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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Sunday Meditation: Jesus, the Man of Sorrows

Albrecht Dürer 1493
Have you ever reflected on the title of Jesus, Man of Sorrows? I have thought of little else these past ten days. God, Who made us for Himself, suffers even to the point of sacrificing every drop of His blood out of love for us, a love wrapped in suffering -- And all for our salvation.

Think of the awesomeness of that. God, in his divinity, can't suffer. He can't weep. He can't "feel sad" or be unhappy. But after the fall of man brought suffering into the world, God wanted us to realize that human suffering has meaning. It isn't pointless. It isn't a waste. It isn't the lying  mantra that, "Life's a bitch and then you die." Suffering means something. Even when our hearts rebel against it, we can embrace the pain in the knowledge that God will bring good out of it. Yes, let me say that again. No matter how heart-shattering our grief, God will bring good out of it! My Jesus, I trust in You!

The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity became a man -- "like us in all things but sin." He suffered in every way a person can suffer. He suffered physically from the wounds so eloquently witnessed to on the Shroud of Turin. He suffered mentally by the abandonment of his friends and the knowledge that so many would reject him to the point of willingly entering hell rather than accepting His love and mercy. He suffered spiritually, afflicted by the assaults and temptations of the devil with his lies and empty promises.

Jesus suffered to teach us how to suffer. His patience and abandonment to the Father's will during His passion teach us how to walk the royal road of pain and sacrifice even when every footstep is on broken glass. Even as every fiber of our being screams against it. We can still choose God's will, despite having to do it with gritted teeth.

Most of the saints experienced great suffering. Many suffered gruesome torture and death cheerfully. Many preached that suffering was the school of saints. St. Therese of Lisieux called suffering the "very best gift He has to give us. He gives it only to His chosen friends." St. Madeleine Sophie Barat said, "Our Lord who saved the world through the Cross, will only work for the good of souls through the Cross." St. Gerard Majella urged souls saying, "Only one thing is necessary in your anguish: bear everything with resignation to the Divine Will."

One who loves babies
is very close to God!
I confess that right now it all sounds like empty words to me. I can easily believe St. Augustine when he says, "By the law of nature, there is no pleasure in suffering." But when he says that, "Divine Love, when It reigns in a heart, makes it take delight in its sufferings," I want to scream and say, "Impossible!" How can there be any delight in the suffering that comes from the loss of a young person to suicide? The human heart rebels at what seems like a blasphemy against life!

Added to that is the agony of witnessing the suffering of others: the grieving parents, the confused siblings, the aunts, uncles, and cousins all asking "what could I have done to stop it?"

How can one make any sense of it?

And yet the road lies ahead and we all must continue to walk it -- walk through the "valley of the shadow of death." We must walk it in sorrow without our beloved child, grandson, cousin, nephew, friend. Give us the strength and courage to continue the journey, Lord.

The sun came out this morning after a week of torrential rain. It is, for me, a sign of hope. Right now, hope is my lifeline -- and the faith that can't see the end of the story, but trusts in God's promises and His unfathomable love.


  1. I'm sorry for the loss and pray for you and your family. Your words are helping me during my loss of my job.

  2. Thank you so much for your prayers. Prayer is the best gift anyone can give us at present! Today I'll be praying that the Lord provides you a job that will bring you closer to Him.

  3. I commend you for your strength. For posting this, through your profound, unimaginable grief. I will pass this on, to friends who our suffering greatly. Please know that your posts are helping someone out there, to get through their own personal suffering. God bless you and your family. Continued prayers for you...

  4. Thank you, Janness. I hope you are right that our grief can be offered to help others and God will bring good out of it. There is no other anchor in the storm but Jesus, and our boat is definitely rocked by wind and waves right now. Like John Bosco's dream, I'm tying up to the two pillars of the Eucharist and devotion to Mary. Of all the saints, she above all knows what it is to suffer the loss of a child. Whenever I look at the Pieta, I see my daughter holding Brendan. Please pray for her and her family, and, of course, our darling Brendan.

    I can't even begin to imagine his parents' grief and my own is worse than any I've ever experienced in my life. Suicide shakes the foundation to the core. May God use all this suffering to save souls.

  5. Continued hugs and prayers!