“For greater things you were born.” (Ven. Mother Luisita)
THURSDAY, May 20th Jn. 17: 20-26 “Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: ‘I pray not only for these but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.’”
- Jesus prays not only for His apostles, but for all those who will believe through them – that is us!
- Ponder this: Jesus, at the Last Supper, looks down through time and sees us knowing Him, loving Him, and serving Him in our neighbor. Being faithful to the Sacraments, to prayer and fasting for our salvation the salvation of many souls!
- Jesus loves us as He loves the apostles, and His prayer is that we may be one – one with the Apostles, Saints, and Martyrs down through time– even as Jesus and the Father are one!
- What does that look like? Revelation 21: 2-4: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order has passed away.”
- But that is not all! Saint Maximilian Kolbe had this to say: “Only at God’s judgment shall we know how many mysteries of grace took place around us and how many people were saved thanks to us, without our having ever imagined it.”
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 has united their suffering to the cross of Jesus, as well as 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 all the more closely.
2. PRAYER GROWTH. In crucial moments of intense suffering the true followers of Christ pray all the more fervently in imitation of Jesus Himself in the Garden—He prayed all the more fervently to the point of shedding huge drops of blood. And it is so true that if we deepen our prayer life, we unite ourselves more to Christ and become living sacrifices pleasing to God the Father.
3. HUMILITY. Confronted with excruciating sufferings—physical, psychological, emotional, moral, social or family related, etc.—we find ourselves helpless and like a little child totally dependent upon the care, protection, and love of the Eternal Father and His Divine Providence. Humility really means not depending upon myself and my limited human resources, but depending upon God. “Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 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 of Saint Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul. This great modern saint suffered intensely, but the more she suffered the more she trusted in God for her 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 can 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 bit 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 who are undergoing the fire and storm of tribulations and sufferings. A classic example might be a 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. Why? For the simple reason that she went through it herself! Those who suffer in a Christian way have the capacity to be compassionate with others who are going through the same predicament. 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 sufferings. 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 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!
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, give things away to others, relinquish what is not really essential and necessary, and prepare themself for death, judgment, and the life to come—Heaven! Indeed, suffering can serve as a sober but very real meditation on the transitory and fleeting nature of human life! “Vanity of vanity, all is vanity” 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 in October 13, 1917. After the graphic vision of hell, July 13, 1917, little Jacinta could not undertake too many sacrifices, offering her sufferings for the salvation of immortal souls! Sacrificing her favorite food—the sweet grapes of Portugal, 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; Jacinta did all of these so as to collaborate with God in the salvation of immortal souls. In other words, her suffering had infinite value because she suffered for and with Jesus. When beatified by Saint Pope 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) Jesus said these words to Saint Faustina in Diary Divine Mercy in My Soul: “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 of Saint Faustina # 36) These words of Jesus are serious, sober, but also consoling. He will always be with us and invites all of us to seek refuge and comfort, not in the things of this passing world, but to seek refuge 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 to carry our cross patiently so as to win the reward in heaven that awaits us!