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Suffering, Anyone? The Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur Week 8

September 17, 2013 by  
Filed under Book Club, Vicki Burbach

The Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur (Week 8 of 12)

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Lord, be Thou blessed for my present suffering, because I dare to hope that it is the gentle answer of Thy Heart. I offer it all to Thee, all of it: sufferings of body, heart, and soul, all my privations, my interior desolation, my great spiritual solitude. Use these humble offerings for the intentions and substitutions Thou knowest, for souls, and for the Church. Accept a tithe of it in expiation of my sins and for the work of reparation that Thou does entrust to souls that are dearest to Thee.

It is not pride, is it Lord, thus to call myself Thy friend, the one Thou hast called, Thy chosen friend? Because everywhere in my life I see the traces of Thy love, everywhere the divine call, everywhere the supernatural vocation. Thou hast made use of trials, suffering, and illness to take me entirely to Thyself and to sanctify me, first drawing me to Thee solely by Thine action within me. Thou hast done all. – The Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur, p. 137-138 (The Journal: 1911-1914, July 16, 1913)

What will I do when When I finish this diary, this witness of perfect love transcribed and shared for my edification? Will I simply close this book and move on to the next?

Will I return to a world that is grounded in “ME?” A world in which the word SUFFERING and its joyful cousin SACRIFICE have been reduced to profanity?

A world where abortion, birth control, euthanasia, divorce, drugs and other evils run rampant because we don’t want to “suffer”? Where debt and weight are at an all-time high because we don’t want to “sacrifice?”

Or…will I change my life?

For the saints, love is not merely a pretty little four letter word surrounded by hearts and flowers and wrapped in a red bow. For the saints, love equals sacrifice. And perfect love is sacrifice offered joyfully.

See for yourself…

“If God gives you an abundant harvest of trials, it is a sign of great holiness which He desires you to attain. Do you want to become a great saint? Ask God to send you many sufferings. The flame of Divine Love never rises higher than when fed with the wood of the Cross, which the infinite charity of the Savior used to finish His sacrifice. All the pleasures of the world are nothing compared with the sweetness found in the gall and vinegar offered to Jesus Christ. That is, hard and painful things endured for Jesus Christ and with Jesus Christ.”Saint Ignatius of Loyola

“The road is narrow. He who wishes to travel it more easily must cast off all things and use the cross as his cane. In other words, he must be truly resolved to suffer willingly for the love of God in all things.” St. John of the Cross

“One day, I saw two roads. One was broad, covered with sand and flowers, full of joy, music and all sorts of pleasures. People walked along it, dancing and enjoying themselves. They reached the end of the road without realizing it. And at the end of the road there was a horrible precipice; that is, the abyss of hell. The souls fell blindly into it; as they walked, so they fell. And there numbers were so great that it was impossible to count them. And I saw the other road, or rather, a path, for it was narrow and strewn with thorns and rocks; and the people who walked along it had tears in their eyes, and all kinds of suffering befell them. Some fell down upon the rocks, but stood up immediately and went on. At the end of the road there was a magnificent garden filled with all sorts of happiness, and all these souls entered there. At the very first instant they forgot all their sufferings.” — “Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul” Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, #153

So how did suffering go from being so highly exalted to becoming a dirty word?

Somewhere along the line, we developed a paradigm that suffering serves no purpose. If suffering is useless, then to endure pain and inconvenience when they could be alleviated is ludicrous.

But the fact is, suffering can serve a purpose. We can offer our pain in joyful oblation, as does Elisabeth. She follows the example of Saint Paul, who tells us, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body, that is, the Church…” (Colossians 1:24).

Paul knows that God is offering each of us the opportunity to unite ourselves with Christ on the Cross. He loves us so much that He actually allows us to share in the greatest demonstration of Love ever witnessed on earth. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The only perfect sacrifice is the one that Christ offered on the cross as a total offering to the Father’s love and for our salvation. By uniting ourselves with his sacrifice we can make our lives a sacrifice to God (CCC 2100). And by uniting ourselves more closely with Christ’s Passion, “suffering, a consequence of original sin, acquires a new meaning; it becomes a participation in the saving work of Jesus” (CCC 1521).

In Elisabeth’s journal, we are privileged to witness firsthand the kind of love demonstrated and promulgated by the saints. Elisabeth clearly travelled the narrow road. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7), and she joyfully gave all.

Can I do the same?

Can I change my life?

I'd love to – but how do keep from getting caught in the “muck” of a world grounded in “ME”?  A world that would encourage me to avoid suffering at all cost?

Mother Mary of Loyola has tells the story of a boy named Urban who, upon recognizing all that Christ had done for him, was appalled by how little he’d ever done to show his love in return. He wanted to love Christ properly, but didn’t know how. Thankfully, the child did not lose heart, and over time he came to love our Lord with great devotion.

When asked about the change that had come over him, Urban shared, “‘I tell Him…that as He has loved me so much and done so much for me, He might as well do a little more and make me love Him back’” (First Communion, p. 26).  Like Elisabeth, Urban knew that his ability to offer all his love, deeds and sacrifices was found  “…only through the Heart of Jesus…by the gift of His tenderness and holiness” (Secret Diary, p. 135).

Jesus, Please make me love You back…

 

Reading Assignment:

Week 8: Daily Thoughts (1899-1906) (p. 147-187)

 

Discussion Questions:

1. Please share your experiences – whether they be struggles, resignation or joyful oblation – regarding sacrifice or suffering. Also, please share any quotes that have inspired you on the subject.

2. Feel free to comment on anything from this past week!

 

Read more: Previous Book Club Posts

For More Information on the Book Club: http://spiritualdirection.com/csd-book-club

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About Vicki Burbach

Vicki Burbach is a wife and homeschooling mother of six children ages four to sixteen years who relishes the calm inspiration of spiritual reading amidst the roller coaster of life. A passionate convert to the Faith, Vicki is an avid reader who started the SpiritualDirection.com book club so she could embark with like-minded bibliophiles on a spiritual journey through some of the greatest Catholic books ever written. She is author of the new book How to Read Your Way to Heaven - A Spiritual Reading Program for the Worst of Sinners, the Greatest of Saints, and Everyone in Between. You can also find her at pelicansbreast.com

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  • Jeanette

    My daily prayer to God is that he would purify me with as much suffering as is needed now on this earth, rather than later in purgatory. And I offer all my sufferings, inconveniences in life, sacrifices etc. for the conversion of sinners, especially those who will die today and have no one to pray for them and also for the holy souls in purgatory that they may be with God this day. Asking for suffering is not an easy thing to do (and it took me quite a while to get to that point), but we cannot escape suffering as it is in the Divine Plan so why not make holy use of it for ourselves and others.

    • Camila

      What you say here is absolutely sublime.

  • 2001Sacrament

    I have friends who love Jesus and bear tremendous burdens with great joy – I complain about and am easily confused by the tiny burdens I feel interiorly; they are insignificant, invisible, compared to what I see in the lives of those around me. I used to pray that Jesus would teach me to want to suffer for Him but I do not do it well, ever. I feel I cannot be his friend, I am invisible to Him, I have nothing to offer Him and all that I do is useless for Him – I am tempted to believe God does not exist; these are my burdens and they feel like so much but looking around, my life is filled with blessings. Sometimes all I can do is say to Him, I know You are real, I will not abandon You. I feel separated from the love I have for Him and from the love He has for me – perhaps putting one foot in front of the other is a gift? I love to read the writings of the Saints – their thoughts remind me of my own and their actions inspire me to keep trying to be more like them, however far behind them I will always be. Thank you for this reflection on Elisabeth Leseur – her passionate words of devotion warm my heart.

    • Patricia Owens

      HI MY DEAR…ORDER THE BOOK, HE AND I BY GABRIELLE BOSSIS!! YOU CAN OBTAIN IT AT: ARCHANGELBOOKS.COM
      IT IS LIKE NOTHING YOU HAVE EVER READ! IT WILL GIVE YOU ABSOLUTE PEACE AS HE SPEAKS TO YOUR HEART WITH WHAT HE SPOKE TO HER HEART! WOW. I WISH THE WHOLE WORLD COULD READ THIS BOOK….IT IS APPROVED AS WELL. WRITTEN FROM LISTENING TO OUR JESUS FRM 1936 TO 1950. A GEM FOR SURE! LOVE AND PRAYERS..HANG IN THERE. YOU KNOW..WHAT YOU ARE SUFFERING NOW AS YOU RELATED IS LIKE BEING ON THE CROSS. MANY SAINTS FELT AS YOU FELT, BUT CARRIED ON IN FAITH ANYWAY..IT IS ONE OF THE HARDEST (!) SUFFERINGS TO BEAR AND OFFER TO GOD…FOR SOULS TO CONVERT..THAT THEY HAVE CONTRITION. THAT THEY ARE NOT LOST! GOD BLESS YOU AND ALL DEAR TO YOUR HEART… PATRICIA OWENS -USA

      • 2001Sacrament

        You know, I actually have that book – read it a number of years ago and now perhaps I’ll read again. Thank you for your encouragement and may God bless you too.

        • Cassandra

          In case you’re still listening, I would add: Don’t refrain from asking for consolation and a lifting of the internal burden. Especially when in that state of loneliness, isolation, feeling distant from God and suffering that distance–one can get caught up in the mindset that one must do something, by one’s own power or resourcefulness, to change things and make things better. But, no! It is then, when we are weak (as Saint Paul says, “When I am weak, then I am strong”) that we have an opportunity to rely wholly and completely on God’s grace and power working in us. So, when feeling frustrated and ashamed at one’s own pathetic emptiness and uselessness–that is the moment to go straight to the Christ that you “will not abandon”–and beg him not to abandon you. Beg him to lift you, and give you some consolation and joy…so that you might use it to better serve him.
          Don’t be afraid to want to feel happy and competent, not so much for your own sake, maybe, as for the sake of being a better witness to God’s truth. And if you do want it, on some level, then don’t hold back from admitting that you want it, in secret conversation with your beloved Christ. Then, if he wills it, he will lift you–and you won’t have any false sense of its being something you achieved by your own cleverness.
          Don’t feel alone. You are not alone. That’s the Devil’s lie.
          God bless you.

    • Jeanette

      I agree with what Patricia said about “He and I” being a book like you have never read before. It’s one of my favourite books. Here you will find a love letter from Jesus. I was just thinking about this book today and how it has influenced me spiritually in a wonderful way. On every page of this book, you will be touched by the tenderness of Jesus and you will fall in love with Him all over again. God bless you!

  • DianeVa

    Yesterday after daily Mass I was sharing with a woman who is enduring many sufferings in her family and we spoke of this as “God’s love and blessings being showered upon her”. To understand suffering as blessing is indeed foolishness in today’s world. I look at me “little sufferings” and pray I can offer them, as little as they are, for some benefit to the Kingdom. I pray to embrace the bigger sufferings when they come for my continuous sanctification and of the worlds.

  • At a dinner my friends and I had recently, one of my friends was recounting to us a very difficult day she had. My other friend told us that we should look at suffering as riches, as the money for buying souls for Christ. At that thought, my suffering friend realized that she had prayed to God that her atheist friends would come to know His Love. And her suffering that day, had indeed been the currency, riches that brought souls closer to Jesus.

    • Becky Ward

      Awesome!!

  • LizEst

    Suffering is joy when doing the will of God!

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