As we hasten quickly toward Holy Week, it seems appropriate to consider the single largest topic in the Spiritual Diary – Suffering. What does suffering have to do with love? Everything! In this life, there are three things that are inseparable: Love, Freedom, and Suffering. For love to be perfect, it must be perfectly free, and the freedom of love is forged in the crucible of suffering. What do we mean by that?
The love that is necessary for Heaven, the love necessary to sustain an eternal existence, is God’s entirely selfless love and not our usually selfish human love. God does not love because of what we do or are. In fact, He loves us in spite of what we are and do! God’s love is not dependent on the object of His love; He loves simply because He is love. He never loves “because” – He just loves. His love is completely free – never dependent on what it receives in return. For our love to be perfect like His, it must also be perfectly free – never dependent on what it receives in return.
When we love and there is powerful reinforcement coming back – deep romance, that feeling of being complete, of being wanted by someone – well, maybe it is love but maybe it’s really selfishness; it’s too noisy to tell. But when we love in the face of suffering, when we love even when it hurts and nothing is coming back to us, then we know our love is free – by grace, we have become love. This is why the freedom of our love is forged in the crucible of suffering. I personally believe this is why a loving God created a world in which so much suffering can exist and why, frankly, the closer we grow to God, the more suffering we often experience – not less.
Jesus: “You suffer, do you not? Suffer for Me. This is My gift. You can only receive suffering like this from Me. Whether the suffering is spiritual or bodily, accept it from pure love for Me. You know what I told you: We must go up to Calvary. May our feet journey together.”The Spiritual Diary (first edition); Elizabeth Kindelmann; p. 87
Do we really mean that when we pray it in the Unity Prayer? In his homily at the beatification of Saint “Padre” Pio, Pope Saint John Paul II described Padre Pio’s sense that “Calvary is the hill of the saints.”
Mary: “To receive great graces, your soul must be prepared by greater sufferings. This is the only way to increase grace in your soul.”ibid.; p. 38
Jesus: “My little one, did I send you many sufferings in these past few days? I implore you, do not grow weary of these great pains. . . Let us suffer together. I suffer united to you and you to Me. I love you very much and I will not leave you without sufferings. Embrace suffering. Love only Me, serve Me with fidelity, and do not be surprised that I always manifest My love through sufferings.
The excessive love of My Heart makes Me consider you worthy of sufferings. This is the only way you can save many souls. . . To save families, throw yourself into the furnace of suffering. . . Do not lose the least opportunity. May our thoughts be in unison. Consider clearly the value of your sufferings. The number of those reaping with Me is so small. Do you know why? Because there are no souls willing to bear sufferings, especially those who would do it steadily. Without it, they cannot merit that I shower My graces on them continuously.”
Does this seem strange? The greatest gift Jesus can give to us is Himself – by the power of grace, the effect of grace, to be Him in the world. This means to live as He lives, love as He loves, and do as He does. This means being willing to mount the cross for the salvation of others. Until we are willing to love with the love that embraces the voluntary poverty of Jesus’ Incarnation and the love that embraces the voluntary suffering of His Passion, we cannot love with the love of Heaven. By inviting us into His suffering, Jesus is inviting us into His Love and His Life. Love like this cannot be learned by knowledge in our heads; it is only learned by experience in our bodies.
This is the great gift of suffering and perhaps the greatest spiritual challenge of the Flame of Love. This is why the Flame of Love is an accelerated course in holiness and the full power of grace. It invites us into the love of the Cross.
“And He [Jesus] was saying to them all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.’” Luke 9:23 NASB
Talk is cheap. Are we willing to love with our lives? Are we willing to love with the redemptive love of Jesus? Are we willing to embrace our sufferings in love for others because God has ordained that our suffering may be freely offered by us for their salvation? Here’s the acid test: if God gave you a choice between saving a soul by embracing your greatest suffering or being released from it, which would you choose? Which did Jesus choose?
He is giving you that choice today. Listen to the voice of Jesus within you – the effect of grace of The Flame of Love.
p71: Mary: “My Divine Son unites your humiliations to His sufferings, which are of eternal value. And now, prepare your soul and body for still greater sufferings, in whatever way and measure they come upon you. Do not retreat, be humble, patient and persevering.”
p266: Jesus: “God smiles upon you. You see, with My divine smile, you can easily endure the great and violent sufferings. The souls in purgatory need your sufferings so much because you now share in the work of the Church Suffering. Suffer with a smile! Let no one know, let no one see, this is a secret between the two of us. Only God grants this and I give it only to the souls who know how to endure ceaseless sufferings with a smile.”
p123: Jesus: “Your great and violent sufferings have exhausted you. Why are you surprised? Did I not prepare you for this? Beforehand, I gave you great graces. These gave you strength for the great sufferings, and now, because you have endured these great sufferings, I can fill you with a greater abundance of grace. Each time, I multiply and intensify these great sufferings in your soul. Then I strengthen you with the grace of perfect abandonment so we both have success. The rage of Satan is savage. I permit him to be unchained against you so he can see how great is the power of My grace in a soul that is abandoned to Me.”
p131: Jesus: “Although I will intensify and increase your sufferings, I will also add a grace to strengthen you and give you courage. I see that you make good use of the grace of abandonment. Try never to lose this wonderful grace which completely dominates your soul. Make every effort to use it in all that follows. Satan knows it very well, and he wholeheartedly wants to divest you of this grace. It is I who permitted this for him to see what surrendering to Me can produce in the soul.”
p179: Jesus: “To you! What will I not grant to you! As you have asked, I will increase My graces. Through your sufferings, you have widened your soul. Now, everything I want to give you fits in your soul. Each sacrifice is a new bank deposit in Heaven that you will bring with you. Through Me, the multitude of souls will receive its interest after your death.”
p83: Jesus: “I teach you so you learn and teach others how to gather souls. The will of the soul is love, and love can do everything. You must just desire with all your strength. May our thoughts be always in unison – to save souls from eternal damnation. Only in this way can you lessen My cruel sorrow. Let that not be boring to you. I have repeated it to you over and over: Suffer with Me.”
p159: Jesus: “Suffer with courage, perseverance and a sincere abandonment. Don’t ponder if the suffering is large or small. All that you can still do for Me on earth is meritorious. Time is short, little sister, and never returns. What you do not accept at a given moment will never again become available to you because I think that you would not receive it willingly. On everything you do place the mark of your love and the seal of your decision. Do everything with a selfless love. In this way, you will joyfully share in My work of Salvation.
Every small drop of suffering accepted from sacrifice and love delights the Most Holy Trinity. In the company of the Trinity, you will enjoy it. This will be your reward which is not from this world.”
p280: Jesus: “Each tear drop that the suffering draws from your eyes will fall upon the souls of sinners and bring forth their tears of repentance.”
p215: Jesus: “Only through sorrows and sufferings does My Holy Cause make progress.”
p164: Jesus: “I told you that whoever knows something about the Flame of Love of our Mother can only deserve being worthy of serving our Cause through sufferings and humiliations.”
p208: Jesus: “I have you partake in My suffering of Soul and Body just as I had to as a Man. I did not use the power of My Divinity, it was only as a Man that I lived the horrors of the night of Gethsemane. I honor you with the extraordinary pains in My Body and Soul. In truth, this suffering means that you participate more deeply in My work of Redemption.”
p135: Jesus: “My little one, never leave Me without your sufferings.”
For several days, He repeated this many times. His words gave birth to a very passionate desire in my soul. I longed so much to suffer. Right before Communion, He unexpectedly said:
Jesus: “Beginning today, I will allow continuous suffering in your soul, which will go beyond all that you have suffered until now.”
Great happiness filled my soul. Finally, His desire will be fulfilled. He had already asked if He could place me in the furnace of sufferings. Now, by His grace, I will be able to do this. “Now that you have arranged for continual sufferings in my soul, after many obstacles and in spite of them, I have finally come to You. Now, finally, I thirst being close to You…”
Flame of Love Basics Series: Embracing Suffering – Part 1
Flame of Love Basics Series: Embracing Suffering – Part 2
Flame of Love Basics Series: Embracing Suffering – Part 3
Flame of Love Basics Series: Embracing Suffering – Part 4
Flame of Love Basics Series: Embracing Suffering – Part 5