A guest blog by Greg Swanson
Hi Everyone, Thanks for stopping by. I hope you find this post inspiring, but moreover I pray that it draws you closer to our precious Lord Jesus Christ to whom we owe our lives, our redemption and our salvation. “He paid a debt he did not owe, because we owed a debt we could not pay.” ~ Ellis J. Crum
As Mother Mary Angelica so eloquently said, “Suffering in itself does not make us holy. It is only when we unite it out of love to the suffering of Christ that it has meaning. Suffering without love is wasted pain.” Wasted pain seems like an oxymoron, yet in Christian spirituality it has everything to do with redemption. Our late Mother Angelica was speaking to a way of living and a way of the cross known to the saints as Redemptive Suffering. Through this graceful way of living and being, we can save millions and perhaps billions of souls for Christ. In these times saving souls has never been more critical. In light of my prior posts and Pope Leo XIII’s vision in union with Our Lady’s visits to La Salette, Lourdes, Fatima, Garabandal, Akita and others; our earthly time grows short; we must do whatever we can to draw souls back to our Lord. It is beyond critical, it is our very purpose for existence.
Jacinta and Francisco Marto understood this need far more that most adults of their time and for that matter this time as well. After witnessing the vision of Hell given by the Blessed Mother, Jacinta more than the other two was horrified at what she witnessed. Thereafter, no act of suffering seemed too extreme for her. She and Francesco even took to wearing small nettles around their ankles as acts of suffering for souls. They too offered their suffering unto death [smallpox] to Our Lord as Fr. Jason Brooks explained in his talk, “Fatima: Living the Message (Lighthouse Catholic Media).
In our secularized culture, the need to suffer for souls is so much greater than in the past and the need grows greater daily. In a world that scarcely believes the Devil even exists, Our Lady’s agony that “souls fall into Hell like snowflakes” resonate sorrowfully in my very being. Though like our first parents, humanity has again been duped through pride to eliminate God and edify itself as the creator. “One of the most striking proofs of the personal existence of Satan, which our times afford us, is found in the fact, that he has so influenced the minds of multitudes in reference to his existence and doings, as to make them believe that he does not exist; and that the hosts of Demons or Evil Spirits, over whom Satan presides as Prince, are only the phantacies of the brain, some halucination of mind“. [1856 “Spiritualism, a Satanic Delusion, and a Sign of the Times” by Pastor William Ramsey] Yet, as the faithful are fully aware Satan does exist, so fully clear to those intune with Our Savior and his Most Holy Mother.
So how can we best live redemptively? For most of us, it’s pretty difficult. Most of us have become so accustomed to satisfying our needs so quickly that the idea of suffering through pain is closer to repugnant that of merit. I believe it’s fair to say that most people hate suffering. If we experience a migraine, which I often do, we head for the medicine chest. The thought of nausea versus relief is still an idea with which I struggle. If we pull something, it’s ibuprofen or naproxin and that’s just at the surface. What about depression, loneliness, isolation? Many of us experience this today and even within our own families. Have we considering how we may offer this to the Lord or do we hide it behind television or social media or some other form of modern anesthesia? Our suffering offered to God correctly is very powerful and we need to offer it up to save souls in this time of such overwhelming need.
In the Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena, we can see God’s tremendous gift in true loving sacrificial suffering, “Very pleasing to Me, dearest daughter, is the willing desire to bear every pain and fatigue, even unto death, for the salvation of souls, for the more the soul endures, the more she shows that she loves Me; loving Me she comes to know more of My truth, and the more she knows, the more pain and intolerable grief she feels at the offenses committed against Me.” As Christians, we understand that a life devoted to Christ will involve some degree of suffering as Christ himself said, “Amen, amen I say to you, that you shall lament and weep, but the world shall rejoice; and you shall be made sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.” [John 16:20] and Paul reminds us in his letter to the Philippians, “with all confidence, as always, so now also shall Christ be magnified in my body, wither it be by life, or by death. For to me, to live is Christ; and to die is gain.” [ Philippians 1: 20 – 21] If you may allow me further, recall the tremendous agony suffered by St. Job. I doubt few of us can compare our struggles to his. Job lost his children [all of them!] He lost his health as well as his lands and wealth. His friends whispered in his ears of his punishment never spoke ill of God. Though he may not have recognized it as such, he suffered redemptively and heroically – Praise God! What a tremendous example of fortitude and strength! “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: as it hath pleased the Lord so is it done: blessed be the name of the Lord. In all these things Job sinned not by his lips, nor spoke he any foolish thing against God.” [Job 1: 21 – 22]
A suffering soul pleases our Lord and draws us nearer and nearer to him to achieve holiness and by His grace, eternal life. Our late holy father, Pope, St. John Paul II described Redemptive Suffering as Salvific Suffering in his encyclical, Salvifici Doloris, ” As a result of Christ’s salvific work, man exists on earth with the hope of eternal life and holiness. And even though the victory over sin and death achieved by Christ in his Cross and Resurrection does not abolish temporal suffering from human life, nor free from suffering the whole historical dimension of human existence, it nevertheless throws a new light upon this dimension and upon every suffering: the light of salvation.” [ http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_letters/1984/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_11021984_salvifici-doloris.html ]
How we offer ourselves up to Christ is a question you must answer for yourselves, but in the words I offered above from Mother Angelica, “Suffering without love is wasted pain.” We are all called to die for Christ. We are called to this at every Mass. As Jesus offers Himself up for us, so to must we offer ourselves up for him, not only for ourselves, but for countless souls who scarcely recognize their own need for redemption and salvation. “I live, now not I; but Christ liveth in me. And that I live now in the flesh: I live in the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered himself for me.” [Galatians 2:20.]
Let me leave you with some parting scripture: “But if also you suffer any thing for justice’ sake, blessed are ye. And be not afraid of their fear, and be not troubled, but sanctify the Lord Christ in your hearts, being ready always to satisfy every one that asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you. [1Peter 3:15]. “We glory also in tribulations, knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience trial; and trial hope; And hope confoundeth not: because the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us.” ~ Romans 3: 3-5
I extend the blessing of God our Father to you, your families and loved ones. “For Christ therefore we are ambassadors, God as it were exhorting by us. For Christ, we beseech you, be reconciled to God.” [1 Corinthians 5:20]
All scripture is taken from the Douay-Rheims Catholic bible which pre-dates Vatican II. Note that for my purposes, I will never use your email or personal information in any manner. If you have questions about this or any of my prior postings, please contact me by reply. God love you!