Editor’s NoteSo many times I have listened to the testimonies of non-Catholics, baffled by the sufferings in their lives. I recall a certain lady tearfully speaking to me of her son’s suffering with an unrelenting illness as “persecution from the Evil One.” My response to the suffering mother was: “M’am, in our Catholic Faith, we look at suffering as a purification, a means to atone, a powerful prayer. We unite our suffering to the redemptive suffering of Our Lord Jesus; we look at suffering even at times as a gift from the Father since only suffering has the power to turn people from perdition to salvation.” The lady in question, looking at me as if having heard a revelation, said: “That makes a lot of sense; thank you so much!”
The following Lenten reflections deal with suffering, in the Catholic sense mentioned above. It was by the Cross that our good Lord opened the gates of Heaven for us and it will be through the victory over suffering, in other words, through suffering well accepted, that we will some day be able to enter those Heavenly gates.
Though true piety can produce and stimulate emotion, piety is not, principally, emotion. Piety begins in a well-formed intelligence, that is, an intelligence schooled in catechetical study and an exact knowledge of our Faith. These truths should govern our interior life. Piety resides in the will. We should seriously desire what we know well. It is not enough, for example, to know that God is perfect. We need to love the perfection of God and, consequently, we should desire some of this perfection for ourselves. This is what it means to desire sanctity.
“To desire” does not mean to feel vague and sterile whims. We only seriously desire something when we are prepared to make every sacrifice to obtain what we desire. Thus, we only seriously desire our sanctification and to grow in love of God when we are ready to make every sacrifice to obtain this supreme goal. Without this willingness, any “desire” is but an illusion and a lie. We may feel greatly moved when we contemplate the truths and mysteries of Religion, but, if we do not derive serious and effective resolutions from them, these mysteries will be of no help to our piety.
This is especially the case during the days of the Passion of Our Lord. It is not enough to follow the various episodes of the Passion with a feeling of compunction, which feeling, though excellent, is not enough. During these days, we should give Our Lord sincere proofs of our devotion and love. These proofs can be given by firmly resolving to change our lives and to fight for the Church.
The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ. When Our Lord asked Saint Paul on the way to Damascus, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” Our Lord was telling him that by persecuting the infant Church, Saul was persecuting Him, Christ.
To persecute the Church is to persecute Jesus Christ, and if the Church is persecuted today, it is Christ that is persecuted. In a certain sense the Passion of Christ is being repeated in our days.
Go to: Part I