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  • Sarah Raad

Expiation

Suffering is but the loving embrace of our Eternal God!

Jesus with Crown (Laur Iduc)

The other day, my little boy came home from school and had had a terrible day. It was the sort of day when everything went wrong for him. And boy did we hear about it! He ranted and raved and fumed until at last he seemed to have got everything off his chest. Finally, when he was done, and all the deep frustrations of his day had been expressed, he took a deep breath, came back to me and said, “Sorry Mum.”


That day he really was a very human little person expressing very human little anger about a very little human problem that seemed so big to him that he simply could not cope with it.


Later that evening, when he was safely tucked away in his bed and I was reflecting on the afternoon, I got to thinking about how my little boy had coped with all the anger and frustration of his day. He was really not so very different from me – the apple does not fall far from the tree, or so it seems... Sometimes, this world seems so overwhelmingly difficult that it seems that there is simply no way to proceed, and nothing will soothe the hurt or heal the angst.


It makes me wonder what the purpose of this life could possibly be – this life in this valley of tears…


For one thing is certain… We suffer in this life. Sometimes we suffer in a manner that feels so all-encompassing and so overwhelming that we feel that we cannot go on. Sometimes, even the little sorrows are so overwhelming that we cannot continue and we struggle to see the light.

But He is the Way, the Truth and the Light and ALL who come to Him will have rest…

At times like these, when our sorrows are great – whether we are the chosen few who suffer immense sorrows, or those like my son who suffer in the little things that dissolve away to nothingness with just a bit of time – suffering is a terrible terrible burden.


So, what is the point? In my opinion, the worst and most dreadful kind of suffering is suffering that occurs when one is alone and afraid.


Christ felt that suffering in the anguished silence at Gethsemane. He suffered in the silence, because in that Garden, Christ – who is ONE with the Father and the Holy Spirit – heard nothing...


Christ said, “‘Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.’ An angel from Heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him. And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:42-44).


But in the silence, God sent the angel to His Beloved Son. Through this we know that though we too at times suffer in silence, in our suffering silence, the angel comes to us too…


And we can USE our suffering. It can DO something. It can CHANGE something... It can EXPIATE.

And what is expiation? It is making amends. It is asking forgiveness. It is making reparation. It is atoning for a wrong.

Saint Padre Pio explained it beautifully when he said… “Suffering is expiation. Suffering is necessary for our souls. In suffering we give something to God, which we cannot do in Paradise.”


I get that now. I see it!


Our suffering is our gift to God.


Our suffering is our sacrifice to atone for our sins.


The other day, I was speaking with a dear one who tragically refuses to acknowledge God. How terribly difficult his life seems to me. How terribly barren and empty and bare.


Who does he give his sufferings to? Who does he use his sorrows for?


If he lives only to die, what is the point of his life?


How this tragic soul wounds my heart. How lonely I see him there standing with all the millions and billions and trillions of other tragic souls… I pray for this lonely soul, and all the other lonely souls who cannot see the Grace of God around them.


For though this dear one laughs at my faith, his sorrows must surely bring him to tears. How easy it must seem to him to laugh.


And yet, it is he and not I who has chosen the more difficult road.


For when he suffers it feels to him that his suffering is pointless and that he is alone. What a terrible heartbreaking tragedy that is…


I grieve for him and all the other zillions of souls who refuse to see the face of God.


For their suffering is for nothing, and so it is that throw away this precious jewel into a bottomless pit of despair…


How I pray for those, who cannot see that suffering as a sign of God’s love for us.

For when I suffer, I give glory to God and I am covered in His Holy Love and I hear the wonderful words of Saint Padre Pio ringing in my ears… “Isn’t this suffering a sure sign that God loves you?”

And in my pain, my heart is filled with hope, and through my tears I find great joy.


So now, I pray unceasingly that their hearts will also fill with hope and joy and love one day. And on that day, they will know that they were never ever alone…


And then, they will bow down underneath their cross, and cry their tears of joy – giving all their sufferings in expiation to my Beloved.


And on that day – how all the angels will sing for joy!


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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