“We face crises to remind us that we’re pilgrims, still on the way.The Father uses these moments to change us, to speed us along the way, to transform pilgrims into saints.” (Scott Hahn, “Signs of Life”).
Saint Padre Pio once described His ecstasy using these words…
“I find it absolutely impossible to explain the workings of love. Infinite love has finally conquered the hardness of my heart through its immense power, and I find myself annihilated and reduced to helplessness. He has been pouring himself completely into the small vessel of the creature I am. I am suffering an unspeakable martyrdom and feel myself incapable of carrying the weight of this immense love. Oh! Who will come to relieve me? How will I be able to carry the infinite in such a small heart? How will I ever be able to contain the infinite inside the small, narrow room of my soul?”
And I have been reflecting on this martyrdom and suffering of which the great saint spoke in the days and weeks since first reading those words.
You see, Saint Padre Pio clearly felt the very clear marks of God’s favour in his soul and this mark of favour was extraordinary and this caused him such suffering.
Saint Faustina wrote in her diary at entry 1556…
“…the Lord gave me to know that, among His chosen ones, there are some who are especially chosen, and whom He calls to a higher form of holiness, to exceptional union with Him. These are seraphic souls, from whom God demands greater love than He does from others... Such a soul understands this call, because God makes this known to it interiorly, but the soul may either follow this call or not. It depends on the soul itself whether it is faithful to these touches of the Holy Spirit, or whether it resists them... This indelible mark of God's exclusive love, in the [soul], will not be obliterated.”
Within that same diary entry, Saint Faustina explained that this favour of God remains on the soul eternally. In Heaven such souls are given greater glory. In Purgatory such souls suffer more in yearning for God whom they know better than other souls do. And in Hell the torment of such souls is greater because they understand more fully the God who they have rejected and who they have lost.
And I have been reflecting very much on the sign that God has chosen a soul…
For the sign is suffering. Love is suffering. Love is pain. Because "The Christian's motto is the Cross. You will recognise God's love by this sign, by the sufferings He sends you." (Saint Padre Pio).
Saint Rita of Cascia, who we call Saint Rita of Impossible Cases, actively requested suffering into her life. She prayed for the stigmata, which she received as a thorn from the Crown of Thorns when she said, “Let me, my Jesus, share in Your suffering, at least one of Your thorns.”
Scott Hahn in his book “Signs of Life” explains this choosing and suffering very eloquently, when he says, “We face crises to remind us that we’re pilgrims, still on the way. The Father uses these moments to change us, to speed us along the way, to transform pilgrims into saints.”
Or, as Saint Maximilian Kolby said, "Let us remember that love lives through sacrifice and is nourished by giving. Without sacrifice there is no love. "
And so, as I reflect on the words of Saint Padre Pio, who said, “The most beautiful act of faith is the one made in darkness, in sacrifice and with extreme effort.”
It occurs to me that I should come to see myself through God’s eyes – as a pilgrim – on the journey to sainthood…
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.