Fr. Dale Matson
“[We are] Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.” (2 Corinthians 4:10-11)
I have spoken a couple of times in the last two years about physical afflictions which appear unexpectedly. Some have become chronic; some vanish as quickly as they first appeared.
I am currently using a daily devotional, a gift from my late mentor in 1995. It sat on the self all this time. It is a collection of the sayings of St. Padre Pio. He and St. Therese the Little Flower are examples of what are termed “victim souls”. These individuals accepted the invitation from Christ to suffer more than others. Mother Teresa also drank from the cup of suffering to the last drop. Christ has not offered nor have I sought these afflictions. Some of it I am sure is due to aging and some are self-induced via lifestyle. Some are for the sake of the Gospel. In a post on Soundings 2010, I stated “There is definitely an element of spiritual warfare but the physical suffering is something that I have not come to a full understanding about.”
And what has God been saying to me about this lately? “Take this suffering but do not withdraw. Take this suffering and turn it into compassion for the suffering of others.” It reminds me of St. Paul’s comment in 2 Corinthians 1:4. “Who comforted us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”
There is an additional factor however. At ordination, priests prostrate themselves in submission to God to demonstrate with their bodies, that they have turned their wills over to God. Thy will be done. There are obvious things we do to gradually and incrementally make exceptions to this “all in” devotion and dedication. I think for me it has been an unwillingness to suffer. At least, it is an unwillingness to suffer without an explanation or a purpose. Just tell me why I have to suffer Lord. I think it is the willingness to suffer as an act of unquestioning obedience toward which God is moving me. I have had some blessed consolations.
‘“…after all, His Majesty will give you help proportionate to your trials, and so as you are suffering great trails, you will enjoy great favors, too!” St. Theresa of Avila
A Prayer For Those Who Suffer
Dear Lord I ask that You keep my heart from becoming discouraged or depressed. Don’t let me withdraw and be absorbed by self-pity. Guard the measure of faith You have bestowed upon me and help my spirit grow as my body no longer is capable of repairing itself. Dull my suffering and pain when medicines fail. Let me thank You for the moments where pain is not evident. Help me to focus on the needs of others, especially those less fortunate. Help me to offer a message of encouragement, a word of affirmation or simply a smile. Let others put their hands in my wounds to see I am human. Let me take note of the pleasant spring morning following a necessary rain. Let me listen more carefully to those around me. Thank You for those You provide to offer care and support. Let me contribute till I am poured out. Don’t let me become bitter about those who fail to acknowledge me or disregard me. Lord, let my decisions be based on faith not fear. As I become less, may You become more. Let Your joy, hope, love and peace attract others to You in me. Amen