Women have a special ability to preserve hope and trust in God when serving and suffering. That is how they can be there for others, especially their children and husbands. Their happiness comes from loving others and making them happy in spite of the sacrifices this entails. They give life and devote their lives to these children and the children’s fathers. (A continuation analysis of Fr. Karl Stehlin’s book; “The Nature, Dignity and Mission of Woman”)
The Queen of Heaven, Mary, called herself the “slave of the Lord”. She received the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings into her womb and gave Him birth. She loved and nurtured Him. And at the foot of the cross she accepted the great responsibility by becoming mother to us all that are members of the Mystical Body of Christ. Each woman is called to imitate the Immaculata. She was subordinate to St. Joseph and did her part to form the Holy Family. Each woman is called likewise to be God fearing, self effacing and love enhancing. She gives the example to her husband and children so that they also will be holy, reverent and obedient to God.
Ever since the fall of Adam and Eve, suffering has entered the world. But Jesus took that suffering and punishment and made it the greatest expression of love on the cross. Mary participated in Jesus’ suffering in the most profound way. We can never understand to what degree Mary suffered seeing her beloved Son tortured to death.
Women’s nature develops in the context of suffering. Even though she is the only sex that can bear children, she does so in pain. She suffers when her children are sick or in trouble. If for some reason she is barren, she suffers terribly too. She suffers seeing them leave the Catholic faith. Virgins choose suffering by becoming spiritual mothers. They renounce all that is natural for a woman; the love of a husband, the warmth of a home, the bringing forth life and holding their child. Being a woman means suffering. Those who try to avoid it, deny their very nature.
Conchita Cabrera de Armida, a wife, a mother and a mystic, saw a vision of “the cross of the apostolate”, and above it was written, “Love and Suffering”. “Amor y Dolor”. Love leads to suffering. But it also leads out of suffering because love is stronger than suffering.
When St. Francis receive the Stigmata on the 17th. of September, he asked God to be able to suffer all that He had suffered on the Cross, but also to have all the love He had to endure it. In suffering love is perfected. It is not longer just sentimental feelings, but and effective deed, the living gift of oneself. Jesus shows us this example when he gave Himself on the cross out of love to save us. Through His suffering, He conquered death, sin and the devil.
A woman uniting her suffering with Mary below the cross, can participate in the resurrection and new life that Jesus won for us. But she needs the great faith that Mary had to know that her suffering would be victorious when she united it to Jesus’ suffering. The everyday toils, annoyances and grinding routines tests her to see to what degree she has faith and love. When you put suffering in its right perspective, you will see that your patience and smiles bring comfort into a cold world. It shows that God will overcome in the end and new life comes from these difficult times. It may not come when we want it, but it does eventually come.
St. Rose of Lima had a mystical experience where Jesus taught her about suffering. She said she wanted to go out in the streets and scream; “If only you knew how much graces come from suffering, you would ask for more suffering.” She chose to suffer so much. She slept on a bed of thorns, rocks and glass that she herself disliked. Most of the saints suffered so much.
Reading the martyrology everyday shows what suffering the martyrs went through. The saints chose suffering as the means of purification. St. Francis said that “without doing penance there is no salvation”. But they suffered out of love for God and the Catholic faith.
We traditional Catholics know plenty about suffering from what we are going through right now from our own Church. But we are suffering in service to the Church. It will only be by suffering that the Church will be restored and renewed. The cross came before the resurrection. Let us help carry each other’s crosses. That is why it is so important to stay united in love and encourage each other.
The original author of this blog passed away in July of 2016. RIP Father Carota.