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16. How Calvary Relates to Your Season of Suffering

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Why do you believe that the Lord allows us to suffer?

As Catholics, we're striving for holiness. We constantly feel this desire to serve, this desire to be loved by God. And we feel God’s love in the Eucharist. We have this high that we’re like “God is SO good and I feel his love,” but then we have moments of suffering and moments of wondering where God is.

What is the cross? The cross is the biggest love story that there is. You look at Jesus on the cross and there's so many things that are going on. There is Simon, who helped him carry it, which is like a form of community. Who is carrying your cross? Who is helping you suffer in all of this? Then there's the women who are weeping that are suffering with God in that way, in this emotional “I'm there with you, Jesus. I'm here crying with you right in your face, suffering with you.” There's Mary, the suffering of a mother. There's suffering with these two bad people suffering with the King of Jesus on the cross. There are so many things happening at Calvary that we lose sight of the true love story of the cross.

The answer to your suffering is at the cross. It's at Calvary. The reason the Lord allows us to suffer is because there's this love, there's a supernatural love that we cannot comprehend. There's a love that is not comprehendible, and the only way we can comprehend it is to suffer. It sounds dark but let’s digest that.

You have to choose to love someone, right? It’s not easy–it’s a choice to love someone. When Jesus takes away all the highs and you are in a season of suffering, He is going to love us but do we choose to love Him in return? When you choose to love Him you grow in intimacy with Christ. There's an intimacy behind choosing to love somebody in the midst of suffering. 

People are afraid to suffer, is suffering a bad thing? 

There are people who are afraid to suffer and are afraid to go through hard seasons & forget to cling to the Lord. Is suffering a bad thing to go through? Absolutely not, I think that the reason people don’t know how to suffer is because they’ve minimized the cross. We get so used to going to church and seeing Jesus on the cross but not thinking anything of it. We get so used to going to mass and we lose sight of what God has truly given to us. Then it is so hard for us to suffer. 

Some of the greatest saints like St. Padre Pio and St. John of the Cross always talk about Calvary. Why are they always talking about The Passion? This is where Protestants are like, “Okay, Jesus resurrected. Why are we still talking about crucified Jesus? Jesus already beat that.” Yes, Jesus beat death and rose again, but the heart of Catholicism is in that sacrifice of God. He was slain for the world. The resurrection is just as important because it shows God's redemption, It shows Jesus beat death and that we are going to be in full union with God again, if we make that choice. But when we minimize the cross, then people are not willing to suffer or they don't understand the concept of suffering. 

So how can we maintain a prayer life in the midst of a season of suffering in our own lives? 

Don't go into the darkness alone. Don't do it. Don't go into a place of fear by yourself. It's not going to work. Bring someone with you, someone that you trust that will see you vulnerable and then fully love you afterwards. That's a form of prayer that you can get through suffering, because if you start saying, “I'll just pray more,” you're not going to be able to do it. 

Through these people that lift you up and that builds you, but then you can go pray with the Lord by yourself. One of the most important forms of prayer in suffering is your community that is going to allow you to be vulnerable and then be loved.  

If you are looking for someone to listen to you, please reach out to a local priest. They will listen and help guide you. That is the beauty of the church. There are people who love to listen, who love to guide others, and who love to love others. 

What do we get out of suffering? 

Intimacy. If you want to be intimate with the Lord, go through suffering with Him and bring Him with you. Make Jesus real. Make this man who died on the cross. Make him real. He knows you, he loves you. He knows your name. In my prayer life, I have been able to envision the Lord as my best friend, like envisioning him and I running through fields together, sitting down and talking, & bringing Him to life. 

What is one piece of advice that you want every young Catholic woman to know? 

“In regards to suffering, St. John of the Cross wrote a book called The Dark Night of the Soul. You think you're at the highest peak of your spirituality, and then he brings you back down ten levels, and you're like, ‘Well, never mind.’ St. John of the Cross once in his book, ‘Love consists not in feeling great things, but having great detachment and suffering for the beloved.’

It just goes back to what love is. Love isn't all these great things. It's detachment. It's detachment from the world and keeping your eyes fixed on the Beloved. I advise everyone, everyone married, not married, women, men, everyone, make Jesus your beloved.” -Ashley


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