Reflection March 21, 2015:
I have a friend that was treated unkindly at her parish because she and her husband have no children. This is not Christian love! This is not the choice of this couple not to have children…
How can we as a Catholic Community serve those who are a “Family of 2”, just as Sevant of God Elisabeth Leseur and Felix were in life? Marriage is the gift that makes a FAMILY, not everyone will be able to bring forth children and some will not have the ability to adopt. So, does this make them less than? Not at all.
This life is too short to behave this way, I pray that we will all learn to have open arms to those who are called to a different service within the Church. Those without children are a family and are still called to be HOLY, FAITHFUL SERVANTS of GOD.
Just my .02
Holy Servants Elisabeth and Felix Leseur, pray for us.
See note below from Joe MacNeil:
The contact information for the postulator’s office in Rome is no longer accurate. Brother Llewellyn Muscat, secretary to the Dominican Postulator, is now the primary contact person at the Vatican. For contact details, and an overview of the current status of the cause, I suggest the website ELcause.org. It is maintained by Elisabeth Leseur’s Circle of Friends, a new non-profit group based in the United States who are trying to energize work to advance her cause.
Watch “The Prophet Elijah Parts 1 – 5” on YouTube
Prayer to Saint Elijah- Leader and Father of Carmelites
“O glorious St. Elijah, ever a mirror of sanctity and justice, while living in this valley of tears, obtain for us of God the grace to be your followers on earth, that we may one day be partakers with you in the everlasting glory in heaven. O great Patriarch of the Order of Mount Carmel, teacher of God’s people and the defender of their Faith, disperse, we entreat you, the darkness of our intellect, obscured by our evil passions, and preserve in our hearts the Faith which is kept living by works of charity. O holy Patriarch of the Most high, taken into heaven in a chariot of fire, and who shall be the precursor of Christ, when He shall come in the splendor of his infinite majesty to judge the living and the dead, pray for us, that loving Him and sincerely serving Him on earth, we may have the great happiness of loving Him for all eternity in the blessed kingdom of heaven. Amen.”
I originally composed the following letter in response to an inquiry from an old friend regarding the deaths of two of our children. I share it now — despite much anxiety about such public vulnerability — in hope that these words may comfort other grieving parents.
Thank you for your message and prayers. The past two years have been very difficult, if I may understate a little. Burying Mary Bernadette was the most painful and sorrowful experience of my life. At 19 weeks in utero, just as we learned her gender, we learned she had a terminal genetic disorder called Trisomy 18. We prayed every day for healing and/or live birth, but God answered our petitions in the most mysterious of ways: He took her to Himself and healed her without granting us the opportunity to hear her cry. Mary Bernadette was born still at 33 weeks on July 26, 2009. It was especially heartbreaking to see our sole living child, Brighid, aware of everything, having to bury her sister while she herself was almost three years old.
Then nine months later, we experienced a miscarriage at around six weeks in utero. While a little less devastating — because we only knew of little Innocent for two weeks — it nonetheless reopened our deepest wounds. Again, Brighid has been fully engaged: just last week she told us Innocent was a boy. We still don’t know if she had a dream about him, or what, but she speaks as if she saw him.
Regarding being less certain of things than we once were: it is the hope and hubris of youth, to impose our wills upon the world, to assert our ideas as certainties and to promote our ideals as truths. I have Faith — “the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen” — that God is Love, that Love itself is a mystery, and therefore God is the unending font of the mystery of Love. I mean to say, albeit in a wordy way, that I believe a healthy sense of mystery is not only permissible, but usually required for a mature, honest relationship with God. I’m not without my doubts, but neither was Saint Thomas, and though Jesus mildly corrected him, He did not reject Thomas for his doubt. Likewise, God did not abandon Job, even when he doubted and cried out at the injustice of being deprived of an objective good (his children).
I’ve been meditating on Job’s story quite a bit. One mystery I keep coming back to: God withheld any response from Job until Job demanded an answer. Granted, God’s response was a bit frightening, and definitely humbling, but also consoling (paraphrased): “I am God, the Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth. You are not being punished. I have my reasons, and they are beyond you. Humble yourself and trust me. I will restore you.” A very patient fatherly correction. Contrast that with God’s response to Job’s friends: “I am angry with you. You have not spoken rightly concerning Me, as has my servant Job. Let my servant Job pray for you; for his prayer I will accept, not to punish you severely.” Not only does He call their “prosperity gospel” a lie, He calls Job His servant, and holds Job up as the standard by which his friends should measure themselves.
Suffering, like Love, is a mystery I don’t pretend to understand. But we have found it to produce much Redemptive fruit in our lives and among our friends. Perhaps Job’s suffering and restoration was meant as much for Job’s redemption as it was for Job’s friends’ redemption. And perhaps God is working something similar in our lives, among our friends and family. I’m not certain at all, but the thought does give me Hope.
Mary Bernadette Victoria and Tiny Innocent, pray for us.
P.S. If you or someone you know is suffering the death of a child and/or infertility, I cannot overstate the consolation brought to us by:
The Apostolate of Hannah’s Tears “offers prayer support and comfort to the brokenhearted who suffer the pains of infertility at any stage of life, difficult pregnancy, miscarriage, stillbirth, the loss of a child and the adoption process.”
The Shrine of The Holy Innocents: “Often children who have died before birth have no grave or headstone, and sometimes not even a name. At The Church of The Holy Innocents, we invite you to name your child(ren) and to have the opportunity to have your baby’s name inscribed in our ‘Book of Life.’ Here, a candle is always lit in their memory. All day long people stop to pray. On the first Monday of every month, Mass is celebrated in honor of these children and for the comfort of their families. We pray that you will find peace in knowing that your child(ren) will be remembered at the Shrine and honored by all who pray here.”
Something I ponder every day of my life as I struggle with suffering. I hope this prayer card below brings you peace as it has brought to me.
May I learn to offer up truly, to God the Father, all of my sufferings that some greater good may come. I pray that none of this suffering is waisted and that you might be blessed in some way. I must remember as I pray that you will also receive many blessings, as God brings a greater good to everything if we unite ourselves to HIM. God bless you!
A 3.25″ x 4.5″ folded brochure – 3¢ each
Available in English and Español
How to Make the Greatest Evil in
Our Lives Our Greatest Happiness
by Fr. Paul O’Sullivan, O.P.
Suffering is the great problem of human life. We all have to suffer. Sometimes small sorrows, sometimes greater ones fall to our share. We shall now tell our readers how to avoid much of this suffering, how to lessen all suffering and how to derive great benefits from every suffering we may have to bear.
The reason why suffering appears so hard is that, first of all, we are not taught what suffering is. Secondly, we are not taught how to bear it. Thirdly, we are not taught the priceless value of suffering.
This is due to the incomprehensible neglect on the part of our teachers.
It is surprising how easily some people bear great sufferings; whereas, others get excited even at the smallest trouble.
The simple reason is that some have been taught all about suffering; others have not.
SUFFERING IS NOT THE EVIL WE THINK IT IS
First of all, then, suffering is not simply an evil, for no one suffered more than the Son of God Himself, more than His Blessed Mother or more than the Saints. Every suffering comes from God. It may appear to come to us by chance or accident or from someone else, but in reality, every suffering comes to us from God. Nothing happens to us without His wish or permission. Not even a hair falls from our heads without His consent.
Why does God allow us to suffer? Simply because He is asking us to take a little share in His Passion. What appears to come by chance or from someone else always comes because God allows it.
Every act in Our Lord’s Life was a lesson for us. The greatest act in His life was His Passion. This, then, is the greatest lesson for us. It teaches us that we too must suffer.
God suffered all the dreadful pains of His Passion for each one of us. How can we refuse to suffer a little for love of Him?
SUFFERING IS THE GOLD IN OUR LIVES
Secondly, if we accept the suffering He sends us and offer them in union with His sufferings, we receive the greatest rewards. Five minutes’ suffering borne for love of Jesus is of greater value to us than years and years of pleasure and joy. The Saints tell us that if we patiently bear our sufferings, we merit the crown of martyrdom.
Moreover, suffering borne patiently brings out all that is good in us. Those who have suffered are usually the most charming people.
If we bear these facts clearly in mind, it certainly becomes much easier to suffer.
GOD ALWAYS GIVES STRENGTH TO BEAR OUR SUFFERINGS
Thirdly, when God gives us any suffering, He always gives us strength to bear it, if we only ask Him. Many, instead of asking for His help, get excited and revolt. It is this excitement and impatience that really make suffering hard to bear.
Consider that we are now speaking of all suffering, even the most trifling ones. All of us have little troubles, pains, disappointments, every day of our lives. All these, if borne for love of God, obtain for us, as we have said, the greatest rewards.
HOW TO BEAR SUFFERING
Even the greater sufferings that may fall to our share from time to time become easy to bear if we accept them with serenity and patience. What really makes suffering difficult to bear is our own impatience, our revolt, our refusal to accept it. This irritation increases our sufferings a hundred fold and, besides, robs us of all the merit we could have gained thereby.
We see some people pass through a tempest of suffering with the greatest calm and serenity; whereas, others get irritated at the slightest annoyance or disappointment. We can all learn this calm and patience. It is the secret of happiness.
An eminent physician, in a conference which he gave to distinguished scientists and fellow doctors, told them that he owed all his great success in life to the simple fact that he had corrected his habit of impatience and annoyance, which had been destroying all his energy and activity.
Everyone, we repeat, without exception, can learn this calm and serenity.
We must all do penance for our sins. If we do not, we shall have long years of suffering in the awful fires of Purgatory. This fire is just the same as the fire of Hell.
Now, if we offer our sufferings the very little ones as well as the greater ones-in union with the sufferings of Jesus Christ, we are doing the easiest and best penance we can perform. We may thus deliver ourselves entirely from Purgatory, While at the same time gaining the greatest graces and blessings.
Let us remember clearly that:
1) Sufferings come from God for our benefit.
2) When we are in the state of grace, we derive immense merit from every suffering borne patiently, even the little sufferings of our daily lives.
3) God will give us abundant strength to bear our sufferings if we only ask Him.
4) If we bear our sufferings patiently, they lose their sting and bitterness.
5) Above all, every suffering is a share in the Passion of Our Lord.
6) By our sufferings, we can free ourselves in great part, or entirely, from the pains of Purgatory.
7) By bearing our sufferings patiently, we win the glorious crown of martyrdom.
Of course, we may do all in our power to avoid or lessen our sufferings, but we cannot avoid all suffering. Therefore, it is clearly necessary for us to learn how to bear them.
In a word, we must understand clearly that if we remain calm, serene and patient, suffering loses all its sting, but the moment we get excited, the smallest suffering increases a hundred fold.
It is just as if we had a sore arm or leg and rubbed it violently; it would become irritated and painful; whereas, if we touch it gently, we soothe the irritation.
We suffer from ill-health, from pains, headaches, rheumatism, arthritis, from accidents, from enemies. We may have financial difficulties. Some suffer for weeks in their homes, some in hospitals or nursing homes. In a word, we are in a vale of tears. Almighty God could have saved us from all suffering, but He did not do so because He knows in His infinite goodness that suffering is good for us.
We have a great, great remedy in our hands, that is, prayer. We should pray earnestly and constantly asking God to help us to suffer, to console us. or if it pleases Him. to deliver us from suffering. This is all, all important.
A very eminent doctor, in an able article he recently published in the secular press, says that “Prayer is the greatest power in the world.”
He says, “I and my colleagues frequently see that many of our patients, whom we have failed to cure or whose pains we have failed to alleviate, have cured themselves by prayer. I speak now not of the prayers of holy people, but the prayers of ordinary Christians.”
We should above all pray to Our Lady of Sorrows in all our troubles. We should ask her, by the oceans of sorrow she felt during the Passion of Our Lord, to help us.
God gave her all the immense graces necessary to make her the perfect Mother of God, but He also gave her all the graces, the tenderness, the love necessary to be our most perfect and loving Mother. No mother on earth ever loved a child as Our Blessed Lady loves us. Therefore, in all our troubles and sorrows, let us go to Our Blessed Lady with unbounded confidence.
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother. To thee do I come, before thee I kneel, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer them. Amen.