We don’t have to look very far to find suffering; all of us suffer to varying degrees. While we should work to alleviate suffering (ours and others’), in this fallen world it is impossible to eradicate it altogether. But take heart: God can use our suffering to accomplish His mighty deeds!
The Church teaches us about the value of suffering: “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” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1505).
The late great Fr. John Hardon, S.J., defines suffering thus: “[Suffering is t]he disagreeable experience of soul that comes with the presence of evil or the privation of some good. Although commonly synonymous with pain, suffering is rather the reaction to pain, and in this sense suffering is a decisive factor in Christian spirituality.
“Absolutely speaking, suffering is possible because we are creatures, but in the present order of Providence suffering is the result of sin having entered the world.
“Its purpose, however, is not only to expiate wrongdoing, but to enable the believer to offer God a sacrifice of praise of his divine right over creatures, to unite oneself with Christ in his sufferings as an expression of love, and in the process to become more like Christ, who, having joy set before him, chose the Cross, and thus ‘to make up all that has still to be undergone by Christ for the sake of His body, the Church’ (Colossians 1:24).” (About Colossians 1:24, Catholic Answers says: “What this doesn’t mean is that Christ’s death on the cross was incomplete with regard to redeeming the whole human race and reuniting it with God. There is nothing that anyone can add to the infinite value of the cross.”)
Our beloved foundress Mother Angelica, had much suffering throughout her life, and she spoke frequently about redemptive suffering. She tells us:
“Paul offered his sufferings for the good of his brethren, the Jews, for he told Timothy, ‘I have my own hardships to bear, even to being chained like a criminal — but they cannot chain up God’s news. So I bear it all for the sake of those who are chosen, so that in the end they may have the salvation that is in Christ Jesus and the eternal glory that comes with it’ (2 Timothy 2:9-10, emphasis added)….
“Every pain we endure with love, every cross borne with resignation, benefits every man, woman, and child in the Mystical Body of Christ. Those who are chosen to bear a greater portion of suffering than others are called by God to heal the souls of many whose lives are bereft of the knowledge and love of God. Redemptive Suffering not only helps poor sinners directly by suffering for them but edifies and consoles good and holy souls as they journey through life striving for holiness.
“This dual role of Redemptive Suffering merits for those chosen by God for such a role, a glory and happiness in the Kingdom beyond our concepts or imagination. Like Jesus, their sufferings, united to His, rise to Heaven and obtain grace and repentance for those who are straying from God and His Love.”
Many people today, likely including some of your friends and loved ones, suffer from mental, emotional, and nervous issues. Did you know there is a special patron saint for these people?
St. Dymphna was born in Ireland in the 7th century to a devout Christian mother and a pagan father (a king). At a young age, she took a vow of chastity. After her mother died, Dymphna’s severely depressed father wanted to marry his daughter, whereupon Dymphna fled to Belgium. But her father’s spies located her, and when she still refused, her father drew his sword and decapitated her.
St. Dymphna’s relics were placed in a church later built in her honor. The Church of St. Dymphna burned in 1489, but a new church was built and consecrated in 1532. Many miraculous cures have occurred through St. Dymphna’s intercession.
St. Dymphna’s feast day is May 15, and she is the patron saint of those suffering from mental disorders, as well as those which are emotional or nervous.
Saint Dymphna Prayer
Good Saint Dymphna, great wonder-worker in every affliction of mind and body, I humbly implore your powerful intercession with Jesus through Mary, the Health of the Sick, in my present need. (Mention it.) Saint Dymphna, martyr of purity, patroness of those who suffer with nervous and mental afflictions, beloved child of Jesus and Mary, pray to them for me and obtain my request.
Pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be.
Saint Dymphna, virgin and martyr, pray for us.
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