St. Angela wrote before the Protestant Revolt. She would be intrigued and upset by the millions of Christians who do not see the value of redemptive suffering, but continually see suffering as only punishment from God.
That suffering is a direct result from sin is obviously true. But, too many of our separated brethren cannot see the value of following the afflictions of body and soul which Christ endured.
Those of us who struggle with giving up our self-wills to God understand the need for suffering. Those who flee from tribulation cannot see the madness of such activities as seeking constantly after comforts and happiness in this world.
The fact that God has given us a prime example of how to be holy in this world is a fact no Christian can ignore.
Why is it so hard to understand that trials bring about the life of virtue? When we have difficulties, we storm heaven and as
Angela states, “…we do weary God and the saints with constant prayers, with
promises and vows of fasting, pilgrimages, and atonements. Thus merely that we
may be spared those pains and afflictions which are profitable unto us and are
sent from God, we do all these and many other things which we would not do for
the remission of our sins or the good of our soul.”
The heroic virtue of patience is thus set aside. The courage which comes from endurance is missed. The chances to break away from pride and vainglory are passed by for
It takes a maturity to stop praying for relief of suffering and to accept it fully, facing all the hardships and necessities for us to be made perfect.
I am just learning this myself. Having to phone homeless shelters to find out if there were any rooms smashed most, (not all), of my false pride in my own achievements and status. Being refused jobs which I could easily do and for which I have experience has shown me that God is the only door to success-not myself, nor even reliance on others.
“Put not your trust in princes,” has never been more true than now, after I have written to all those in power I could think of in order to return to the country I love the most.
Now, if one does this merely to suffer, one is crazy. But the goal is this-union with the Beloved Bridegroom.
Is that not worth all discomfort and pain?
Returning to the Song of Songs, one sees, as I have noted on this blog before, the removal of the Bridegroom from the Bride. This is a necessary part of the purgation of the predominant fault. And, the only way is through suffering.
What makes all the difference is the glimpse of God, the hand of the Bridegroom on the doorknob, the small hint of love. For the one who loves, the fight against self and the acceptance of suffering in absolutely worth it.
Would not anyone desire going down a difficult path if one knew Love was at the end of the road, waiting?
As St. Angela points out if people could find God through riches, jewels, status, only a few would be able to reach Him. But, as all humans suffer, so it is that all men can find Love.
The lights on this path are patience and cheerfulness.
Pray for those two gifts when you are in pain.
The only thing which makes suffering worthwhile is Love, and He is a Person.
To be continued…