Wisdom of the Saints…about suffering (part 5)

By Sarah Bedia

“If you were the handsomest and the richest man in the world, and could work wonders and drive out devils, all that would be  something extrinsic to you; it would not belong to you and you could not boast of it.  But there is one thing of which we can boast; we can boast of our humiliations and in taking up daily the holy cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” St. Francis of Assisi (12th-13th centuries)

“Which of the saints had the sweetness of the Spirit without experiencing bitterness?  Therefore, one who craves sweetness must not flee from things that are bitter.” St. Bridget of Sweden (14th century)

“O you souls who wish to go on with so much safety and consolation, if you knew how pleasing to God is suffering, and how much it helps in acquiring other good things, you would never seek consolation in anything but you would rather look upon it as a great happiness to bear the Cross of the Lord.” St. John of the Cross (16th century, Doctor of the Church)

“Suffering out of love for God is better than working miracles.” St. John of the Cross

“No badge of royalty we seek but the thorns which crown the Crucified, the reed that was His scepter, the cloak of mockery in which He was arrayed, and the cross that was His throne.  Never did Solomon, on his throne of ivory, know such satisfaction, joy, glory and bliss as God’s lovers on the throne of Calvary.” St. Francis de Sales (16th-17th centuries, Doctor of the Church)

“The prayer of the sick person is his patience and his acceptance of his sickness for the love of Jesus Christ.” St. Charles of Sezze (17th century)

“Truly sickness is a great God-given grace.  It makes us discover who we are.” St. Paul of the Cross (18th century)

“Many of us are inclined to think of all the physical sufferings of this world as evils, absolute evils.  We have forgotten that pain is the legacy we have inherited from Adam; we have forgotten that the only real evil is sin, which offends the Lord, and that we must look to the Cross of Jesus as the apostles, martyrs, saints, teachers, and witnesses looked to it.  For in the Cross we find strength and salvation, and in the love of Christ there is no life without suffering.  Thanks be to God, not all souls turn rebellious under the burden of pain.  There are some infirm people who understand the meaning of suffering and are aware of the opportunities they have been given to contribute to the salvation of the world – and so they accept their life of pain as Jesus Christ accepted His, as most holy Mary accepted hers on the feast of her Purification, and as her chaste and faithful husband Saint Joseph accepted his…Look at this Cross, my beloved children, when you have to suffer.  If those who are in pain make this their rule of life they will never feel alone; in paradise they will see the rich fruits of their spiritual efforts, in paradise where there are no more tears, or pain or separations, and no more possibility of offending God.” Pope St. John XXIII (19th-20th centuries)

“…we must follow our divine Leader, Who usually leads chosen souls by the path He Himself has trodden and by no other; by the path, I tell you, of self-denial and suffering…Foolish are those who fail to fathom the secret of the cross.” St. Pio of Pietrelcina (19th-20th centuries)

“St. Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, a letter which he wrote from prison, said: ‘It is now my happiness to suffer for you.  This is my way of helping to complete in my poor human nature the full tale of Christ’s affliction still to be endured for the sake of His body, which is the church.’ Our Lord says, ‘It is finished.’  Paul says, ‘It is not finished.’  Certainly the sufferings of our Blessed Lord were finished in Him as the head of the Church, but they are not finished in His body.  The quota of the physical Christ is finished.  The quota of the mystical Christ is not.  So St. Paul says:  I am helping to fill up that quota.  And so Christ’s wounds are eternally fresh.  They’re all over the world.  They’re in those who have the faith, and they’re in those who do not have the faith.  This vision will come to us as we live close to the cross and meditate on the Passion of our Lord.  Nothing gives us so much understanding of the love of God, the sacrificial love, as God coming down to this world from heavenly headquarters and saying, I will take the pain as My own.  This vicarious love is the agape love of Christianity.  No wonder, then, St. John tells us about the Lamb, the Lamb with the marks of slaughter upon Him.  If Christ is in agony until the end of the world, and He is, then our vision changes.  The Passion is not a past history like the Battle of Waterloo.  So maybe we had better change our lives to be more closely linked with the Lamb Who has the marks of slaughter upon Him.” Ven. Fulton Sheen (20th century)

“The sickness of a family member, friend, or neighbor is a call to Christians to demonstrate true compassion, that gentle and persevering sharing in another’s pain.  Likewise, the handicapped and those who are ill must never feel that they are a burden; they are persons being visited by the Lord.” Pope St. John Paul II (20th-21st centuries)