Keep Trusting

When I found out that our unborn baby was unlikely to live after birth, I truly believed God could heal him. I knew He had the power to fix Thomas’ diaphragmatic hernia and save me from so much suffering. But would He?

I pleaded with God. I prayed and prayed and prayed. I threw myself down before Him and asked Him to have pity on me. “I am not strong enough for this, Lord. I am so weak. I will never survive.”

But although I had full confidence in God’s power to perform miracles, I had to face the fact He might not grant one to me. I might have to give birth to my child, hold him as he died, bury him, and then grieve. In some ways, this seemed the most likely thing to happen.

And that’s what did happen. God chose not to heal my baby, Thomas. He chose not to spare me the deep pain of bereavement. He chose to let me, in all my weakness, suffer.

I look back over the years to Thomas’ death. I remember the crushing weight of grief, the black sunless world I lived in for a long time, the near-despair that threatened to consume me. I think about the pain that still lives hidden deep within me. And I look at God and I say, “Thank you.”

Thank you for not granting me a miracle and letting me suffer.

I could never have willingly asked for suffering. God knew this but He sent it anyway. And through that suffering He has drawn me closer to Him; suffering has changed who I am; suffering has made me so aware of God’s love for me… I could write so much about how the pain of losing a child has affected my life.

I imagine going back in time, and God saying, “ I could grant you a miracle or … if you are willing to trust Me, I would like to take you on a journey, filled admittedly with deep pain, but also overflowing with grace and love. Don’t worry about being weak as I will be there to give you My strength. What will it be?”

And I hope I could say, “Give me Your strength, Lord. I am willing to go where You lead.”

I wish I could have said that years ago. But I couldn’t. I was far too afraid.

Telling the end of a story is not always helpful to those in the middle of the journey. “That’s all right for you, Sue. You’re no longer bowed down by the great heavy weight of grief. You no longer wonder if you’ll get through each day. You know you survived. But me?”

I reply, “Keep trusting.”

The words “Jesus, I trust in You” were constantly on my lips while I was grieving. Trust God who loves you so very much. Everything that He allows is in His plan for you. Accept, trust and you will survive. Will it be easy? No. But then nothing of value ever is. And God is the greatest Gift of all.

By receiving suffering, I lost Thomas. Or did I? No, I still have my child. Of course, Thomas is not here with me but he is waiting.

And one day I will be with Thomas. I will be with God. I will have everything.

Please share more of my grief stories on my blog Sue Elvis Writes

Sin and Suffering and Finding Peace

I can remember looking at my newborn son in the NICU, his little body pierced by tubes and needles, connected to his life support system, and thinking, “Thomas, you are suffering because of sin.” A day later, I knew sin had caused his death.

My baby didn’t die as a result of a sinful act. He wasn’t the victim of violence or evil. He died a natural death caused by a health problem: Thomas was born with lungs too small for independent breathing and so he could never have lived. So why did I think my son died because of sin?

As I watched Thomas’ chest inflating and deflating, a machine taking the place of his inadequate lungs, I thought about what should have been, what would have been… if sin had not entered the world and upset the balance of nature. There would have been no disease, no pain, no newborn babies fighting for their lives, no mothers sorrowing, no tears, no death.

But there is sin and Thomas did die and I suffered.

I have always been a reader and I searched for books to help me cope with my sorrow. But in those early weeks of grief, I found it difficult to concentrate. Every time I opened a book and started to read, my mind almost instantly drifted away. The words were just a blur on the page. And then one day I picked up a book called Looking for Peace? Try Confession by Mary Ann Budnik. From the very first page, the words grabbed my attention.

A book on confession? I would never have imagined such a book could have helped me, a bereaved parent. But it did.

It’s been 12 years since I read that book and so the details have faded. But I do remember how engaging and easy the book was to read, and how it re-ignited that dying spark: my interest in life. Perhaps the book made me realise that the problem of evil in the world can only be put right by each and every one of us taking responsibility for our own sin.

I thought about Thomas dying in a world upset by sin and Jesus dying on the cross because of sin… and I didn’t want to sin. I also didn’t want to suffer but I realised that I was able to offer my sufferings to God, and this gave them value and helped me bear them. I knew I could unite my sufferings with those of Jesus to atone for sin.

Looking for Peace? Yes, I wanted to find peace.

I still struggle with sin. I know it will be a lifetime battle. But I did find peace. I found it in an unexpected place. I found peace in the confessional, in the sacrament of reconciliation.

Please visit my blog Sue Elvis Writes to share more of my grief posts

Finding Meaning in a Baby’s Death

When I was a newly bereaved parent I went along to a grief support group. Every month a few mothers would gather and we’d share our stories and our pain. Every month we talked about the same things. We went round and round in circles, going over the same ground and we never seemed to progress a step towards healing.

And although I appreciated the time the volunteers gave to the group to help mothers like me, eventually I had enough. I didn’t want to sit still any longer, wallowing in my misery.  I wanted to move forward. I wanted once again to know joy and to smile.  To do this, I had to find some meaning in my son’s death.  I pondered: Did he live and die for nothing? And so was my pain worthless? Or could I make some sense of the whole situation?

In my search for an answer I found myself thinking about God’s plan for my life, acceptance and trust, the cross and the value of suffering. My baby died and I was suffering. Was this suffering of value? Could I accept it? Could I trust God was looking after me? And would God eventually lead me to healing?

Does anyone else feel the need to move forward towards healing? Are you pondering such questions as mine?

Please feel welcome to share your thoughts and my post, Finding Meaning in a Baby’s Death on my blog Sue Elvis Writes, where they are many other grief stories.

Blessed Alexandrina Maria da Costa

Video

“Lay woman from the diocese of Braga. At age 14 Alexandrina jumped from a window to escape a rapist; she was injured in the fall, paralyzed, and was bed-ridden for the rest of her life. Member of the Salesian Cooperators. Mystic and visionary. The last 13 years of her life she had the gift of inedia, living solely off daily Communion. http://saints.sqpn.com
[Alexandrina Maria da Costa]
Feast Day:  October 13
4th Seer of Fatima
Uniting our sufferings to Christ Jesus on the Cross is so important in our lives today, don’t forget that this is a prayer that will do much more then you know.  Pray the Chaplet of Hannah’s Tears uniting your sufferings to Jesus Christ Crucified.  All at the foot of the altar where graces flow.

Prayer:

Blessed Alexandrina da Costa
        My Protectress
By Alexandrina Society Founder – Francis Reynolds
Alexandrina, as an unworthy sinner I ask you
To place me on a path of salvation,
To save my soul and help with your mission
Of saving other souls for God.
I implore you to plead for me
As I beg the grace to be holy,
To be pure, to be kind and to do
Only what is pleasing to God.
Then God will dwell in me and His blood
Will flow in my veins with my blood
And His Flesh will be with my flesh
And I will be with Jesus forever.
Oh, sweet and gentle Alexandrina, God gave
You power equal to that of the all-powerful and
Appointed you protectress of mankind. I ask you
To intercede for me in my time of need and protect
Me spiritually, physically and mentally through this
day/night through Jesus Christ Our Lord.  Amen

Read more: 
Blessed Alexandrina                           official site


Purchase:  Booklet

The Cross the Unique Sacrifice

Our participation in Christ’s sacrifice

618 The cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, the “one mediator between God and men”.452 But because in his incarnate divine person he has in some way united himself to every man, “the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery” is offered to all men.453 He calls his disciples to “take up [their] cross and follow [him]“,454 for “Christ also suffered for [us], leaving [us] an example so that [we] should follow in his steps.”455 In fact Jesus desires to associate with his redeeming sacrifice those who were to be its first beneficiaries.456 This is achieved supremely in the case of his mother, who was associated more intimately than any other person in the mystery of his redemptive suffering.457

Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.458
IN BRIEF

619 “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures” (I Cor 15:3).

620 Our salvation flows from God’s initiative of love for us, because “he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins” (I Jn 4:10). “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself” (2 Cor 5:19).

621 Jesus freely offered himself for our salvation. Beforehand, during the Last Supper, he both symbolized this offering and made it really present: “This is my body which is given for you” (Lk 22:19).

622 The redemption won by Christ consists in this, that he came “to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt 20:28), that is, heloved [his own] to the end” (Jn 13:1), so that they might be “ransomed from the futile ways inherited from [their] fathers” (I Pt 1:18).

623 By his loving obedience to the Father, “unto death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8), Jesus fulfills the atoning mission (cf. Is 53:10) of the suffering Servant, who will “make many righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities” (Is 53:11; cf. Rom 5:19).


More:

  1. The Redemptive Value of Christ’s Sacrifice

    Oct 26, 1988 – This truth of our faith does not exclude but demands the participationof each and every human being in Christ’s sacrifice in collaboration with 

  2. Catechism of the Catholic Church – PART 2 SECTION 2 CHAPTER 1 

    The Holy Sacrifice, because it makes present the one sacrifice of Christ the …..participation in our Redeemer’s sacrifice which we celebrate in the Eucharist: 

  3. Eucharist as Sacrifice – Sacrament: Mass and Liturgy

    By our participation in the Holy Eucharist, we unite ourselves to Christ in HisSacrifice, pouring out our lives, with Him, in love of God and our neighbor. 


    Catechism – Catholic Culture

    Our participation in Christ’s sacrifice. 618 The cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, the “one mediator between God and men”. 452 But because in his incarnate 

The Power of the Cross

Sharing this from an email I received, blessings to you today!                                                                       Hannah’s Tears Ministry


PERHAPS the reason many of us are not growing in holiness is because we misunderstand how the power of God is applied in our lives. Mark explains in this episode how the transforming power of God works in a Christian’s life, and how it’s not too late for anyone to become a saint… To watch The Power of the Cross, go to www.embracinghope.tv

All Mark’s webcasts can be found at:  Embracing Hope TV

All Mark’s writings can be found at:
  Spiritual Food For Thought

Listen to Mark’s music on his official website:  www.markmallett.com


— 

Hannah’s Tears
www.hannahstears.org

Archbishop Fulton Sheen – The Woman I Love Part 4 http://youtu.be/4lyId61fHIQ



We offer prayer support and comfort to the brokenhearted who suffer the pains of  infertility at any stage of life, difficult pregnancy, miscarriage, stillbirth, or the early death of a child.  This ministry intercedes for Catholic/Christian doctors, nurses, and their supportive personnel. We also serve as a vehicle of education in the proper channels of Catholic fertility practices as well as offering information resources to those seeking fertility care and/or adoption.

Sacraments: Suffering can lead to salvation :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

By Brian Pizzalato

St. Paul’s understanding of suffering as a participation in salvation is especially evident when he speaks of how his suffering affects others.
In 2 Timothy Paul says, “Take your share of suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2:3). Following this Paul speaks of his imprisonment for the preaching of the Gospel, “the gospel for which I am suffering and wearing fetters like a criminal” (v. 9).         continue

Sacraments: St. Paul explains the meaning of suffering :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)


Below is an article I found for our continued meditation and study on the value of suffering. 

Sacraments: St. Paul explains the meaning of suffering :: Catholic News Agency (CNA) 

By Brian Pizzalato

There is one person who stands out above all to give an answer to these deepest of questions, namely St. Paul. In St. Paul’s writings we find a greatly developed meaning of suffering. Pope John Paul II explains why St. Paul writes so much on suffering: “The Apostle shares his own discovery and rejoices in it because of all those whom it can help – just as it helped him – to understand the salvific meaning of suffering” (Salvifici Doloris, 1).

Two questions have plagued the minds of Christians and non-Christians alike: why is there suffering? Why does God allow suffering?  continue here

Infertility, Suffering & Anointing

Some of us have been called to the cross of “infertility or sub-fertility” sufferings.  Have you ever considered what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about anointing of the sick?  Don’t you consider that your situation is a problem of health?  Just as Hannah found herself at the Altar of the Lord (where the sacrificial offering took place in the temple)  and Fr. Eli confirmed that her prayer was heard, isn’t this something we should also consider as we seek to build our family?  Anointing and prayer from our holy priesthood?  If Jesus is seen as the Divine Healer and the priest is considered standing in the place of Christ, maybe we should consider seeking him for this prayer.  Just something to be considered as we are all seeking God’s will and healing hand upon our daily lives.  As we seek healing in the physical realm from our medical doctors so should we seek healing and help from our good holy priests within the Catholic Church.

God Bless!

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church


I. ITS FOUNDATIONS IN THE ECONOMY OF SALVATION
Illness in human life

1500 Illness and suffering have always been among the gravest problems confronted in human life. In illness, man experiences his powerlessness, his limitations, and his finitude. Every illness can make us glimpse death.

1501 Illness can lead to anguish, self-absorption, sometimes even despair and revolt against God. It can also make a person more mature, helping him discern in his life what is not essential so that he can turn toward that which is. Very often illness provokes a search for God and a return to him.




Suffering for What?

Here goes nothing…well, I was going to pour out my soul but obviously I wasn’t meant to as my computer froze and I lost my posting.  So, I will say that through these last 3 1/2 years I have never actually shared who I am because this Ministry is more about the one seeking comfort not about who I am and what I have suffered.  I will tell you that we all have our fair share of suffering and the only way to survive is through the gift of HOLY ACCEPTANCE.  I do believe that the chaplet of Hannah’s Tears is a great prayer to work towards this gift of acceptance as well as adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and just the quiet reflection you get when taking care of your Domestic Church (your home).
 
Show me oh Lord  how to accept!  Below is a teaching about redemptive suffering I found from www.thedefender.org, hope it will be a blessing to you.  

 

Redemptive Suffering

A Summary:Redemptive suffering is the belief that human suffering, when accepted and offered up in union with the Passion of Jesus, can remit the just punishment for one’s sins or for the sins of another. Like an indulgence, redemptive suffering does not gain the individual forgiveness for their sin; forgiveness results from God’s grace, freely given through Christ, which cannot be earned. After one’s sins are forgiven, the individual’s suffering can reduce the penalty due for sin. 

 

 

We believe God loves mankind so much that He made Himself human in Jesus in order to redeem mankind. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (Jn 3:16) 

 

We believe our suffering can be united to that of Christ and so in union with His Passion. “As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon; this man they pressed into service to carry his cross.” (Matthew 27:32) 

 

Why Suffering: (1) Everyone asks the question (in some form or another), Why suffering? Each religion has a different answer. In Hinduism, suffering is seen as the result of karmic debt owed from a prior incarnation. Buddhists believe they suffer in life because of their desires that can be relieved by good meditation and prayers. In Judaism, suffering is seen as everything from senseless to positively willed by God as a result of Jewish disobedience. In Islam, suffering is seen as the result of Allah’s positive will. For some brands of Protestantism, suffering is always the result of personal sin. 

 

Every human being undergoes pain, and we all want it to have meaning (and so not despair). Amidst this, always remember: there are two kinds of suffering-redemptive suffering and wasted suffering…Which one will you choose? 

 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church encourages and reminds us of our vocation: “By His passion and death on the Cross Christ has given a new meaning to suffering: it can henceforth configure us to Him and unite us with His redemptive passion” (#1505). 

 

The Value and Meaning of Redemptive Suffering: (1)Redemptive suffering is any trial or tribulation (physical or mental) we offer up and UNITE to Jesus- as a “gift” to Him to express our love thru a costly way, in exchange for some other good. Notice the key elements: we consciously choose embrace suffering; it is precious (a “gift”) because it is painful (not fun or “easy”); it brings us closer to Jesus in an intimate and intense way; and the suffering may “spiritually repair” my own soul or others-and thereby help in the work of redemption (Christ’s allowing me to help Him save souls). 

 

Other names/descriptions of this phenomenon include: vicarious atonement (Jesus, Who alone can atone the sins of the world, chooses others to “vicariously assist Him” and thereby weave more people into the plan of salvation; victim souls (a person whose primary call as a disciple in life is to especially suffer for the saving of other souls); and co-redemption. 

 

Ask yourself these questions: How can I intensely merge my sufferings with Christ (i.e., more deeply)? How can I more readily blend my trials with Him (i.e. not hesitating in offering suffering to Him)? How can I consistently entwine my difficulties with Him (less sporadically)? 

 

The Bible and Suffering:There are many versus in the Bible referring to redemptive suffering. The following verses are a few of those most quoted: “Whoever follows me must take up his cross…” (Mt 10: 38). 

 

“So they departed from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been counted worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus.” (Acts 5:41) ” 

 

“Therefore we are not discouraged, rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. (II Cor 4: 16). ” 

 

“With Christ I am nailed to the cross. It is now no longer I that live but Christ Who lives in me” (Gal 2:19-20). 

 

“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, for I fill up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ.” (Col:24). 

 

“This indeed is a grace, if for consciousness of God anyone endures sorrows, suffering. unjustly.” (I Pt 2: 19). 

 

“For the Spirit Himself gives testimony to our spirit that we are the sons of God. And if sons, heirs also; heirs indeed of God and joint heirs with Christ: yet so, if we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified with Him. The sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come that shall be revealed in us.” (Rm 8:16-18) 

 

“What we suffer at this present time cannot be compared at all with the glory that is going to be revealed in us…We know that all things work for good for those who love God…For I am convinced that neither life nor death…nor future things, nor powers nor any other creature can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus” (Rm 8:18, 28,38). 

 

Offering it Up: (2)Offering it Up (or “Making a Good Intention”) is done in both formal and informal ways. 

 

Formally, many Catholics make the Morning Offering to give to Our Lord that day’s efforts, works, joys, sufferings, and intentions. At the Mass, we consciously, silently, and privately offer ourselves up, along with the Son, to the Father during the Offertory. 

 

Informally, we “offer it up” by simply asking God in our own words to use a suffering as it occurs; we often do this for specific intentions (ex., “Use this pain, Lord, for the salvation of my brother…”). We might follow the example of the young St. Thérèse of Lisieux and make use of Sacrifice Beads, or the extraordinary among us might make the Heroic Act of Charity for the souls in Purgatory. 

 

It’s quite a discipline to react to suffering this way! In mental or physical pain? Drop something on your toe? Putting up with a co-worker who is making your life a living Hell? Enduring the constant ache of arthritis? Standing in line at the grocery and hating every minute of it? Spill the milk? Accept these things in peace, and ask God to use them for the good of the Church or for a more specific intention close to your heart. 

 

You’ll find that it is not uncommon to hear one Catholic tell another who is suffering to “offer it up” as a way of dealing with his suffering. It should be remembered, though, that while it is most definitely good to tell someone to “offer it up,” it is also easy — and that we are called, too, to comfort those who are suffering, to feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to care for the sick, etc. Telling someone to offer it up without also helping him to deal with the temporal and emotional effects of whatever he is going through is not the fully Christian response. Even Our Lord was helped while carrying His Cross: St. Veronica wiped the sweat and Blood from His Holy Face, and St. Simon of Cyrene helped Him bear the Cross itself. 

 

And always help the suffering to retain (or regain) hope that his suffering is not in vain. Assure him that he will partake of “the consolation”: 

 

The Ultimate in “Offering it up”: Victim Souls (2)A victim soul is someone who has been chosen by God to participate in Christ’s Passion in a very special way by manifesting the signs of His sufferings, often in their very own bodies. Suffering for the sake of love is their vocation, and such suffering is willingly accepted for the benefit of the Church. The attitude and plea of the victim soul is summed up by this prayer of St. Catherine of Siena, “The only cause of my death is my zeal for the Church of God, which devours and consumes me. Accept, O Lord, the sacrifice of my life for the Mystical Body of Thy holy Church. “ 

 

St. Lydwine of Schiedam, the Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich, and St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio) were three other such souls, and there have been many more. Often, but not necessarily, these souls receive the stigmata on the palms of their hands or on their feet, the wounds left by the crown of thorns, wounds in their sides as if made by a lance, stripes on their bodies as if caused by scourging, and other bodily phenomena that recall His Passion. 

 

In conclusion:“It is in suffering that we are withdrawn from the bright superficial film of existence, from the sway of time and mere things and find ourselves in the presence of profounder truth.” + Fr. Yves Conger, French priest-theologian. 

 

Jim Fritz 

 

Notes:(1) Why Do People Suffer?