Sunday, April 30, 2017

Learning to Breathe: How Faith Got Us Through the ‘Pregnancy of Death’

When I wouldn’t abort my high-risk pregnancy, friends left, doctors scolded me, and family braced themselves for my possible death. But little Henry? He had some breathing lessons to teach me.

My four-year-old son, Henry, has a little song that he likes to chant: “Me and Mommy, best buddies together! Me and Mommy, best buddies forever!” I can’t help but smile when I hear this cheerful little chant, thinking to myself how very true it is. My pregnancy with Henry was probably the hardest out of my five pregnancies. And though it was the best pregnancy physically, emotionally, it was the toughest.
On November 22nd 2009, I had my fourth child—a beautiful baby girl who we named Anna. We spent the first week with her in complete happiness. Anna was a good baby. She nursed and slept well, and was for the most part, content. I now had two boys and two girls. Christmas was coming, and Anna’s big sister, Lucy, was going to turn four years old soon. Life was good.
Then on December 1st of that same year, as I was nursing Anna, I had a coronary dissection, which resulted in a massive heart attack. My life ended that day and when I woke up a week later on a vent, a whole new one began.
Believing that the dissection was connected to pregnancy hormones,  I was warned over and over to never get pregnant again. The thought of “no more babies” tore at my heart; I was only 35 and knew that I still had childbearing years ahead of me. But for the sake of my family, for the sake of the children I already had, I agreed to not have any more children.

“When is my baby brother coming?”

And then one day, a year later, my eight-year-old son asked me, “Mom, when is my baby brother coming? I want to play with him!” When I asked him what “baby brother” he was referring to, he answered, “The one in your belly.”
I laughed and told him that I had no baby in my belly. What he said next sent a supernatural fear that ran right through me: “Yes you do. You have a baby in your belly right now.”
Over the month, he repeated this three more times. Out of the blue, he would suddenly sigh and complain, “When is my baby brother coming? It’s taking so long!”
A few days later, I took a test. I was pregnant.

A pregnancy of fear

Unfortunately, there was no joy in this pregnancy, only fear. This fear was accompanied with much humiliation, as so many had a difficult time understanding how we could “allow” this pregnancy to happen. Relationships with family was strained, while other relationships with friends completely broke off. “How could you let this happen??” someone asked me. “How could you be so irresponsible??”
Though I felt that this question was unfair and none of their business, I informed them that we had practiced NFP. And with NFP, God has the final say.
Knowing I was going to need a lot of support, I looked up a doctor who claimed he was prolife. Expecting to find reassurance and comfort, I was stunned when this doctor advised that the best thing I could do was to abort before the baby grew any bigger. “Wait any longer, and it will just be more painful for both of you.” he said. That was the day I learned not everyone believes that life begins at conception.
My cardiologist was not happy with me either.  This hurt the most. Being his “rock star patient” who beat the odds against death, my doctors and nurses were full of praise and compliments every time they saw me.  But now, I sensed deep disappointment. Our doctor-patient relationship was strained as my doctor rolled up his sleeves to help me with this mess that I had gotten myself into.
Me and Dennis learned to keep our mouths shut about the pregnancy, though my growing belly was an all around pro-life statement wherever I went. “So how’s ‘the pregnancy of death’?” someone joked to me one day. Snide comments and anxious questions followed us wherever we went.
As days and weeks ticked by, I watched my belly grow bigger and bigger. The closer we came to the due date, the less time I felt I had to live. I spent a lot of time in front of the Blessed Sacrament asking God for strength to continue on with the pregnancy. There were times I was so overwhelmed with fear, I felt the temptation to end it. But the morals of my Catholic faith saved me from making such a decision. Knowing it was a serious sin, remembering it was a baby who had a right to life, gave me the courage to go on. Still, there were days when my faith was the only thing left to cling to.
Though my family was supportive, they were also afraid for me, and so for this reason, I didn’t feel I could really open up about my own fears. My friends who had supported me during my heart attack, bringing my family food and playing with my children while I recovered in the hospital, became very angry with me, stating that they “couldn’t watch me kill myself.” I lost all contact with them during my entire pregnancy. Even between me and Dennis, there was little joy. I bought baby items almost in secret, afraid to show some of the glimmer of excitement that was in my mother-heart for the baby I wanted to welcome. Having thought that we were through with children after my heart attack, we had gotten rid of all our baby things, so I had to buy everything all over again. I was absolutely thrilled to find the same bassinet that we had sold to a second-hand store still sitting there, waiting for us to buy it. I felt God’s loving encouragement despite the darkness of my pregnancy. I brought the bassinet home and set it up in our bedroom, happy to know that Max’s baby brother would share his same bassinet.

Breathing in, breathing out

As we neared the final days of pregnancy, I think my last straw was when my doctor advised me to make a living will. Others also encouraged me to do this, stating it would be much easier for them to know my wishes if I should die. So with a heavy heart, I wrote out my wishes that the baby be taken first, and if possible, save me too. I handed the note to Dennis and asked him to hide it. I didn’t want to see it.
One night,  I laid down on my bed for a rest. As I put my hands on my belly as I normally did, I felt it rise and fall. Confused, I looked down and realized that this was not coming from me. It was coming from the baby. Through my own belly, I could watch my baby breathe.
All babies in the womb do “practice breathing” at some point, preparing their lungs for birth. However, many moms aren’t aware of it or completely miss it since babies practice whenever they feel like it. Fortunately for me, Henry practiced breathing all the time. So much, in fact, that it was even caught on ultrasound. (See above pic.)
I watched in amazement as my baby breathed in and out, in and out, practicing breathing, preparing his body for his entrance into the world.  He was oblivious of the turmoil we were all in, or how his unexpected presence had turned our lives upside down. In his tiny mind, all was well in his world. He was warm and secure,  He was breathing, practicing, and living his life. This was a healing moment for me, watching my baby breathe.
I couldn’t get enough out of this miracle I was witnessing. Every day, Henry and I would breathe together. Excitedly I showed Dennis, putting his hand on my belly, waiting for the baby to practice breathing. And always on cue, little Henry would play his little trick, breathing in and out. In and out….
But mostly, at the end of the day, it would be just me and him, and we would breathe together. After a stressful appointment, or negative comments, I would shut the door of my room and lay quietly on my bed, waiting for him to show me he was eager to see me as I was learning to be to see him.
And soon, my belly would start to breathe all on its own. I would place one hand on my belly, and one hand on my heart, and together we practiced living our life quietly and simply, breathing in the breath of life and breathing out the negativity that wanted to kill us.

This gift of God

The day came for Henry to enter into the world and take his first real breath. He arrived by C-section, with me connected to heart monitors as a precaution. As I held him for the first time in my arms. I watched my baby breathe in and out, in and out. His weeks of practice paid off: he let out such a gusty loud cry that doctors and nurses were startled; believing that something had pinched him.
And those doctors? Most of them said I was “lucky.” One doctor said she was happy for me but wouldn’t treat me if I should get pregnant again. But one of them was humble enough to say, “I was wrong.”

Mom and Henry
Mom and Henry

Now, four years later, with my heart healthy and sound, life with five children can be a lot to handle. Me and Henry have a special relationship together, and though he doesn’t know it, I still find solace in his company. Sometimes after a busy day, as I tuck him in and watch him sleep, I put my hand on his belly and close my eyes, and we breathe together. Breathing in life, breathing negativity out. Breathing in God’s healing. Remembering that rocky time together. But mostly, cherishing this gift . . . the gift of Henry, and the gift of grace that helped me trust in God, the author of life.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Divine Mercy Sunday 2017

From my prospective it has been a long hard lent. Lots of lessons to be learned. The most profound move for me has been to see and understand the scripture relating to the last 40 days of Christ Life from His prospective. Perhaps it is impossible to really grasp all that He was going through but He gives some pretty big hints.

Mark 14:34 " My Soul is sorrowful to the point of death," "Stay here and keep watch with Me."

Why was Jesus so sorrowful?? Why did He groan with emotional pain as He prayed alone in the garden?? Why did He sweat Blood?? Perhaps part of the answer lies in another statement He made,  Mark 26:40, "Could you not watch one hour with Me," He asked Peter.

Why did Jesus say to His Father, "My Father if it is possible let this cup pass from Me, yet not as I will but as You will."

I believe that the lack of faith of those closest to Jesus was enough for Him to be in despair. Jesus gave everything but His Life for them while walking and talking and teaching them for 3 1/2 years. If they didn't get it how was anyone else going to? How could He have failed to the point of them not even being able to pray for one hour with Him?

So we move on and Jesus is betrayed to an even deeper level by Peter and the other disciples. He is scourged, mocked and murdered while those closest to Him watch ran away or directly deny knowing Him.

At one point Jesus called Peter out for not believing what Jesus told him, "Get behind Me Satan." How serious it was and is not to believe the teaching of Jesus.  For Peter to decide in front of the others that the most important and difficult part of the message was not true because it, "hurt too much"  was very serious. Was Peter thinking of Jesus or himself. Did he not so enjoy being with the Master and being a follower that he didn't want anything painful to change all of that??  As a follower you can accept some of the teaching or reject it but as a teacher you must tell the whole truth, believe and live the whole truth. A much more difficult, uncomfortable  position to be in.

It all had to change in order for the message of Jesus to be available to this day. In order that there would be a resurrection, that Jesus would return and continue to teach those who mocked and scorned and crucified Him. I have wondered if any of them apologized to Him. He met them were they were at, allowing Thomas to put his hand in the Wound on His Side. Thomas needed to be absolutely sure it was Jesus living not an imposter. Some people are like that. No matter how much Christ shows His Love for them they have to be sure.

As I consider this day as Divine Mercy Sunday scheduled so soon after Easter it is because of the  great Mercy shown to His disciples, His friends  so soon after the crucifixion. From the Diary of St. Faustina, "The greatest sinner deserves My Mercy the most."

Mankind sinned greatly to His face and continues to this day.  We can't pretend that we are actually better than those who turned Him over to pilot and said, "Crucify Him, Crucify Him."

It is a struggle moment by moment not to be a taker but to somehow try to
be a giver.

To be a person who says, "Father forgive them for they know not what they
do. "

 And go on to wash their feet.

For me this is what Divine Mercy is about, 1 John 4:19: "We Love Because He
First Loved Us."

Most Sincerely, on this Glorious Day,

~Margaret of Souls for Jesus

Sunday, April 16, 2017


You Shall Believe

Gospel - JN 20:1-9
On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church
2174 Jesus rose from the dead “on the first day of the week.” Because it is the “first day,” the day of Christ’s Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the “eighth day” following the sabbath, it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ’s Resurrection. For Christians it has become the first of all days, the first of all feasts, the Lord’s Day (he kuriake hemera, dies dominica)—Sunday.
647 O truly blessed Night, sings the Exsultet of the Easter Vigil, which alone deserved to know the time and the hour when Christ rose from the realm of the dead! But no one was an eyewitness to Christ’s Resurrection and no evangelist describes it. No one can say how it came about physically. Still less was its innermost essence, his passing over to another life, perceptible to the senses. Although the Resurrection was an historical event that could be verified by the sign of the empty tomb and by the reality of the apostles’ encounters with the risen Christ, still it remains at the very heart of the mystery of faith as something that transcends and surpasses history. This is why the risen Christ does not reveal himself to the world, but to his disciples, “to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people.”
625 Christ’s stay in the tomb constitutes the real link between his passible state before Easter and his glorious and risen state today. The same person of the “Living One” can say, “I died, and behold I am alive for evermore.”

From “The Stations of the Cross” Testimony of Catalina Rivas (Pg.9)
† We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You because, by Your holy cross, You have redeemed the world.
Holy Friday was followed by the glorious dawn of the Sunday of the Resurrection. It is My redeeming Blood that waters the arid lands that have become the deserts in the world of souls. And this Blood will always run over the earth as long as there is one man to save. I have not died on the Cross, and gone through a thousand tortures to populate Hell with souls, but rather, to populate Heaven with chosen ones. I say again, My children, poor sinners! Do not distance yourselves from Me. I wait for you night and day at the Tabernacle. I will not reproach you for your crimes; I will not throw your sins in your face. What I will do is to wash you with the Blood of My wounds. Do not be afraid, come to Me. You do not know how much I love you. Come now, My children. Come to Me. I am your Lord Who awaits you in the Tabernacle. I am completely present in Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Do you want to know Me? Then come and spend time with Me. I love you, dear children.
"Come to Me now, I am waiting for you."
† Jesus, most obedient, meek and humble of heart, have mercy on us.

Monday, April 10, 2017

What Everyone Missed About Christ During Holy Week (Including Me)

It happened at Mass today.

I was sitting comfortably in the pew taking in the extended reading of Matthew’s Gospel for Palm Sunday and Holy Week when it struck me like a bolt out of the blue.

Everyone missed Christ. Everyone.

Let me explain.

As Jesus Christ’s life came to a catastrophic and horrific end, he was utterly and tragically alone. Oh certainly, God the Father was still united in his inextricably triune fashion with Son and Spirit. But as far as finding company on this dark road to death (even when considering his friends and family), Jesus was all by himself. Though many watched and wailed, lamented and followed, they didn’t – couldn’t – fully understand the drama unfolding before their very eyes. If to sympathize is to feel sorry for someone out of some semblance of understanding, it was impossible sympathize in the purest form. If to empathize is to envision a walk in someone’s shoes, no one could bear this path. Everybody – everybody – misunderstood him. And, thus, he was alone.

Somehow, in spite of best (or worst) intentions, everyone seemed to miss out on who Jesus Christ was and what he was trying to do.

Just consider Holy Week…

As they raised their palms and threw their cloaks on the dusty path ahead of him, some lauded a prophet, others a king, still others shouted for the miracle-worker who had healed a father, mended a grandmother, raised a daughter, cured a friend. But still, they missed who he truly was.

As the disciples shared the somber Passover with him and listened to his strange words mixing the breaking of bread with visions of a broken body and a shared cup of wine with the spilling of innocent blood, they wondered at his message. And when he described his betrayal and dispersion of the disciples, they fumed and fussed and denied and assured. But somehow, they missed what he was saying.

As he asked for his friends to sit vigil in the garden, imploring them, just once, for their strength during his blackest moment of fear and weakness, he found them soundly sleeping as the pall of death encroached upon him. They missed how, in suffering, he ached for their support.

As Judas’ warm kiss pressed upon his cheek, the traitor hoped the silver would enrich their work and the authorities would advance their cause. But as the King of Peace was roughly handled and taken away, Judas missed the kind of king Jesus was called to be.

The Sanhedrin shouting blasphemy, the Roman Governor sneering “What is Truth?”, the bloodthirsty crowds demanding crucifixion, the mocking guards ironically crowning him with thorns, the smug passersby asserting upon his crucifixion, “He could save others; he cannot save himself,” and the thief at his side cursing him for not rescuing them from the jaws of hell. All saw in him what they wanted to see, and missed what he was.

And in the darkest hours of evil’s apparent victory – the death of the man they thought God – the truest believers hid, shuddered and were consumed with terror. “How could this be,” they struggled. “How could this be?”

As I sat there listening to the Gospel relaying one human misunderstanding of Christ after another, it dawned on me that Holy Week (to paraphrase Winston Churchill) is a time when so much was missed by so many in so little time…

And yet it is easy – so easy – for me to sit in my comfortable, suburban twenty-first century pew on a brilliant Sunday morning and wonder how all the friends and enemies of Christ could have missed the unfolding divine narrative of suffering and grace. How could they have missed what he was saying? How could they have missed who he was (and is)?

The answer is quite simple.

In the thick of it, in the midst of the physical, emotional and spiritual drama that serves as the epicenter of all human history: the redemption of humanity through divine sacrifice, how could anyone truly grasp the enormity of what was happening? Just as the disciples and witnesses were wrestling with a blind man regaining sight, a lost friend raised from the dead and a mass of thousands fed with a handful of fish and bread, they next found themselves considering the unparalleled wisdom of the Sermon on the Mount, the teaching of the Lord’s Prayer and the correction of haughty, merciless dogma of the Scribes and Pharisees. And that’s not even considering the hundreds of undocumented conversations, parables and miracles that only Christ’s contemporaries were privy to. Finally, to top off the dizzying array of wisdom and works of wonder from the Son of God, he is ruthlessly snatched, tortured, humiliated and executed. When honestly reconsidering what my reaction would be if I were in the disciples’ shoes, I am almost reduced to saying, “Too much. It’s all just too much for me to handle.”

A wise man once said, “Faith means believing in advance what only makes sense in reverse.” And T.S. Eliot, commenting on the arrogance of moderns pronouncing judgement on the naivete of their predecessors, “Someone once said, ‘The dead writers are remote from us because we know so much more than they did.’ Precisely, and they are that which we know.”

Today, we are blessed to encounter Christ’s story in reverse. Today, we are gifted with the bold questions and silly squabbles and acts of bravery and moments of cowardice that Christ’s contemporaries engaged in, if only to better learn from them. Christ’s story is still mysterious and extraordinary, but we have the benefit of hindsight (which none of Christ’s contemporaries had, even though they had the teachings and pronouncements of the Prophets including John the Baptist). Today we are encouraged that when we fail, so did Peter…and when we feel beyond redemption, so did Peter. And yet he wasn’t and nor are we. We are reminded that when we feel overconfident in our version of the Truth, so did Pilate…and yet the True Criterion stood before him (and stands before us). We are heartened that, just as flocks of exuberant people with palms and cloaks cheered a gentle man astride a donkey, we don’t need to fully comprehend the sheer magnificence of Christ to love him. We just need to trust and feel the joy in knowing that God is near. And we know that when we are tempted, like one thief, to curse God for not rescuing us from our suffering…we are called to praise God, like the other thief, for the paradise that ultimately awaits us.

Today’s Gospel reading reminded me that these very human people – and all they missed in Christ – have been indispensable guides in my faltering walk of faith. Why? Because, too often, I miss Christ too. Their mistakes are mine. Their oversight is mine. Their confusion and desperation is mine. But thankfully, their penetrating hope, dogged perseverance and humble gratitude for Christ’s Grace is mine too.

This Holy Week let’s not miss Christ. Let’s see him in his raw agony and brilliant glory.

And be eternally grateful.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Loss of Mystery and the Loss of Childhood

In the aftermath of the sexual revolution of 1960s — which espoused sex education, the contraceptive mentality, no-fault divorce, and legalized abortion on demand — an anti-life and anti-child philosophy has prevailed over much of Western civilization, where European nations are barely replacing their populations or suffering a decline in birth rate. In a culture of death that slaughters 1.5 million pre-born babies in the womb each year, permits infanticide in the procedure known as partial-birth abortion, and tolerates physician-assisted suicide in the name of mercy and a quality of life ethic, life is cheap and loses its sacredness. Whenever life loses its sacredness and society considers “man’s life’s as cheap as beasts,” to quote from King Lear, then the mystery of life as a gift and blessing diminishes.

When children in the womb are designated “fetal material” or “product of conception,” then human life becomes reduced to mere matter or animal life with no divine origin or eternal destiny. The attack on the children in the womb entirely destroys the sense of human life as a divine mystery or precious gift. If human life is not precious or sacred, then everything else that encompasses a human life also loses its spiritual dimension and suffers a loss of mystery. Thus, everything is measured in purely utilitarian terms of usefulness, productivity, efficiency, cost effectiveness, and quality of life. Nothing is absolutely inviolable, neither the innocence of children, the holiness of marriage, the inalienable rights of human beings, or the sanctity of divine law. Destroying the mystery of human life as a priceless gift undermines the whole nature of a culture and transforms all of its institutions and its entire way of life. With the loss of the sense of the sacred comes the cult of the profane.

The classics of children’s literature revere and honor the gift of human life. No amount of gold in the world is more precious to King Midas than his daughter Marygold. Diamond’s baby brother and sister in At the Back of the North Wind are gifts from heaven: “Where did you get your eyes so blue?/ Out of the sky as I came through.” The deepest longing in the heart of a woman is the desire for a child in several of the Grimm folktales: “How dull it is without any children about us,” says the poor woman in “Tom Thumb,” adding, “if we could only have one . . . how happy I should be! It would indeed be having our heart’s desire.” Without this recognition of the mystery of life and the blessings of children, all of life loses its sacredness. “Safe sex” replaces the mystery of romance, and cohabitation becomes the equal of the sanctity of marriage.

Without the acknowledgement of God as the author of life and the giver of all good gifts, the sense of mystery vanishes from every facet of human experience from birth to death. The magic of childhood disappears as a time of innocence and becomes a period for indoctrination in sex education, and old age loses its reverence and dignity. Without a sense of the inherent goodness of the miracle of human life, man becomes the judge of life and death and attributes value arbitrarily, determining that an “unwanted child” or a handicapped baby has no worth, whereas a wanted child or healthy baby possesses value. When mystery and a sense of the sacred vanish, then nothing is absolutely evil or intrinsically good, all matters of right and wrong become relative and variable — only a matter of political opinion rather than a question of absolute truth. When life is not sacred, then it can be manipulated, used, or abused by way of in vitro fertilization, cloning, and fetal harvesting.

Because children’s classics depict the child as a great wonder and blessing, then other facets of life also preserve their mystery, sacredness, or awe in these stories. Whereas luck in classical myths or Christian folktales is always equated with divine intervention, luck loses its aura of divinity in an age of anxiety obsessed with control — birth control, population control, government control, thought control (political correctness). Technology and science, rather than an abandonment to Divine Providence, come to regulate life when pills, abortifacients, sterilization, surgical abortion, and physician-assisted suicide become available and acceptable — modern methods around which people “organize their lives” to use a phrase from the Planned Parenthood v. Casey Supreme Court decision.

Whereas in children’s literature the home is a domestic church where family members become sources of grace to each other (“I do think families are the most beautiful things in all the world! remarks Jo in Little Women), in the culture of death the home assumes “a plurality of forms,” to use the language of the United Nations, referring to cohabitation and same-sex marriages. If life is not precious, then marriage also loses its sanctity and its sacramental nature and becomes merely a temporary, convenient association based on mutual pleasure rather than an institution designed for the procreation and care of children.

And whereas in children’s classics, goodness is always beautiful and attractive in the form of innocent children or beautiful princesses and evil is ugly and loathsome in the form of repulsive witches and disgusting monsters, the modern sensibility destroys the beauty of goodness by attacking purity and chastity in government-funded, aggressive sex education which eliminates the mystery of sexuality and procreation by cheapening it to sterile “safe sex” outside of marriage. The sublimity of virginity, love, and marriage are degraded to the level of sex as recreation. While children’s literature represents evil as a Medusa’s head which turns men into stone if they gaze at the monster, the contemporary world exaggerates the virtue of tolerance, the passive, indifferent acceptance of evil as a non-threatening example of “choice” or “diversity” in a pluralistic culture.

While good and evil are always categorical, absolute, and irreconcilable in children’s literature — the four friends versus the stouts and weasels in The Wind of the Willows, the Princess and Curdie versus the goblins in The Princess and the Goblin — evil is equivocal and ambivalent in the modern world, a matter of choice, lifestyle, and opinion. While truth, beauty, and goodness are consistently associated with the splendor and glory of light — realities which are divine or holy in origin and nature — truth, beauty, and goodness in the late twentieth century are determined by surveys of opinion, by the shifting tides of politics, by the erratic judgments of the Supreme Court, and by the fashionable views of Hollywood, the media, and the intellectual elite. Thus, the loss of mystery in the late twentieth century coincides with the death of the child and the attack on the sacredness of life — the primal mystery.

When life is no longer a miracle, goodness loses its purity, truth is deprived of its divine authority, and beauty loses its glory. A profane culture that destroys life also desecrates the magic of childhood, the mystery of romance, the holiness of marriage, and the sanctity of the home.

Monday, April 3, 2017


Presence of God – O Jesus Crucified, teach me the Science of the Cross; make me understand the value of suffering.
for post on the value of sufferingThe Passion of Jesus teaches us in a concrete way that in the Christian life we must be able to accept suffering for the love of God. This is a hard, repugnant lesson for our nature, which prefers pleasure and happiness; however, it comes from Jesus, the Teacher of truth and of life, the loving Teacher of our souls, who desires only our real good. If He commends suffering to us, it is because suffering contains a great treasure.
Suffering in itself is an evil and cannot be agreeable; if Jesus willed to embrace it in all its plenitude and if He offers it to us, inviting us to esteem and love it, it is only in view of a superior good which cannot be attained by any other means–the sublime good of the redemption and the sanctification of our souls.
Although man, by his twofold nature, is subject to suffering, God willed to exempt our first parents from it by their preternatural gifts; but through sin, these gifts were lost forever, and suffering inevitably entered our life. The gamut of sufferings which has harassed humanity is the direct outcome of the disorder caused by sin, not only by original sin, but also by actual sins. Yet the Church chants: O happy fault! Why? The answer lies in the infinite love of God which transforms everything and draws from the double evil of sin and suffering the great good of the redemption of the human race. When Jesus took upon Himself the sins of mankind, He also assumed their consequences, that is, suffering and death; and this suffering, embraced by Him during His whole life, and especially in His Passion, became the instrument of our redemption. Pain, the result of sin, becomes in Jesus and with Jesus, the means of destroying sin itself. Thus a Christian may not consider pain only as an undesirable burden from which he must necessarily recoil, but he must see in it much more–a means of redemption and sanctification.
“O Lord, You do not like to make us suffer, but You know it is the only way to prepare us to know You as You know Yourself, to prepare us to become like You. You know well that if You sent me but a shadow of earthly happiness, I should cling to it with all the intense ardor of my heart, and so You refuse me even this shadow … because You wish that my heart be wholly Yours.
“Life passes so quickly that it is obviously better to have a most splendid crown and a little suffering, than an ordinary crown and no suffering. When I think that, for a sorrow borne with joy, I shall be able to love You more for all eternity, I understand clearly that if You gave me the entire universe, with all its treasures, it would be nothing in comparison to the slightest suffering. Each new suffering, each pang of the heart, is a gentle wind to bear to You, O Jesus, the perfume of the soul that loves You; then You smile lovingly, and immediately make ready a new grief, and fill the cup to the brim, thinking the more the soul grows in love, the more it must grow in suffering too.
“What a favor, my Jesus, and how You must love me to send me suffering! Eternity itself will not be long enough to bless You for it. Why this predilection? It is a secret which You will reveal to me in our heavenly home on the day when You will wipe away all our tears.
“Lord, You ask me for this suffering, this sorrow…. You need it for souls, for my soul. O Jesus, since You have made me understand that You would give me souls through the Cross, the more crosses I meet, the more ardent my thirst for suffering becomes.
“I am happy not to be free from suffering here; suffering united with love is the only thing that seems desirable to me in this vale of tears” (Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Letters, 32,50,23,40,58,224 – Story of a Soul).


Note from Dan: These posts are provided courtesy of Baronius Press and contain one of two meditations for the day. If you would like to get the full meditation from one of the best daily meditation works ever compiled, you can learn more here:  Divine Intimacy. Please honor those who support us by purchasing and promoting their products.
Art for this post on The Value of Suffering: An angel comforting Jesus before his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane by Carl Heinrich Bloch, 1873, Museum of National History at Frederiksborg Castle, Hillerød, Denmark, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.