Why me? Why so much pain? Why do I have to suffer? Why is it so inconvenient? I cannot go out with friends. I don’t have a normal life like other people. I cannot have my normal routine back.
These are my regular rant of complaints. On some especially bitter days, I’d say, did I do something wrong to cause my suffering? Is it my fault? Is it my family members’? My situation? My surroundings?
But Fr. Anthony Ho has a better take on suffering than my rants can offer. Suffering is a result of original sin because we are devoid of our original state of Holiness (the fall of man in the book of Genesis 3).
Jesus was born to partake of our human nature, to partake of our human suffering particularly His suffering on the cross. Suffering on the cross was not necessary for Him but is necessary for us as the natural consequences of our sins. Love and sacrifice cannot be separated.
Fr. Ho mentioned redemptive suffering: when we unite our suffering with Jesus on the cross. Redemptive suffering is when whatever pain we have to endure is more worthy to be OFFERED UP. We can ask the Lord to accept these pains as intercessory prayers for the redemption of souls. It is sharing in the suffering of Jesus on the cross.
Others are given suffering so that God’s glory will be manifested just like the story of the blind man in the Gospel of John (Jn. 9:1-12), just like the story of the leper in the Gospel of Luke (Lk 5:12).
Lucy Rodjito enumerated numerous persons with disabilities but who were miraculously cured through the intercession of St. Padre Pio. God’s healing grace and mercy indeed!
I too personally witnessed miracles of healing thanks to medication, therapy and persistent prayers. Exactly five years ago, my mom suffered a stroke. She was paralyzed all along her left side. She could barely move on her own; couldn’t lift a finger to feed nor bathe herself. Three years ago, my son suffered from depression and a sleep disorder. Both my mom and my son are now doing well. My mom is back on her feet. My son is trying to survive the rigours of engineering studies. Now, it is my turn to suffer from intermittent allergies.
Through all these sufferings, my heart breaks again and again. But the experiences give me lessons to remain steadfast in prayer and to be fervent in my belief that God never fails to answer us according to our needs.
A lot of saints prayed for more sufferings so they could share in the cross of Jesus. Take the case of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus who suffered from prolonged sickness, St. Rita of Cascia on the pains of losing her family, our beloved St. Padre Pio who suffered physical and emotional pain from his stigmata. They all offered up their sufferings for love of Jesus.
It is a good opportunity to study the lives of the saints; to study and be inspired by the people who suffered but perfected their lives to be with God.
Fr. Ho mentioned that God allows physical suffering to fortify our spiritual lives. Ordinary pain and suffering give us the opportunity for extraordinary graces from God. And the most bittersweet reflection I can share is knowing that God takes care of us, especially during these times.
Just like most normal parents who give special attention and time to their sick children, I have the courage to say, God is likewise giving us this special time and attention, most especially to receive our intercessory prayers.
Fr. Ho mentioned the potential pitfalls of suffering: NOT to increase suffering by overthinking and NOT to inflict it on ourselves and on other people. So, we have to ask, is my suffering my own doing?
We should avoid aggravating sufferings by thinking too much about past wounds and about possible sufferings in the future. We cannot change the future. That is why we brace ourselves for today asking for God’s blessings daily. We have to exercise prudence, discipline, mortification and penance.
When we suffer, we also exercise the power of the will—when we suffer, we train our will. If we are impatient, that means we are not yet holy. We have to fix our immaturity. We have to work on our virtues and acknowledge our wrongdoings; to recognize the shortness of life and to detach from earthly things. This is the way to purify our souls.
VIRTUES can manifest from suffering as they can be used as a lesson or call to come back to God. We are called to be apostles: the exterior apostolic mission and the interior apostolic mission (e.g. attend mass, prayers, devotions, rosary and intercessory sufferings). Through whatever pain or suffering we endure, may we be enjoined to keep an eternal perspective because God has set eternity in our hearts. Read verses Matt. 6: 19-20 ; Rm. 8:17 on suffering.
As we set our eyes toward this new year, may we never forget the reason God sent His only Son.
Written by: A Spiritual Daughter of Saint Padre Pio
PPPG Bloggers the faithful members of St. Mary's Padre Pio Prayer Group
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