June 2014 - Suffering, the Container of Love
It is necessary to suffer to be holy. Confronted with this high requirement, man must take care not to deprive himself of this suffering by denying and rejecting its value and merits.
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
Although a saying claims that “it is necessary to suffer to be beautiful”, it is even more appropriate and true to say that “it is necessary to suffer to be holy”. Indeed, suffering smooths the roughness of the soul, purifies, saves and strengthens it. And thus, suffering joyfully carries the soul towards God, destroying on its passage all the diseases, all the blows, all the stains that could weaken and denature the soul. The very nature of the soul drives it towards God. The soul was created with no other aim than the worship of, and the intimate friendship with, its Creator. Still, the soul must merit this holy friendship; it is still necessary for the soul, on account of original sin, to follow the only way that God has traced for souls – that of the suffering of the Cross.
Confronted with this high requirement, man must take care not to deprive himself of this suffering by denying and rejecting its value and merits.
Too often in the face of suffering, our reactions are poor and sterile sentimental storms, long sighs and vain lamentations that take the place of appreciation and thanksgiving. Suffering displays itself to the world, seeking its pity and an artificial comfort – nothing but a vain and unhealthy self-seeking, which, far from attenuating the suffering, increases it. Deceived by illusions, habituated to do what requires the lesser effort, the man who suffers does not realize that the effervescence of his passions blinds him to reality and throws him into the pangs of mundane concerns that poison and unrelentingly accentuate his wounds. Thinking that he is suffering, in fact he actually rejects the necessary suffering that leads to a higher life.
With Holy Scripture, which teaches the benefits to be drawn from temptation and its formative and protective role in the lives of men, we should ask ourselves about suffering: “He who has not suffered, what does he know?”
By suffering, our nature struggles: any childbirth is painful and that which awakens us to the truth is more painful than any other. But only the banishment of sentimental reactions will allow the soul to show its real worth. Indeed, suffering teaches us to stand firm, to get out of ourselves and of vain worries, to joyously step into the combat because life is but a combat in which, to be able to win, it is necessary to take resolutely the side of God, a side which is no other than that of friendship. By sending His Only Son to suffer, has not God offered men the most beautiful friendship, matrix of all other friendships and a profound reflection of His divine charity? How then could we forget the worth of this suffering? How could we want to avoid it? It is salutary and necessary for love to undergo the test of suffering, particularly in the highest form of love, friendship.
A love without the container of suffering would be extremely suspect. Suffering is too valuable; it alone confers to man his nobility and teaches him how to really love, that is, in truth.
The devil knows it; he hates suffering and wants to make it hated. He simply does not want man to enter into the order of Redemption through this way of the Cross, which speaks to him of supernatural friendship. This idea is unbearable for him because every time it condemns him again and reminds him of the reasons for its own forfeiture, which is eternal and without any hope.
This is the way which has been opened by Christ. Honor consists in following it in His footsteps, without fear. It is thus necessary to live according to virtue, in the light and order of charity and not according to fleeting impressions that upset and mislead. God does not ask us to seek suffering: He simply asks us to accept it as a gift, an effect of His grace. And as God is supremely good and just, how could we doubt, even for a moment, that He will not add to this grace all those other graces necessary for its acceptance?
For this reason, willing to distribute His grace to men, God strikes especially those whom He loves and wants to bring always closer to Him.
Then, as a pressing invitation to follow Him, this special mark sounds at the gates of souls: “Duc in altum” – “Launch out into the deep.”
In Christo sacerdote et Maria.
Fr. Yves le Roux