Catholics have purpose and meaning by offering up suffering, especially those who were “called” to suffer. Remember that the Catholic Church was built on the blood of the martyrs.
St. Faustina was well versed in the concept of suffering for the sake of others. In her diary #67, she wrote the following:
“You are not living for yourself but for souls, and other souls will profit from your sufferings. Your prolonged suffering will give them the light and strength to accept My will.”
St. Faustina’s words were God’s, and God’s words to the saints have timeless, universal meaning.
There are also many verses in the Bible that explain suffering for others. Take this verse by that was written by the hand of Paul, the apostle, in Colossians 1:24:
“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church.”
Was Paul referring to something incomplete in Christ’s sufferings at Calvary? Of course not. Instead, St. Paul is allowing us – as mere men – to align our own suffering with Christ’s. This purifies our souls and injects purpose and intention into our personal travails. Jesus is ALLOWING us to participate in the depths of suffering for the benefit of ourselves and others.
Now look at Ephesians 3:13:
“So I ask you not to lose heart over my afflictions for you; this is your glory.”
St. Paul, the apostle, endured his own share of suffering. He was given 49 lashes – five separate times, beaten with rods three, endured shipwreck and was stoned once. He was stranded at sea (without a boat) for “a night and a day.” He was imprisoned, robbed, hungry, thirsty, cold and naked – all against his will. He was also given a “thorn in the flesh” that he asked God three times to take from him, but God didn’t. At the end of his life, he chose to be crucified upside down because – out of honor for Christ – he did not want his death to be a repeat of his Lord’s.
If anyone was familiar with suffering, it was St. Paul, who viewed his afflictions as his glory. Paul offered them up for the suffering church and the salvation of those who did not know Jesus.
Offer up your sick child or jealousy, your resentment or your cancer for the souls in Purgatory. They will thank you for it later. Offer up your unemployment for the children of divorce. Offer up your turbulent marriage for the women considering abortion. God will meet you in the furnace of your affliction and give your suffering purpose and renewed meaning.