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Archive for the ‘suffering’ Category

Michelangelo 1498–1499

Michelangelo 1498–1499

In her Spiritual Testimonies #32, St. Teresa writes that, “suffering is the way to truth”.  The Lord spoke to St. Teresa about suffering and reminded her that suffering is given to those whom the Lord loves. He asked her to recall the way St Paul had rejoiced in what he had suffered. The Lord goes on to tell her:

“When you see My Mother holding Me in her arms, don’t think she enjoyed those consolations without heavy torment. From the time Simeon spoke those words to her, My Father gave her clear light to see what I was to suffer. . . .Believe daughter, that, My Father gives greater trials to anyone whom He loves more; and love responds to these.” 

“How can I show you greater love than by desiring for you what I have desired for Myself? Behold these wounds, for your sufferings have never reached this point.”

“By this means you will help me weep over the loss of those who follow the way of the world, and you will understand that all your desires, cares, and thoughts must be employed in how to do the opposite.”

Trials are more for those who love him more, because those who love him more strive to overcome the world and all their desires that might lead them away from Him.

 

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On the Feast of the Assumption the Lord showed St. Teresa in a rapture the Queen of Angels in her ascent into heaven and how she was received there with all solemnity and great joy. The effects St. Teresa received were “a deeper desire to undergo difficult trials” and she was also “left with a longing to serve our Lady”. (The Book of Her Life, Chap 39:26)

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Following all the many trials and persecutions St. Teresa received in setting up the first foundation, she fell into a rapture on the Feast of the Assumption. This time she was reflecting upon her many sins when the rapture occurred. In it she saw herself “vested in a white robe of shining brightness” but at first didn’t see who was clothing her in it. Later she saw that it was the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph that were putting this robe on her.

St. Teresa goes on to explain, “I was given to understand that I was now cleansed of my sins. After being clothed and while experiencing the most marvelous delight and glory, it seemed to me than that our Lady took me by the hands. She told me I made her very happy in serving the glorious St. Joseph, that I should believe that what I was striving for in regard to the monastery would be accomplished, that the Lord and those two would be greatly served in it, that I shouldn’t fear there would ever be any failure in this matter even though the obedience which was to be give was not to my liking, because they would watch over us, and that her Son had already promised us He would be with us, that as a sign that this was true she was giving me a jewel. It seemed to me she placed around my neck a very beautiful golden necklace to which was attached a highly valuable cross.” (The Book of Her Life, Chap 33:14)

Because of St. Teresa’s work and devotion, Carmelites strive to serve Our Lady and St. Joseph and to foster personal devotion to both of them. In a previous post, I mentioned how St. Teresa set St. Joseph at one door and Our Lady at the other in each of the foundations that she set up. She had great trust in their protection and intercession and we should too.

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This is our work: seeking union with God.

Carmelites devote themselves to the spiritual life. This does not mean that we shut ourselves up as hermits, living in isolation from others where we can live quiet, undisturbed lives. Our concern is for others and their welfare. This means that we are not only to desire, but to work, act and  suffer for the salvation of others. To do this we concentrate all our efforts on seeking God and trying to live a holy life in order to please Him. Then we will be “acquiring a power of action and impetration capable of obtaining the salvation of many souls.” (Divine Intimacy, #317 by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD)

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sorrowful mother

Mary lived only for her Son and accepted all that happened to Him. This was an excruciating martyrdom for any creature to endure. Her love cost her indescribable suffering – to see her child in so much pain. Yet, this scene at the foot of the cross expresses her love for us too. Her love aided Christ in His mission. She united herself to Jesus by her presence at the foot of the cross uniting her will to the Father’s will at this moment and for this purpose, joining with this her prayers and sacrifices.

She will continue to carry out her mission to lead souls to her Son until the end of time. It is still her mission to help convert sinners and to help believers to grow in holiness.

Oh! What love our Mother has for us! In order to bring us to life she had to give her Son up to death!

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St. John of the Cross

“In the Carmel of Granada he gave his spiritual daughter, Maria Machuca, the holy habit and the name Maria de la Cruz. She was brought to him in the speak room and it was remarked that he would probably “love her greatly because she was called ‘of the Cross.’ ” He replied: “Indeed I will love her greatly if she is a friend of the cross.” He used to urge the persons with whom he dealt to take the cross into their hearts. They should have “great predilection for suffering, purely for the sake of Christ alone, without seeking any earthly consolation.” Often he would say, “My daughter, ask for nothing other than the cross, and that, in fact, without consolation; for that is perfection.”   (Science of the Cross, Edith Stein p. 276)

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In his hidden life, Our Lord’s humility is evident by his poverty and obedience.He was submissive to the will of the Father and left his exalted position to become a little baby. His self-effacement remained during his entire life as a man. He lived in a poor estate,often the object of ingratitude and suffered uncomplainingly. As a child he submitted to his earthly parents and was obedient to them.

When he began his public life proclaiming by word and deed that he was the Son of God, he did so in a discreet, clear manner and spoke in a way to reach the minds of all people of good will. He was totally forgetful of himself, always thinking of others. He surrounded himself with ignorant and unrefined people. Because of this he was little esteemed. This fact is so counter to the actions of the proud. Jesus showed preference to those the world despises: the poor, the afflicted, little children, and those the world disowns. When he taught, he made sure his teaching was plain and simple. Therefore, he was in no way seeking the admiration of others.

Jesus did not engage in calculated acts of austerity. He simply ate what everyone else was eating, he attends a wedding, and was a frequent guest at banquets. He shunned popularity, often having to slip away to avoid the praise and exaltation of the crowds. This was most evident when the people wanted to make him king.

He was totally dependent on God the Father. He did nothing of himself, but only out of submissiveness to his Father. When he spoke it was only to give expression to some doctrine. He never sought his own glory but only that of his Father.

In his passion, he is a man of sorrow. Wearied and betrayed by his friends, he bears the outrages that are mounded upon him. Even though deserted by his friends, he still loves them. He suffers all sorts of insults and offenses and does so in silence. Verbally abused and defamed, he doesn’t justify himself. Even when treated like a fool, he utters not a word. Unjustly condemned, and still he says nothing. Those to whom he had done so much good choose a murder instead. He allows himself to be physically mistreated: whipped, crowned with thorns, mocked and crucified – all without complaint.

Sneered at and insulted by those who hated him, he prays for them and makes excuses for them before his Father. Abandoned by his followers, deprived of his dignity as a man, stripped of his reputation and honor, he surrenders to it all for love of sinful man.

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Sadness

The greatest enemy of spiritual joy is sadness. It is so easy to serve God fervently, to spread goodness and practice virtue when we are aware of God’s presence in our lives. However, when we experience feelings of sadness and despondency we act in the opposite manner. We have no inner peace, we are troubled and down-hearted. We go about weak and all our good resolutions have diminished. We may even avoid praying. Yet prayer is what we really should do.
“Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray.” (James 5:13)
When we are suffering from sadness we should turn to prayer so that our hearts can be strengthened. Prayer puts us into God’s presence and this will lift our spirit and fill our souls with confidence.Our awarenss of God’s joyful presence will bring peace, the peace for which our hearts long.
Rejoice in the Lord! We celebrate this season of Easter for fifty days! We have reasons for joy…
Beloved brethren and sons and daughters, is it not normal that joy should dwell in us, when our hearts contemplate or rediscover, in faith, the fundamental and simple reasons for joy? God has so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son; through His Spirit, God’s presence does not cease to enfold us with His tenderness and to fill us with His life; and we are journeying towards the blessed transfiguration of our life in the path of the resurrection of Jesus. (Apostolic Exhortation, On Christian Joy, Pope Paul VI, 1975)
We as Chrsitains should always be filled with joy, even in our sufferings, because of Christ. He is the source of our joy, the cause of our joy. St. Paul tells us in several places in his Epistles to rejoice in the Lord always, to pray without ceasing and to give thanks to God for everything, counting all to be pure joy.
The attainment of such an outlook is not just a matter of psychology. It is also a fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Apostolic Exhortation, On Christian Joy, Pope Paul VI, 1975)
The fruit of the Spirit is
love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, generosity, faithfulness,
gentleness, self-control. (Gal. 5:22)

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