“The way of the Cross is the road which leads to Paradise; it is the sure way to holiness. The Passion of Christ is the greatest and most stupendous work of Divine Love.” - St. Paul of the Cross
The Cross leads to Paradise.
How often do we look at suffering as an experience that draws us to Heaven? I can honestly say it is normally not on the front of my thoughts when I encounter any kind of suffering. Most times, my first thought is shamefully, “why me?”
In our culture, suffering is seen as a negative, something to be removed with an urgency. Even in the smallest of sufferings we normally try to find an immediate remedy, for example, if we have a headache, we take advil. If we have a stuffy nose or sore throat we buy cold medicine. If we have any kind of discomfort, normally our first response is to restore ourselves to comfort immediately.
There is nothing wrong with taking advil or any kind of medication for pain, but how often do we pass up an opportunity to use that minor suffering for something greater than us? How often do we allow ourselves to feel uncomfortable?
There are three words that my mom would say when I was younger (and she still says to this day) that I am sure many of you have heard, and maybe like me, have forgotten to practice...
"Offer it up"
These three words were not a passive way to deal with ailments of little children (and many of them at that!) but more so an invitation to love, an invitation to something greater. I may not have grasped the meaning when I was younger, but as I continue to learn about love the more I realize how powerful those three words are.
We are approaching the three most important days in our faith, Holy Thursday (The Last Supper), Good Friday, and Easter Vigil/Easter Sunday. As we are brought back to this most crucial point in Salvation History, we clearly see the redemption in “offering it up.” Jesus offered up every single bit of pain and suffering He endured for the love of me, for the love of you! As hard as it is to be reminded of the painful death Jesus experienced, I can’t help but be humbled by how great His love is for me. With each step He took to Calvary, he offered it up for me and for you.
Suffering has a power that goes beyond us. Not because of anything we do but because of what has already been done. When we offer up our little sufferings we can unite ourselves to the “greatest and most stupendous work of Divine Love.” We can share in the greatest act of love ever known.
Suffering is inevitable but suffering is beautiful.
Let the suffering come. Offer it up because The Cross leads to Paradise.