Sacrifice, Suffering...and Salvation
Today, I received an email from one of our spiritual support: the The Discalced Hermits of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Fairfield, Pennslvania. It is a reflection on redemptive suffering and death. I was really moved by the Hermit's reflections. Send me any comments about it to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to hear from you.
Timothy Duff, Co-Founder and Guardian
THE DISCALCED HERMITS OF
OUR LADY OF MOUNT CARMEL
Read on for a short reflection on the cause (and the solution!) of all suffering:
The Wounds of Sin
If we preserve ourselves from being too distracted by the passing things of this world, then the season of fall can remind us of our own mortality…and our eventual death.
Today's culture has forgotten—or, perhaps, it chooses to ignore—that the mortality and the suffering of man are not haphazard or by chance, but rather the result of sin. Long ago departing from God, Who is Life, man has brought himself suffering and death…of the soul and of the body. God had warned our ancient parents about this twofold death of soul and body that results from sin: “Thou shalt die the death” (Gen. 2:17). What was once a rightly-ordered creation is now very deeply wounded by the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve, and by the scars of countless sins throughout the ages.
No Cause for Despair
Suffering is inescapable in our mortal life, but it is no cause for despair. Our trials and sufferings, our pains and sorrows, our wounds and even our mortality are not foreign to the all-good and ever-living God.
Indeed, God the Word, Who created everything in the beginning, has assumed our mortal human nature; "the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us..." By His suffering and death, His Sacrifice of the Cross, He has not only borne our infirmities and mortality, but also radically overcome them and transformed them. In the Cross of Jesus Christ, we find the ultimate remedy and the instrument for authentic healing of each individual and of the whole human race. In the Cross, we discover the divine love and power that quietly works for the salvation and final transformation of a fallen and wounded world.
There is Joy in the Cross
United to the Sacrifice of our divine Redeemer through Holy Mass, our humble prayers, sacrifices, and personal sufferings can partake in the value, merit, and efficacy of Christ’s saving mediation and so be presented to Heaven with the divine Love of His Sacred Heart that is infinitely meritorious for souls and so pleasing to God. Thus, united to Christ, our sufferings can have incalculable value for our own conversion and spiritual healing, as well as the conversion and salvation of many other persons. Those who relinquish sin and turn back to God overcome the very source and root of suffering and death.
In the face of this reality, we can learn to persevere through our sufferings with a certain divine joy, for every moment of suffering can be an occasion to grow closer to our crucified and glorified Redeemer…and closer to the fullness of life and happiness in union with the eternal, ever-living God.
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross teaches us that "...the love of the cross in no way contradicts being a joyful child of God. Helping Christ carry His cross fills one with a strong and pure joy, and those who may and can do so, the builders of God’s kingdom, are the most authentic children of God...Only in union with the divine Head does human suffering take on expiatory power. To suffer and to be happy although suffering, to have one’s feet on the earth, to walk on the dirty and rough paths of this earth and yet to be enthroned with Christ at the Father’s right hand, to laugh and cry with the children of this world and ceaselessly to sing the praises of God with the choirs of angels: this is the life of the Christian until the morning of eternity breaks forth."
Saving and Sanctifying Designs
Sustained by this holy joy, the daily sacrifices and voluntary sufferings of the young men of our community are fueled by the desire to fight against the destructive tyranny of sin and to cooperate with Christ in building the Kingdom of God, which is "a Kingdom of truth and of life, a Kingdom of sanctity and of grace, a Kingdom of justice, of love, and of peace," (Preface for the Feast of Christ the King).
Therefore, as we confront much evil, error, chaos, and death in the world around us, together we can look joyfully to their ultimate solution in the Cross...and toward every opportunity we have to unite ourselves to Christ on it. Such is the joy of the devout child of God cooperating with Him in His saving and sanctifying designs for suffering and mortal men.
Your devoted servant in Christ and Mary,
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Fairfield, PA 17320
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