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Encouraged and Strengthened in Our Afflictions


"We are healed of a suffering only by experiencing it in full." ~ Marcel Proust

My travels this week take me to Orange Beach, Alabama for a family vacation with my mother, brother, and sister and their families. Saint Thomas by the Sea right here in Orange Beach is where I’ll be attending daily mass in the mornings and as is my custom, the photos I choose for my daily reflections this week while l on the road will be taken from within the church.

As you can see, the stain glass windows are beautiful, but those depicting the Glorious Mysteries on the east side of the church recently suffered heavy water damage as a result of Hurricane Sally and are thus boarded up. The stain glass windows illustrating the Sorrowful Mysteries on the other hand remain intact. Perhaps that’s appropriate in light of the topic of today’s 1st Reading, taken from the beginning of Paul’s 2nd Letter to the people of Corinth (2 Corinthians 1:1-7).

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all encouragement,” proclaims Saint Paul, “who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God.” I reflected on the notion of the Church serving as the Mystical Body of Christ this past Saturday as I have quite often actually, and here again today we see Saint Paul, the very author of this doctrine (Romans 12:5,1 Corinthians 12:12–27, Ephesians 3:6, 4:15–16 and 5:23, Colossians 1:18 and 1:24) going back to it. As one body with Christ acting as the head, we serve each other, encourage each other, work in harmony with each other and yes, embolden and learn from each other.

All suffering in fact has meaning, the greatest example of course found in our Lord’s passion and death. In time we conform our lives to that reality, forsaking the grumbling and self-pity of the faithless secular world, which marinates in that mentality. We come to realize that there’s something far greater at play than the temporary pain we are asked to endure. Suffering we come to realize can not only be offered up to God, but it in fact galvanize us; it makes us stronger. It allows us to grow closer to Jesus, who suffered every indignity while bearing all. Suffering allows Jesus to remain in us (John 15:4). And through suffering, we remain in Jesus.

I leave you with a quote from Saint Rose of Lima, words that most definitely warrant contemplation. She said “If only mortals would learn how great it is to possess divine grace, how beautiful, how noble, how precious. How many riches it hides within itself, how many joys and delights! No one would complain about his cross or about troubles that may happen to him, if he would come to know the scales on which they are weighed when they are distributed to men.” To those of you who are currently going through difficult times, please know that you are in my prayers. And know that you will come out of it stronger and more grace-filled. After all, as the Venerable Fulton J. Sheen was prone to say,“Sometimes the only way the Lord can get into some hearts is to break them.”

“I sought the Lord and he answered meand delivered me from all my fears.” ~ Psalm 34:-5

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