Il valore sofferenza

Il valore sofferenza

If you don’t speak or understand Italian, the title of this piece is beyond your understanding. But, if you have a knack for figuring out what another language is saying, you may discover that it means, “The Value of Suffering.” The reason for choosing Italian is that it is the language of Madre Provvidenza, a dear friend and the Foundress of the Missionaries of Faith. Mamma, as her children call her, passed from this life in 2001. Even though Madre was totally blind she has many writings in the form of recorded cassettes that are being reviewed to help bring her cause forward. The Sisters send out a booklet on a regular basis with small articles of some of Madre’s writings. The most recent mailing gave me the idea for this post.

[I] want to begin with something that Madre Provvidenza had in her article to help explain the value of suffering. I’ll do my best to translate as closely as possible without changing any of Madre’s meaning. First of all, she chose the word “martyr” in Italian “martirio” to give a clear explanation. Here is how she did it:

M = Morire a tutto-Dying at all

To die to all

Denouncing the world

A = Amare Iddio-Loving God

To love God with

all your strength, heart and soul

R = Redimere le anime-To redeem the souls

To win souls for Jesus

To be a part of Christ’s redemption

T = Testimoniare il Cristo-Testiminiare the Christ

To give testimony to Christ

Be a witness to Christ

I = Insegnare ai frateli-Teach brothers

To give instruction

To catechize

R = Rettificare le vie-Rectify the streets

To give assurance

To publicly acclaim the Truth

I– Imitare il Crocefisso-Imitate the Crucifix

To be a living sacrifice

Place yourself on the cross

O = Operare il Bene-Operate the Good

To do good works

To follow God’s will

In following the progression of the meaning given to each letter, I think the word martyr or martirio comes to life. First of all, you have to understand that a martyr is not always someone who was burned at the stake, beheaded or stoned to death for the sake of the faith and love of God. These are the truest martyrs and have been given a special grace to suffer in such a manner. However, we all suffer some kind of martyrdom everyday. But, do we accept what we suffer or do we complain and shake our fist at God and say, “Why do you do this to me? It’s all your fault! Blah, blah, blah. . ..”

No, it’s not God’s fault that we suffer, but our own. We must pay for our own faults and those of others if necessary, to gain eternal life and/or lessen our or their stint in Purgatory. Shaking our fist and getting angry can only increase our sentence, or even worse, cause us damnation should we fall so far away from God.

Madre Provvidenza embraced her suffering and she was an advocate of suffering. She did her share of suffering while she lived, beginning with her blindness and then the seven years until the Foundation of the Missionaries of Faith. She was sent out with no money or means of support to find a bishop who would accept her and the foundation of a new Order. Madre relied on Divine Providence to take care of all her needs. There were times of hunger, cold, no sleep, no shelter. This would be scary enough for someone with sight. Madre developed more maladies as time went on, but she suffered them all for the love of God, for priests in particular and any soul in need. I’m sure she knew some of the souls for which she suffered, but we don’t always know who. Sometimes it’s necessary to ask for the grace to suffer for the conversion of a soul, or the health of a loved one. But if we ask, we must be ready to pay for that soul and not complain. Rather, we should say “thank you” for being allowed to participate in the work of Christ’s redemption. That’s what being a martyr is all about and we need to keep this in mind always at the ready to offer our aches, pains, misfortunes, or whatever God sends us for the sake of souls.

As Catholics, how fortunate we are to have this available to us. To have those willing to suffer for us and with us for those most in need. Offering your day with all its ups and downs for the poor souls in Purgatory is a wonderful grace and should not be overlooked. Offer your day when the alarm sounds in the morning, “Lord, I give you this day for the soul of N. or the souls in Purgatory. They need us and we need them! Keep a smile on your face and have a great day!

So, you’ve given the day for a particular soul or the poor souls. Now, before you retire for the night, make your examination of conscience and see how you did. Think of the worst thing that happened to you today… how did you handle the situation? Not so good . . . well now think of the best thing that happened today. How did you handle that? Hmm . . . a bit prideful or with great charity? Well, you know where and what your faults were for the day, make a good Act of Contrition. Don’t let these failings go to waste, offer them as well for those souls that you offered all your sufferings and pray again, “Thank you for sending all that had to suffer today for N. and I pray it was beneficial and I offer my failings and ask for the grace to handle the situation or one like it more to Your liking.”

I hope this piece has been beneficial to you in understanding the value of suffering and why it is so necessary. Suffering brings grace to those in need that cannot or will not pray for themselves. We also benefit from suffering to shorten our stay in Purgatory. So, no more complaining or fist shaking, embrace, accept and win souls for Jesus. Suffer well, pilgrim, suffer well!

Before you go, pick a martyr and see if their life and suffering included all the points made by Madre Provvidenza. I’m sure you’ll find that it truly did. There are two kinds of martyrs: red and white. Red martyrs die by violence, shedding their blood. White saints die a death of total love of God usually accompanied with physical ailments, for example. Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.

To learn more about Madre Provvidenza visit the official web site.

Helping Hand

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