22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2023 – “Christ Suffered for you leaving you an example”
Saint Paul tells the Romans to “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice” and Jesus says to his followers in today’s Gospel “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”
I made a prayer in early 2019 that if there was anything I could suffer for the victims of Catholic clergy sexual abuse/assault etc., that I would willingly do that. A month later I had my first seizure from what I later learned was a brain tumor. And I knew as soon as the words came out of the doctor’s mouth, that this tumor had been an answer to that prayer I made.
And so, after receiving my diagnosis, I wrote up a blog post that night about how I had been diagnosed with a brain tumor, and that I was offering that suffering up for all the victims of Catholic Clergy Abuse, and that post went viral.
Since my first surgery was not for another month, that gave me the opportunity to communicate with about 170 victim survivors, and parents of victims, and parents of victims who had taken their life because of the abuse done to their children by Catholic clergy, and so I entered my first of 3 brain surgeries in March of 2020 with 170 names of victim survivors and victims who had committed suicide because of the abuse.
I told all of them that I don’t expect my offering up of my suffering them to suddenly help them return to the Catholic Church, but some of them reached out several years after and let me know that was the case for them.
Why do I mention all of this??? Because the Bible says, over and over again, and in our readings from St. Paul and Jesus in our Gospel today a teaching that I don’t hear coming from any other place besides the Catholic Church, and that is that our suffering has the power to change people’s lives and OUR life.
In all of this, I will say that the number one person who was helped through this offering up of my suffering for the victims...was me...my 3 year battle forced me to slow down and question things about myself that I had never stopped to question, and I recognized that a lot of times I was spreading gossip, slandering people not present and on and on.
Mother Angelica had this beautiful phrase “Never let a DROP of suffering go to waste”
My heart aches when I hear people say that they think their suffering is meaningless…that narrative is out there a lot in our world, but it is not true…our suffering has an infinite weight to it…just as Christ’s suffering won our salvation, so our suffering can, when offered up for other people, have dramatic effects in their lives, and in ours.
What does this look like practically?
It might look like “Lord, I offer this small inconvenience that I am experiencing at the grocery store up for other people”
or…lord I am offering the suffering I am experiencing from strife in my family up for that person causing the strife…
or lord, I offer up the suffering of this cancer and chemo up for other people…
Try it with big and small sufferings in your life…God always keeps His Word because He loves us…see if offering up your sufferings for yourself and others does in fact make you more peaceful and calm.
And we all know people who need to hear these things about our suffering not being meaningless but something that we can offer up for others, and we all know people who suffer because they are listening to the Devil tell them they are the worst sinner because they get distracted at prayer…invite those people to come learn more about Catholicism.
Inviting a person to come learn more about what the Catholic Church teaches also has the benefit of being something that, for most of us, we are MASSIVELY FEARFUL of doing…so offer that suffering up for that person who you are going to push through your fear and invite.
Classes start September 14th at 6:30pm at St. Martin’s campus hall
Let us all heed St. Paul’s command today and offer ourselves up as a sacrifice in both big and small ways…may we make that a constant habit in our lives moving forward!