New Insights on the Gospels

March for Life 2012

Evil triumphs when good men do nothing - Edmund Burke

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The importance of Suffering


Saint Therese of the Infant Jesus referred often to suffering, saying "if the good Lord gave us the entire universe, with all its treasures, it could not be compared to the lightest of sufferings."

And she wrote that:

"Holiness does not consist in saying beautiful things, it does not even consist in thinking them, in feeling them! It consists in suffering and in suffering everything."

Saint Therese teaches us so much about holiness and suffering, in this simple and serene manner.

And Saint Francis de Sales called suffering "the eighth sacrament."

At Fatima, Our Lady asked the three children to practice "the eighth sacrament" to save the souls of poor sinners.

"Pray, pray a great deal and make sacrifices for sinners. So many souls go to hell because there is no one to pray and sacrifice for them."

So we know we are on the right track when we suffer and offer our sufferings to Our Lady, as She requested at Fatima.

Two of the three Fatima seers, Jacinta and Francisco, died young because of the need for victim souls to give necessary fecundity to Our Lady’s plan. Their lives were proof that nothing great is done without suffering.

Indeed, suffering helps those souls who are absorbed with themselves and unwilling to open up. We should see suffering as normal for man and we should practice it with courage and daring.

Clearly, this includes not only passive suffering like, for example, allowing another to strike us. It also means active suffering that is, taking the initiative in find suffering. This can be done by confronting bad public opinion or overcoming human respect. In short, it means accepting suffering entirely, embracing it fearlessly and daringly, and taking the initiative to look for ways to sacrifice for an ideal. This is what it means to suffer par excellence and we should seek to do this.

The Hollywood myth of the “happy end” is a great obstacle to accepting suffering and sacrifice. Not all things turn out well in the end as in the movies.

Not everything is joy and success. Thus, we should not look at suffering as a kind of seven-headed monster that invades people’s lives uninvited. To the contrary, we should realize that everyone suffers and a life without crosses is worthless. Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort goes so far as to say that when a person does not suffer, he should ask for crosses. For a person to whom God gives no sufferings should be wary of his eternal salvation.

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