“Be apostles, like him [St. Padre Pio, who modelled his life on the Divine Master], of prayer and suffering!”
– Pope St. John Paul II, addressing the “Servants of Suffering,” Dec 2, 2004
“You cannot conceive,” said Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez, “how great is the reparatory value of suffering.” Suffering, you see, nourishes and perfects love, and it is love alone that has any value in God’s eyes; it is love alone that save souls.
Do not think that “suffering” means unpleasantness. Quite the contrary. It may be the case that certain sufferings are unpleasant to bear; but our God is the God of joy. “Joy is the echo of God’s life in us.” (Bl. Dom Columba Marmion) The Cross is necessary to perfect our love, which is the cause of our joy. Here is a simple formula to remember this truth:
- Charity (love) unites us to God, the Source of joy.
- Suffering nourishes and perfects love, thereby uniting us more intimately to God.
- Therefore suffering nourishes and perfects joy.
Bl. Charles de Foucauld, most likely moved by love and humility, sometimes felt guilty that he was the unworthy recipient of such intense joy. He wanted to suffer like and for his Saviour. But, like Bl. Charles, we must remember that joy is a fruit of love; we can no more refuse this gift of God than a flower can refuse its fruit.
‘And not only so; but 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.’ (Rom. 5:3-5)
If we suffer, let us praise God; if we experience joy, let us praise Him!
Joy is still compatible with sorrow; don’t think that our union with God can be measured by feelings:
“Prayer, all prayer,” says Servant of God Fr. John A. Hardon, “is always efficacious. But prayer takes on extraordinary power to win graces, for the one praying and for all mankind, when it is united with patient suffering.”
Next time you suffer or make a sacrifice – be it ever so little – do it for God alone (and by extension, for souls, who are so dear to Him). “God and souls.” (St. Faustina)
Some Powerful Quotes About Prayer and Suffering
“You will save more souls through prayer and suffering than will a missionary through his teachings and sermons alone.” – Jesus to St. Faustina
“… by it [suffering] many more souls are saved than by the best of sermons.” – Little St. Therese (on the day of her canonization) to Servant of God Teresa Neumann
“It is blindness to avoid pain even in very small things, for not only is it of great worth to ourselves, but it serves to guard many from the torments of Hell.” – Sr. Josefa Menendez
“You know that sin is an infinite offense and needs infinite reparation . . . that is why I ask you to offer up your sufferings and labors in union with the infinite merits of My Heart. You know that My Heart is yours. Take It, therefore, and repair by It.”
– Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez