Some of us, who are of an age, or had moms or grandma's who were Catholic are familiar with the idea of offering up one's suffering for the poor souls in purgatory, or for someone here on earth who really needs prayers. Every time we had to go through something unpleasant as a child my mom would remind us that we could be like Jesus and offer our suffering for others.
I have heard some ex-Catholics say that this was one teaching that pushed them from the Church. I find this very absurd because this was one teaching that gave meaning to my suffering, and made me stronger and more prayerful as I was growing up.
If Jesus, who was completely innocent could suffer great indignities and even death for others who were deserving of suffering, and I can offer my suffering for others, then my suffering has meaning. My prayer is stronger, and I become stronger in the process.
You might wonder what led me to write about this specific topic today. Well, I have had a migraine of epic proportions for the past three days, and today it is really bad. I have also been working very hard at work and trying to keep up with the home situation (laundry, etc) and there just isn't time for me to crawl into bed in a dark room until I feel better. So, I have been offering up my suffering as I soldier on and get done what needs to be done.
I would hate to consider trying to live with this pain if I didn't have the belief that it had meaning. And I know so many people who are deserving of my prayers and support:
A young man who is dealing with a relapse of leukemia, and is finally out of the hospital but went home this time with a portable oxygen tank. Please Lord, ease his suffering and give him peace.
A woman (the mother of the young man above) who is dealing with cancer herself. Give her strength as well.
A priest I know who is having surgery today for colon cancer. He has brought me so much happiness and peace; grant the same to him.
A priest I know who is on medical leave trying to regain his strength so that he can continue his ministry in the midst of battling Crohn's disease. Help him to heal quickly, so that he can move on to another phase of his ministry.
A woman (my mother) who is living with Alzheimer's disease. Give her moments of peace in her lucid times and moments of grace when peace is impossible. Keep her safe and allow her to feel loved and cared for.
A dear colleague who is suffering from leukemia, help him to B+.
A friend who is suffering from a pinched nerve in the back. I know what that feels like. Ease her discomfort.
Heavenly Father, I offer any pain and inconvenience I feel this week for these people who are more in need of it than I. Grant them peace and healing. I promise not to whine too much, I know you are with me, be with them as well.
Pax and Amen