Wisdom of the Saints about suffering (part 6)

“Sometimes we ask ourselves why the Lord makes us wait so long for an answer to our prayers. If His love for us is so great, how is it that He does not heal us straightaway when we turn to Him for help? This question has been asked in every generation. It is the universal cry of the human heart, voiced by the psalmist when he complained, ‘How long, O Lord, will you forget me?’, and by the martyrs in the Book of Revelation lying slain beneath the altar. But just as Job had to learn how limited was his knowledge of the mind of God, so we too must realize that as high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are the Lord’s ways above our ways and the Lord’s thoughts above our thoughts. His vision of our situation includes factors that are hidden from us. We see only the present need, but His eyes range ahead over the whole of our lives, and not of ours only, but of all those other lives which are affected by ours. He sees the deep needs of each one of us and of the whole of mankind…God’s timing is always perfect.” Pope St. Leo the Great (4th-5th century, Doctor of the Church)

“Christ is now exalted above the heavens, but He still suffers on earth all the pain that we, the members of His body, have to bear. He showed this when He cried out from above: Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me? and when He said: I was hungry and you gave Me food.” St. Augustine of Hippo (4th-5th centuries, Doctor of the Church)

“Make sickness itself a prayer.” St. Francis de Sales (16th-17th centuries, Doctor of the Church)

“So what are we worried about? God is looking after us and yet we are full of anxiety! We trust ourselves to a doctor because we suppose he knows his business. He orders an operation which involves cutting away part of our body and we accept it. We are grateful to him and pay him a large fee because we judge he would not act as he does unless the remedy were necessary, and we rely on his skill. Yet we are unwilling to treat God in the same way! It looks as if we do not trust His wisdom and are afraid He cannot do His job properly. We allow ourselves to be operated on by a man who may easily make a mistake – a mistake which may cost us our life – and protest when God sets to work on us. If we could see all He sees we would unhesitatingly wish all He wishes. We would beg Him on bended knees for those afflictions we now ask Him to spare us.” St. Claude de la Colombiere (17th century)

“I would like to make everyone understand the great grace that God, in His mercy, bestows when He sends suffering, especially suffering devoid of consolation. Then indeed the soul is purified like gold in the furnace; without knowing it, it becomes radiant and is set free to take flight to God.” St. Paul of the Cross (17th-18th centuries)

“Our suffering works mysteriously, first in ourselves by a kind of renewal, and also in others, perhaps far away, without our ever knowing what we are accomplishing.” Servant of God Elisabeth Leseur (19th-20th centuries)

“Jesus, Who goes out to meet those who are going to arrest Him, comes to the coward who always runs away from suffering and any cross to teach him the strength of virtue and the love that fears nothing.” Ven. Concepcion Cabrera de Armida (19th-20th centuries)

“Suffering is universal; and suffering is never far from sacrifice. A toothache in a saint is no different from a toothache in an evil man-what makes the difference between suffering and sacrifice is the love of God. Sacrifice without the love of God is only suffering; suffering with the love of God becomes sacrifice. The Trappist monk who gets out of bed at two o’clock in the morning to pray for the sins of the world is undergoing the same discomfort as the victim of insomnia who gets up to take a stiff drink; but what a difference in the attitude of the soul!” Ven. Fulton Sheen (19th-20th centuries)

“In weakness He manifested His power, and in humiliation He manifested all His messianic greatness. Are not all the words He uttered during His agony on Golgotha a proof of this greatness, and especially His words concerning the perpetrators of His crucifixion: ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do’? To those who share in Christ’s sufferings these words present themselves with the power of a supreme example. Suffering is also an invitation to manifest the moral greatness of man, his spiritual maturity. Proof of this has been given, down through the generations, by the martyrs and confessors of Christ, faithful to the words: ‘And do not fear those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul’.” Pope St. John Paul II (20th-21st centuries)

“In the light of Christ’s death and resurrection, illness no longer appears an exclusively negative event; rather, it is seen as a ‘visit by God,’ an opportunity ‘to release love, in order to give birth to works of love toward our neighbor, in order to transform the whole of human civilization into a civilization of love’.” Pope St. John Paul II