Fellas, let’s talk about suffering. Obviously there is a great deal of it in the world- you are on the internet, you can see plenty of it. People commit horrible atrocities against one another or very petty ones. People do terrible things to themselves. People suffer calamities which befall them seemingly at random. The world seems full of darkness and misery; it seems, as the words of the Salve Regina describe it, to be a “vale of tears.”
And in many ways, it is, even for those of us who embrace the true faith and attempt to follow Our Lord’s commands for how to live our lives. Of course, we were never promised an absence of suffering in this life. In fact, we were promised the exact opposite: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Where do you think we are following Him to, brothers? To Heaven, yes; but the path to Heaven runs through Golgotha. St. Faustina Kowalska says that if angels could envy men (which they cannot), they would envy them for Eucharist and for suffering, because in suffering, offered to the Father, we are united to the glory of the Cross.
Now it must be said that the Lord forbids us from seeking out suffering on our own; He does not permit us to destroy ourselves, in whole (by suicide) or in part. Indeed, every good we receive is a gift from the Lord, and we should not deprive ourselves of them except in favor of higher goods: this is why fasting and celibacy are permitted (and indeed praiseworthy), while starving ourselves to death or castrating ourselves are not. Sometimes it can be difficult to judge whether we are truly working towards a higher good or merely acting out of pride, which is why particularly severe austerities ought only to be undertaken as we wield what St. Benedict calls “the weapons of obedience” against the Enemy; that is to say, we must submit to the supervision of a trustworthy and competent spiritual director.
But what about that suffering that has already found you, as you scroll through your timeline and your heart aches and you feel sad about who you are and what you do? Sure, you’re not dying of thirst (buddy if you are, hydration break rn) or being tortured creatively by Roman soldiers, but not all suffering is so dramatic. Sometimes it just feels like we simply cannot go sit to dinner with the family members that do not understand us, or figure out how we are going to get through all the work we have done this week, or like we simply cannot stand to live another day with that feel when no gf.
But my brothers, you are not alone in that time. The Lord is close to you, chained up alongside you in your moment of torment. He has been through this all before, and if you only reach out to Him and ask, He will lay His hand upon you to steady you through it. He will never leave you no matter how bad it gets or how viciously you betray Him. Remember, before He permits the devil to torment Job, God says “Have you seen my servant Job? There is no man like him among those who walk upon the earth!” He only permits Job to suffer so because He loves and prizes Job, and because He knows that Job will not fail.
Cry out, as Christ did, to the Father He has given you to share, and Your Father will hear you. Literally if you must, whisper or shout “Father!” Your Father, who hears all and knows all and has foreseen all, will not allow His child to suffer in vain. “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.” (Isaiah 49:15)
You are the Body of Christ. It is by the wounds which pierce that Body that God’s saving work is completed. Remember this.
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