Reflection – Silence and Suffering

January 2, 2019 – “…But my motherly heart knows that there are still those who believe and love, who are seeking how to draw all the closer to my Son, who are tirelessly seeking my Son – then, in this way, they are also seeking me. These are the humble and the meek with their pain and suffering which they carry in silence with their hopes and, above all, with their faith. These are the apostles of my love…”

These are the humble and the meek with their pain and suffering which they carry in silence with their hopes and, above all, with their faith…

This sentence has stuck out to me for a while now since first reading this message. Especially the words “suffering” and “silence.” Now, I know Lent is still about two months away (where the Church more deeply contemplates this), and I don’t want to sound like a Debbie Downer here. But suffering is a very real reality for all people everywhere, regardless of who you are and where you come from. It is inevitable, and a part life.

We’ve all got our crosses to bear; scars, baggage, weaknesses, fears, struggles, and flaws. And the only way we’re able to endure and overcome our pains in humble silence is in seeking and trusting Jesus. He consoles and strengthens us, giving us the grace we need to go on.

So, in our personal lives, we suffer in silence, relying on the Lord to sustain us as we pray with humility and patience. But another way that I believe we also suffer in silence is perhaps when we witness evil and turmoil happening around us. All we have to do is turn on the news, and it wouldn’t take very long before finding something truly heartbreaking and disturbing. What’s more, some of us may have even witnessed such things among family, friends, neighbors, in the workplace or in parishes.

Either way, suffering is difficult for us humans, especially due to our broken nature passed down to us from the Fall of Man at Eden. But we are not alone in our sufferings.

Jesus suffered in silence when He faced ridicule and rejection during His ministry; in His agony in the Garden, and in His Crucifixion and death on the Cross. The Blessed Mother also suffered in silence as she and St. Joseph protected Jesus from the hands of Herod, and as she watched her Son be scorned and put to death like a criminal. No one else knows our sufferings better than Jesus and Mary, because they, too, suffered much during their time on earth.

On September 2, 2017, Our Lady said:

“Dear children, who could speak to you about the love and the pain of my Son better than I? I lived with Him; I suffered with Him. Living the earthly life I felt pain because I was a mother. My Son loved the thoughts and the works of the Heavenly Father, the true God. And, as He said to me, He came to redeem you. I hid my pain through love, but you, my children, you have numerous questions. You do not comprehend pain. You do not comprehend that through the love of God you need to accept pain and endure it. Every human being will experience it to a lesser or greater measure. But with peace in the soul and in a state of grace, hope exists; this is my Son, God, born of God. His words are the seed of eternal life. Sown in good souls they bring numerous fruits. My Son bore the pain because He took your sins upon Himself. Therefore, you, my children, apostles of my love, you who suffer, know that your pain will become light and glory. My children, while you are enduring pain, while you are suffering, Heaven enters in you and you give a piece of Heaven and much hope to all those around you. Thank you.”

And on February 2, 2016, she also said:

“Dear children, I have called you and am calling you anew to come to know my Son, to come to know the truth. I am with you and am praying for you to succeed. My children, you must pray much in order to have all the more love and patience; to know how to endure sacrifice and to be poor in spirit. Through the Holy Spirit, my Son is always with you. His Church is born in every heart that comes to know Him. Pray that you can come to know my Son; pray that your soul may be one with Him. That is the prayer and the love which draws others and makes you my apostles. I am looking at you with love, with a motherly love. I know you; I know your pain and sorrows, because I also suffered in silence. My faith gave me love and hope. I repeat, the Resurrection of my Son and my Assumption into Heaven is hope and love for you. Therefore, my children, pray to come to know the truth; to have firm faith which will lead your heart and which will transform your pain and sufferings into love and hope. Thank you.

In a book written extensively on silence, Cardinal Robert Sarah talks about suffering in silence with faith and prayer, just as Jesus and Mary did. Here’s what he wrote:

How did Christ confront evil? How did Mary respond to evil? How did the Mother of God react when she saw the disfigured face of her Son on the Cross?

The Virgin has no strength left in the face of such an outburst of hatred and violence. She is exhausted, overwhelmed, broken. Nevertheless, Mary possesses a great interior strength, and she remains standing and silent. She takes refuge in prayer, self-offering, and serene acceptance of God’s mysterious will, in communion with her Son. The Mother of God loves a God who makes no noise and burns up human violence in the fire of his merciful love. At that moment she hears her Son beg God: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34). The union of her silence with the prayers of heaven enables her to remain standing at the foot of the Cross. Mary does not rebel, she does not shout. She accepts suffering thanks to her prayer. Did not Jesus himself prepare to endure his Passion by a night of prayer in the garden of Gethsemane and by many other nights, alone on the mountain or away in a deserted place?

Christ alone can give man the strength to confront evil and come to terms with it. He offers himself as the only power capable of helping mankind to conquer suffering. “Apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5). By strength of his Cross, he has the power to save mankind. The most beautiful cry possible is an outburst of love for God. Suffering is often the expression of an immense love. It is redemptive. Suffering and sorrow show that we are alive, guiding the physician more precisely in his diagnosis. It is necessary to accept suffering and to cope with it in silence. There is no injustice in the world that does not find a prayerful response in God.

(Cardinal Robert Sarah, The Power of Silence Against the Dictatorship of Noise, p. 149)

When suffering pervades our lives, and we feel like the burden is becoming too much to take, we must look to Christ Crucified upon the Cross, and Mary standing at the foot of it. We must work to respond to our sufferings with prayer, faith, love, and humility; even when it’s difficult, we must try. Another good example of someone who often reacted to her sufferings with love and faith is St. Teresa of Calcutta. St. Teresa credited God’s love and prayer being the source of strength that helped her to love others even in the most difficult times. We also are in need of God’s love to help us see a brother/sister in others. In prayer and seeking God, we will be given the graces to endure, overcome, and maintain hope and faith; for everything in this life is passing, but God and His promises never change. Let us rest in Him!