Updated: Dec 29, 2020
Grief can draw us to God as we try to be better and achieve salvation.
One of my dear and grieving friends told me today that though I pray for her sanctity, she did not feel like a saint, instead she felt sad. Very, very, very, sad.
I look to all those suffering souls for whom we pray, Nancy, Vita, Vanessa, the mother who grieves, the Holy Souls, the mother who had a stroke – all of us who suffer – for who among us bears no wound, even secretly in the depths of their soul? And I wonder about this sadness and suffering.
In listening to the words of a beautiful priest who prayed with us for my beautiful baby niece, I came to understand a little more, the suffering of the Holy Family, during their six or seven day journey to Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago.
Our heavily pregnant heavenly Mother and her new husband, Joseph – who were surely still reeling from the unexpected direction of their lives through the message of the Angel – were forced, through Roman bureaucratic injustice, to leave their home at a time not of their choosing.
This journey was difficult for many, many reasons.
There were the elements and the environment that they travelled through. There were wild animals, and bandits, and robbers. There was the cost of accommodation along the way – surely a serious consideration for a young family just about to welcome a child. There was the Mother’s discomfort – a very young girl in the final weeks of her pregnancy, who was forced to ride a donkey for over a week. There was her husband’s discomfort at being unable to better protect her from that discomfort.
On this journey to God – for it was to God, born as the Son in Bethlehem that they travelled (regardless of the bureaucratic reasons that God used for his purpose) – the Holy Family suffered.
This suffering reminds me, in a way, of the suffering that was to come at Calvary some thirty-three years later.
On the journey to Bethlehem, Our Lady and Saint Joseph were journeying to see God – born as Man.
On the journey to Calvary, Our God the Son was journeying through the Holy mystery of the Trinity, to become God in Heaven.
On the journey to Bethlehem, Our Lady and Saint Joseph, were forced to make a journey from their home in Nazareth, despite great danger and discomfort to them.
On the journey to Calvary, Our God, was forced to make a journey from the Garden of Gethsemane, through seven unjust trials, and His scourging and imprisonment, to the place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha.
On the journey to Bethlehem, Our Lady spoke to God. As He moved within her womb, she, like all mothers, surely spoke to him directly and eagerly, anticipating his arrival. She spoke to him intimately, because Our Blessed Mother, was God’s handmaid, and therefore, not only full of God spiritually, but also full of him physically – and He of her – for was she not His mother, who gave of her body to make His so that He could give of His body to SAVE US?
On the journey to Calvary, in the Garden of Gethsemane, and again on the Cross, Christ spoke to God. As He awaited his trial, during His passion and again on the Cross, Christ called out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” In the Garden, he called to his Father, intimately as “Daddy”, because, through the mystery of the Holy Trinity, is he not God Himself, and being God, can he not speak intimately to God?
Just as Our Lady’s “Yes” to God caused her to “conceive of the Holy Spirit”, Christ’s “Yes” to God caused Him to save our souls!
And terribly wonderful things happen when we accept God’s Holy Will in saying “Yes” to him.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola said, “If God causes you to suffer much, it is a sign that He has great designs for you, and that He certainly intends to make you a saint.”
I think of my grieving friends – perhaps of us all – and I wonder whether many saints feel sanctified while on the journey? Perhaps, they too feel sad? Perhaps that is why Saint Ignatius calls them, the “wood of the Cross” used to “kindle the fire of holy love.”?
Perhaps it is because Saint Ignatius, inspired by the Holy Spirit, could see that tears are quenched by fire, which dries all moisture from our eyes?
Perhaps, though we feel consumed by grief and sadness, this suffering is merely the feeling of waiting, which is most unnatural to us, because as we are created in Gods image, we are given life to serve God and be happy with him forever in Heaven?
Perhaps, the reality is that we suffer on Earth because we are sitting at God’s Holy feet, while watching the tapestry He is creating from underneath it? Here we sit, and wait for the day, when He will lift us up to eternal life, where we will be able to see His masterpiece from above it and understand the beauty that God has wrought from this tangle of tears.
Perhaps, it is okay to live a little sadness now – because if we can offer it to the Glory and Honour of God – perhaps He will be pleased by our Faith in him and, perhaps, in a very short time – through no merit of our own – we will share His Glory with him for all eternity.
All we need to do now, is wait…
For through prayer, everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.