Thursday, March 27, 2014

Suffering: A Call to Come Home

Last Saturday at daily Mass the Gospel was read of the prodigal son.  In listening to the story of the wayward son, we hear how he takes all his inheritance and squanders his property in loose living.  The parable goes on to say "And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you." (Luke 15:14-18)

There was a portion of the story that seemed to stand out in a way that had not occurred to me before.  The story mentions a famine that arose and created a want in the young son.  This suffering began a period of reflection that finally brought his heart home to his father.  It was not through words that the son left his ways but a period of struggle and suffering that served as the call home.  Such is the way Our Heavenly Father often calls us.  It is through our struggle and want that we initially find ourselves turning our heart to prayer.  Once we reconcile ourselves to Our Lord, we find that only Love is waiting.

As we contemplate the Passion during Lent there is a wonderful appreciation of the good that comes through suffering.  A purification and letting go of all the feelings of self dependence and an appreciation that we cannot do anything without God, not even to take a single step.

There are some beautiful quotes about suffering from the saints:

"Suffering is the greatest treasure on earth; it purifies the soul. In suffering, we learn who our true friend is" (Diary of St. Faustina 342).

"True love is measured by the thermometer of suffering"(Diary of St. Faustina 343)

Padre Pio led an intense spiritual life, full of both suffering and mysticism. From this he said,
"In order to attract us, the Lord grants us many graces that we believe can easily obtain Heaven for us. We do not know, however, that in order to grow, we need hard bread: the cross, humiliation, trials and denials."

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