Trust in Him

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Priviledge of Suffering


"The greatest suffering is in not being permitted to suffer."
(St. Colette)

Indeed, to suffer with Jesus for His sake and the sake of others is the greatest privilege. Who can love Him and not wish to share His pains as well as His joys? Through our suffering and faith, we console and come near to Christ in His trials. We relate to Him in the great work of His humanity: His Passion. Can we expect to know Him more than we know Him when we know His sorrow?

Through suffering we grow closer to Christ in love, for there is no greater love than that which suffers and dies for a friend. We follow the beatitudes which Jesus sweetly taught us more fully in our sufferings, and imitate the perfect Lamb who was led "like a sheep to slaughter" and patiently and lovingly bore the greatest affliction for us. We empathize with the poor, and share with them the blessings of meekness and poverty and patience. Through suffering we earn the right to call creation family, and, with the birds and trees and animals of all kinds, praise God in both the strength and weaknesses of our nature as we learn to rely on His Holy Providence.

The merits of suffering are endless, giving us the opportunity to show our love of God and neighbor in a truly extraordinary way. By suffering heroically we can help those who will not help themselves, and work for their conversion, presenting their redeemed souls as gifts to the God of love. By our willingness to suffer even the greatest pains we can show greater Charity to our neighbor and greater forgiveness to great sinners; reconciling ourselves with our enemies with a peace worthy of Jesus Himself.

The greatest love, then, embraces suffering as Christ embraced the Cross, because in it is found love deeper than joy. A love that would suffer all things for the sake of righteousness. A love that would live a million lives and die a million deaths to save a single soul. A love that thirsts for Christ and flourishes in sanctity, nurturing virtue and grace. This love is a love gained and strengthened through sorrow.

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