Suffering - Part Three

Some may believe that St. Faustina had an easy life, one filled with extraordinary grace and little challenge. However, like many of the great saints before her, she suffered greatly; she had advanced tuberculosis and died at the young age of thirty-three. Besides her physical suffering, she suffered from rejection and humiliation, as well as her deep interior suffering from knowing of God's mercy and how we often reject Him. Her physical suffering at times was overwhelming, and she wrote, "Today my suffering increased somewhat: I not only feel greater pain all through my lungs, but also some strange pains in my intestines. I am suffering as much as my weak nature can bear..." (Diary, 953). She maintained her trust in God in spite of all her trials and tribulations. She wrote, "Oh, how pleasing are the hymns flowing from a suffering soul! All heaven delights in such a soul, especially when it is tested by God. It mournfully sings out its longing for Him. Great is its beauty, because it comes from God. The soul walks through the jungle of life, wounded by God's love. With one foot only it touches the ground" (Diary, 114).

While our spirit may be strong, the flesh is weak and at times we grow weary and get discouraged. We may ask, "What good is this?" "When will it end?" or, "Why me?" but we must keep our focus on Jesus and run the good race.

What can we do with our suffering? Must it be in vain? Suffering can be a gift used for the building up of the body of Christ; this can keep us from the hopelessness of despair. By suffering for others, we become Christ-like. "For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict which you saw and now hear to be mine" (Phil 1: 29). Again, St. Paul knew the value of suffering when he wrote, "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church..." (Col 1:24).

In a vision contrasting worldly people versus those who carry their cross well on earth, St. Faustina wrote: "One day, I saw two roads. One was broad, covered with sand and flowers, full of joy, music and all sorts of pleasures. People walked along it, dancing and enjoying themselves. They reached the end without realizing it. And at the end of the road there was a horrible precipice; that is, the abyss of hell. The souls fell blindly into it; as they walked, so they fell. And their number was so great that it was impossible to count them. And I saw the other road, or rather, a path, for it was narrow and strewn with thorns and rocks and the people who walked along it had tears in their eyes, and all kinds of sufferings befell them. Some fell down upon the rocks, but stood up immediately and went on. At the end of the road there was a magnificent garden filled with all sorts of happiness, and all these souls entered there. At the very first instant they forgot all their sufferings" (Diary, 153).

When we grow weary from the battles of daily life, let us reflect on Christ's Passion and the reward for those who are faithful. St. Faustina wrote: "There is a series of graces which God pours into the soul after these trials by fire. The soul enjoys intimate union with God. It has many visions, both corporeal and intellectual. It hears many supernatural words, and sometimes distinct orders. But despite these graces, it is not self-sufficient. In fact it is even less so as a result of God's graces, because it is now open to many dangers and can easily fall prey to illusions. It ought to ask God for a spiritual director; but not only must it pray for one, it must also make every effort to find a leader who is an expert in these things, just as a military leader must know the ways along which he will lead [his followers] into battle. A soul that is united with God must be prepared for great and hard-fought battles" (Diary, 121).

What are we to do with regards to our suffering brothers and sisters? Like St. Faustina, we are to be vessels of mercy. James writes, "What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and filled,' without the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead" (Jas 2:14-17).

Saint Faustina was told by the Lord that she was to be merciful to others. He told her, "I demand from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse or absolve yourself from it... It is to be a reminder of the demands of My mercy, because even the strongest faith is of no avail without works" (Diary, 742).

One day, when St. Faustina was serving as the porter at the convent gate, a most remarkable incident occurred. She recorded the following event in her Diary: "Jesus came to the main entrance today, under the guise of a poor young man. This young man, emaciated, barefoot and bareheaded, and with his clothes in tatters, was frozen because the day was cold and rainy. He asked for something hot to eat. So I went to the kitchen, but found nothing there for the poor. But, after searching around for some time, I succeeded in finding some soup, which I reheated and into which I crumbled some bread, and I gave it to the poor young man, who ate it. As I was taking the bowl from him, he gave me to know that He was the Lord of heaven and earth. When I saw Him as He was, He vanished from my sight. When I went back in and reflected on what had happened at the gate, I heard these words in my soul: My daughter, the blessings of the poor who bless Me as they leave this gate have reached My ears. And your compassion, within the bounds of obedience, has pleased Me, and this is why I came down from My throne - to taste the fruits of your mercy" (Diary, 1312).

As Eucharistic Apostles of The Divine Mercy, we should always strive to be merciful to others, because when we show compassion and console others in need, we are actually consoling the merciful Heart of Jesus. We are loving Him in the rejected, the lonely, the disabled, the elderly, and the dying.

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