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The Value of Suffering


St Therese of Child Jesus "Letters", Story of the Soul

The Passion of Jesus teaches us in a concrete way that in the Christian life we must be able to accept suffering for the love of God. This is a hard and repugnant task for our nature, which naturally prefers comfort and happiness. Suffering in itself is an evil and cannot be agreeable; but Jesus willed to embrace it in all its plenitude for our sake, he offers it to us and invites us to esteem and love it - as the only means to accomplish the sublime good of our redemption and the sanctification of our souls. God willed to exempt our first parents from suffering by preternatural gifts, but through sin, these gifts were lost forever, and suffering inevitably entered our life. the gamut of sufferings which has harassed humanity is therefore direct outcome of the disorder caused by sin, not only by original sin, but also by actual sins. Yet Church chants: O happy fault! Why? The answer lies in infinite love of God which transform everything and draws from the double evil of sin and suffering the great good of the redemption of the human race. When Jesus took upon Himself the sins of mankind, He also assumed their consequences, that is, suffering and death; and this suffering, embraced by Him during his whole life, and especially in His Passion, became the instrument of our redemption. Let St Therese speak on the value of suffering:

"O Lord, You do not like to make us suffer, but You know it is the only way to prepare us to know You as You know Yourself, tp prepare us to become like You. You know well that if You sent me but a shadow of earthly happiness, I should cling cling to it with all the intense ardour of my heart, and so You refuse me even this shadow... because you wish that my heart be wholly Yours.

Life passes quickly that it is obviously better to have a most splendid crown and a little suffering, than an ordinary crown and no suffering. When I think that, for a sorrow borne with joy, i shall be able to love You more for all eternity, I understand clearly that if You gave me the entire universe, with all its treasures, it would be nothing in comparison to the slightest suffering. Each new suffering, each oang of the heart, is a gentle wind to bear to You, o Jesus, the perfume of the soul that loves You; then you smile lovingly, and immediately make ready a new grief, and fill the cup to the brim, thinking the more the soul grows in love, the more it must grow in suffering too.

What a favour, my Jesus, and how You must love me to send me suffering! Eternity itself will not be long enough to bless You for it. Why this predilection? it is a secret which You will reveal to me in our heavenly home on the day when You will wipe away all our tears.

I am happy not to be free from suffering here; suffering united with love is the only thing that seems desirable to me in this vale of tears (St Therese of Child Jesus "Letters", Story of the Soul)

As Carmelites We live our life of allegiance to Jesus Christ and to serve Him faithfully with a pure heart and a clear conscience through a commitment to seek the face of the living God (the contemplative dimension of life), through prayer, through fraternity, and through service (diakonia). These three fundamental elements of the charism are not distinct and unrelated values, but closely interwoven. 

All of these we live under the protection, inspiration and guidance of Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, whom we honor as "our Mother and sister." 


ocarmpage | by Dr. Radut