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Friday, September 18, 2015

Funeral Today: Always a Good Time to Reflect on What's Really Important

This has been a summer of funerals. Today was our fourth in just a few short months. What was particularly memorable at today's funeral was one son's wonderful "memorial" to his father near the end of Mass. It wasn't the typical eulogy about all the great things Dad accomplished. He gave a very brief testimonial of how his Dad's faith and fidelity brought him back to the Church. He called himself a "prodigal son" but testified to his dad's never wavering in the faith. I couldn't help noticing at Communion that only about half the family went up to receive. Later I was talking to someone who said the mom told him her husband offered all his suffering that his children would return to the faith. I felt like that son's testimonial was a spark that might reignite the flame of faith in some of his relatives.

The son's talk was a terrific reminder that SUFFERING HAS A PURPOSE! So many people these days see physician assisted suicide and other death hastening methods as a way to avoid suffering. They seem to see suffering as only a negative, the worst thing that can happen. But it is in our suffering that we most resemble the Savior in His passion. And we can participate in that saving mission by joining our sufferings to His.

I want to promise the Lord to never waste a minute of suffering (give me courage to do that, Lord) -- whether its the painful swelling from a bee sting (Got one of those this week when a honeybee got up my pants leg while we were checking the hives), the emotional pain of rejection by a friend, the grief of losing a loved one, or just the everyday kinds of crucifixion by thumbtack that happen to all of us.

Never waste suffering.

I think of the three little shepherds at Fatima who responded so quickly to Mary when she asked if they would accept all the sufferings the Lord wished to send them. They didn't stop to ponder, they responded with a resounding yes. And then they looked for opportunities every day to comfort the hidden Jesus (as Francisco often said) and save poor sinners from falling into hell (little Jacinta's fervent prayer).

Suffering has a purpose. Let me say it again. Don't listen to the world; but know and believe that suffering has a purpose. Your suffering might save a beloved child or grandchild from hell. It might be the source of grace that lights up a dark mind or melts a cold, hard heart.

And if you can suffer with a smile -- Wow! What a blessing. Let's all practice on the small sufferings so that when the big ones come we'll be ready. May God give you all the grace today that you need to cope with and accept your suffering. Let's all use our sufferings to save souls!


  1. Great post from me too.

    I really cannot say that I've had the guts or temerity to as God to let me suffer. I mean really suffer and not the normal life stuff a 55 year old encounters just like everyone else.
    The daily contradictions and living a life with the Holy Mother as model had not always worked out for me. Too much pride and weakness.

    The worst suffering I ever had was a period of about 5 years where on of my kids suffered OCD, food phobia and an eating disorder. Seeing him suffer and sicken was a terrible experience for him and for his mom (my wife). OTH, I can honestly say that I could not have made it through without the sacraments, the holy mass and especially the eucharist. That period drew me much much closer to God.

    "You shall accept all sufferings with love. Do not be afflicted if your heart often experiences repugnance and dislike for sacrifice. All its power rests in the will, and so these contrary feelings, far from lowering the value of sacrifice in My eyes, will enhance it."
    as told to St. Faustina, 1767

  2. I'm a coward and never ask for suffering, but these days I don't have to ask, just take the ones that come from aging with a willing heart. Getting old is definitely not for sissies or whiners.

    Thanks for the quote from Sr. Faustina. I know from the saints that suffering is the royal road to sanctity, but it's still hard to be cheerful in the midst of it.

    Thanks for sharing a little of your story. I think the worst suffering is probably watching our children suffer. I know I'd rather suffer than have either my children or grandchildren suffer.