Suffering shared is suffering sanctified!
In and of itself suffering has no positive value!   It all depends upon one thing: uniting our suffering with the suffering of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!  Once this “Divine-connection” has been established, then and only then, does human suffering have positive value.

Suffering can be of many forms and of different degrees of intensity as well as duration.  Physical suffering, emotional suffering, psychological suffering, economic suffering, family suffering, spiritual suffering, and moral suffering--- all are forms of suffering but different in expression.

What you do to your brother/sister you do to me!
Suffering can make us either better or bitter!  Suffering without any vertical-or divine connection inevitably transforms the individual who suffers into a bitter, angry, and spiteful person.   A “Masochist” suffers only for the sake of suffering and nothing more.   A “Sadist” rejoices in the suffering of others!   A Stoic strives with all of the energy in his will to eliminate all ways and manners  of suffering.

Jesus never promised His followers that they would be freed from the reality of suffering.  On the contrary, as a primary condition to be His follower, He stated: “If anyone wishes to be my follower, he must renounce himself, take up his cross and follow me.”   Taking up the cross is another way of saying to accept the reality of suffering in one’s life.

Joey Velasquez and Jesus with the suffering children
Jesus did not simply preach the reality of suffering and its value, but He also put into practice what He preached in the clearest way imaginable--- the Cross, Calvary, and Crucifixion!   Jesus did not flee from the cross; nor did He avoid the Dolorous Way of Calvary, much less did He renounce the nails, the cross and the spear all present in the Crucifixion.

THE REASON!   The reason for the many and painful aspects of Jesus’ suffering was to obey the will of the Heavenly Father, but also to show to all of humanity and to each and every one of us individually indeed how much He loves us.

Jesus suffered His Passion to save all of humanity but also to save each and every one of us individually.  It staggers the imagination the reality of Jesus suffering it all for you and for me as if we were the only individuals in the whole created world.  How great the love of God and His willingness to suffer to the point of shedding His Precious Blood for my eternal salvation.

 TAKING ADVANTAGE OF MY SUFFERING.  How then can I take advantage of my own suffering so that when suffering does visit me--- and it will sooner or later—it will not transform me into a bitter person but rather into a much better person!

No greater love than to give one's life!
First, CONTEMPLATE THE PASSION OF CHRIST.   Make it a habit to contemplate some element of the Passion, suffering and death of Jesus frequently.  Why not choose “Friday” every week to take at least one aspect of the Passion of Christ and spend some time in silence and prayer meditating and contemplating Jesus’ supreme love for you in His suffering. It might be the Blood that poured out of His Body in the Garden; or it might be the Scourge wounds leaving His Sacred Body an open gaping wound; it might be one of the many thorns that pierced His Sacred brow; moreover, it might be the nail that pierced one of his feet; finally, it might be  His Precious Blood oozing forth from His wounds as He hung valiantly on the Cross. Choose and contemplate any detail that moves you to love the Lord Jesus more intensely.

JPII taught us how to suffer and alleviate suffering
Second, RESIGNATION TO GOD’S WILL.   When God deigns to send you suffering in whatever form it might be, strive immediately to accept the suffering with trust and confidence, with the full-awareness that Jesus purposely has sent this suffering to you because He loves you and wants you to share at least to a limited degree in His suffering.  Whatever God sends us is always for our benefit and well-being.  Remember the Augustinian concept:  God can allow what appears to be evil--- various forms of suffering—to bring a greater good out of it!

 Third, BEG FOR THE GRACE.   It is not wrong to beg to be freed from suffering.  In His Agony in the Garden, Jesus begged the Father three times to free Him from the chalice of suffering, but always with the concluding words, “Not my will but yours be done.”  However, if God deems it best not to take that cross from you, then He indeed will bring greater future blessings from it.    We live in the present moment, but God sees all at once. He sees A to Z and has the jig-saw puzzle already assembled.   In the light of the salvation of your soul and eternity God could allow that cross for your purification, sanctification and eternal salvation. God sees the over-all picture.    We are like an ant at the foot of an enormous mountain; God is like an  eagle hovering over the mountain. Obviously, God’s vantage point and His perspective far transcends the vision of the little ant—that is us!

St. Catherine of Siena, mystic, Doctor and stigmatist
Fourth, UNITE IT TO THE MASS AND CALVARY.  Of  greatest importance, in sanctifying our suffering, is its relation to Mass and Calvary.  At every celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Jesus offers Himself as the spotless Victim for the salvation of the world.   To maximize to the fullest extent possible the value of our suffering, we must place it on the altar in the Sacrifice of the Mass. At the moment of Consecration, when the Body of Jesus is being elevated on high to God the Father, we should place our sufferings on the paten beside Jesus.   Then when we receive Holy Communion, offering our sufferings to Jesus and with Jesus, countless graces and blessings will flow upon you, your family, the Church as well as the whole world.  God the Father will see you on the cross with His Beloved Son in whom He is well-pleased!

Go to Mary. She will be your consolation!
Fifth, OUR LADY OF SORROWS (STABAT MATER).  After Jesus nobody ever suffered to the extent of Mary, the Mother of God, known also with the title “Our Lady of Sorrows”.   Saint Juan Diego ran to Our Lady of Guadalupe in his bitter sufferings--- the possible death of his uncle Juan Bernardino. Immediately Our Lady responded to Juan Diego healing instantaneously the elderly man.  In our sufferings—physical, emotional, family, economic, moral, or even spiritual--- why not turn to Our Lady of Sorrows and place all in her Immaculate Heart.  Through her powerful prayers she will turn your thorn into a rose, storm into rainbow, death into life,  and Good Friday into the Glory of the Risen Lord Jesus!

In conclusion, my friends, let us all come to terms with the inevitable and unavoidable reality of human suffering. Let us not waste it but rather unite it to the suffering, passion and death of Jesus with the firm conviction and limitless hope that suffering united with Jesus purifies, elevates, ennobles, and sanctifies.  If done in this way suffering will not make us bitter individuals but better!  “We adore you O Christ and we bless you because by your cross you have redeemed the world.”

Our Lady of Fatima and the children offer sacrifices