter these attachments. If one has been diagnosed with cancer and given six months to live, they can start to unpack their life, relinquish what is not really essential and necessary, give things away to others, cling less to human persons and more to God, as they prepare themself for death, judgment, and the life to come, hopefully Heaven! Indeed, suffering can serve as a sober and very real meditation on the transitory and fleeting nature of human life! “Vanity of vanity, all is vanity,” (Eccles. 1: 2) if not based on God!
9. SALVATION OF SOULS. The children of Fatima were educated in the school of suffering, especially Jacinta and Francisco Marto—both died about two years after the last apparition of Our Lady of Fatima on October 13, 1917. After the graphic vision of hell, July 13, 1917, little Jacinta could not undertake too many sacrifices, offering all of her sufferings for the salvation of immortal souls! Sacrificing her favorite food—the sweet grapes of Portugal, giving up dancing which she loved, giving up water on hot days, putting up with the painful insistence of people pestering her with questions, wearing a rough rope around her waist, and finally, suffering the pains of the illness that led to her death; Jacinta endured all of this so as to collaborate in the salvation of immortal souls. In other words, her suffering had infinite value because she suffered for souls with and for Jesus. When beatified by Pope Saint John Paul II, he gave her the title of little victim soul—such was her thirst for the salvation of immortal souls and her willingness to suffer for them with Jesus!
10. SHORTNESS OF LIFE AND ETERNITY. Finally, in our analysis of the positive meaning of suffering, we have to come to terms with our mortality—that all of us one day have to pass through the door of death and this often entails suffering. However, life is very short as the Psalmist reminds us: “Man is like the flower of the field that rises in the morning and withers and dies as the sun goes down.” (Ps 103: 15-16) In the Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul, Jesus said these words to Faustina, “You will go back to earth and there you will suffer much, but not for long; you will accomplish my will and my desires and a faithful servant of Mine will help you do this. Now rest on My bosom, on My heart, and draw from it strength and power for these sufferings because you will find neither relief nor help nor comfort anywhere else. Know that you will have much, much to suffer, but don’t let this frighten you; I am with you.” (Diary # 36) These words of Jesus are serious and sober, but also consoling. He will always be with us and invites all of us to seek refuge, not in the passing things of this world, but in His bosom, seek comfort in His Most Sacred Heart.
May Our Lady of Sorrows console us all with her loving and maternal presence! She will always be present with Jesus to help us carry our crosses patiently so as to gain heaven, and bring as many souls as possible with us, and thereby win the reward that God has prepared for us for all eternity.