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Walking Together in Suffering

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30 Days with Teresa of Avila (Week 6 of 6)

…He is a most faithful friend. Let us feel confident that He has considered what is best for souls — all else matters little in comparison. Eternal weal or woe is what signifies; so I beg of you, for love of our Lord, not to brood over your reasons for sorrow but to think about what is consoling.

Day 28, St. Teresa's letter, paragraph 3

How do we help our friends when they are crushed by the sorrows the Lord permits them to suffer? It is a matter of being a good neighbor who will have the courage to stand with those we love before the inscrutable secrets of divine judgment.

Day 28, reflection, paragraph 1

Walking Together in Suffering

I finished this book weeks ago. In fact, I read it in just a few sessions. So there was really no excuse for me to not have my post finished in plenty of time.

And yet I still failed. As I write this, I've missed my deadline by a lot. Two whole days. (Apologies for the late post, everyone..but I can't help but feel like maybe I can use this as fodder for my reflection…)

That's forced me to go back and reread sections to prepare for this writing, and that's been good. I've also dipped back into it for other reasons.

Again and again, I find that God is really using St. Teresa's words to touch me, to reach me where I am, whether I'm a flustered, chaotic, mentally unstable mess or a calm, focused, task-oriented force. (I'm exaggerating, yes. But only slightly.)

It seems there is no shortage of trials, whether it's exploding diapers or exploding emails. Whether it's drama I have to juggle or tasks I have to prioritize, the wrenches that can so easily turn me into a frazzle seem to be just waiting.

Do I read this as God sending me trials? So this is all on purpose?

What caught my eye in this is the need to rely on God's mercy.

And in that mercy, he has surrounded me with friends. Some of those friends and family members are people who are covering me with prayer and support. Others are people who I'm walking with spiritually, remembering them as I go about my day, trying to offer my silly little hurdles for what I know are gigantic battles for them.

St. Teresa has helped me understand why I have such a soft spot for certain intentions, and she's also helped me to appreciate that. Somehow, I seem to get connected to those people who need my prayers to help them through a challenge I really identify with. In the moment, I always bemoan that all I can offer is my prayers. And yet, looking back, I can see how the effort I put forth, however small it seemed, was as much a blessing to me as to the person who needed it. I can't help but think, maybe I was the person who needed it, not the person for whom I was praying!

I hate watching people I love suffer. I hate it as a mother, I hate it as a friend, I hate it as a child. It pains me even when I'm hearing about a stranger, especially if they've just suffered miscarriage or lost a spouse. I find myself adding names of strangers to my prayer lists because I hear they long for children.

And it is this, I think, that God is trying to get me to understand through St. Teresa. This is what loving one another looks like in practice (at least in part).

Reading Assignment:

Join us May 26, 2015 as we begin our journey through The Confessions of Saint Augustine.

Discussion Questions:

1. How have you walked with your friends as they've suffered? How have others walked with you?

2. Who can you offer your suffering and trials for in a special way today?

Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!

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About Sarah Reinhard

Sarah Reinhard continues to delight ”and be challenged by” her vocations of Catholic wife and mother. She's online at and is the author of a number of books for families.

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  • Camila

    “Choosing to find something truly consoling in the midst of great hardship is a fundamental disposition of contemplative prayer. (127)”

    This was an answer to my prayers, when I read it. It gives us the principles upon which to find refreshment when we are amidst suffering.

    1) We must deliberately “choose” to think differently.
    When we’re amidst great suffering it is easy to fall prey to imagining we can’t exercise our deliberate ability to choose what we think about. The suffering, whether physical or emotional, does not limit our capacity to think freely. There is no better place to practice this freedom then when in sorrow, and thus hold “captive” every thought.

    2) Our chosen thoughts must be something “truly consoling.”
    Once our thoughts are harnessed, it is time to focus on something truly consoling. How many are the saints that found consolation on thinking about the crucifix, or the agony in the garden, or our Lady’s sorrows, and so many more. We never suffer alone. The saints (all of them) have suffered before us. To unite ourselves to this great body of suffers for love, is to tap into a source of great psychological consolation.

  • Cara

    I can usually maintain faith and find consolation when the suffering, although intense (like a car accident) is temporary because I know that I will survive and be able to move on. But when the suffering is intense and only gets worse with time (like terminal cancer or the death of a child), I don’t understand how to go on without despair.

  • Joan

    My sister has just lost her beloved husband to cancer and I have lost a much loved brother in law whom I have known since I was twelve, so more like a brother I guess. When they found out a month ago that treatment was not working my sister says she decided in her heart to ‘offer it up’, all the pain, the despair at the realisation she was losing him. It was just one of those moments when there’s nothing else she could do but hand it over to God. Then just as he was being admitted in to hospital that same afternoon he told her that he wanted to become a catholic! This was quite a shock but he was determined and had been thinking of it for some time apparently. So on 21st May he was baptised, confirmed and had his first Holy Communion at home where he passed away four days later. On Thursday 4th June he is being received in to church prior to his requiem mass on Friday and though my sister and all of us are heartbroken at his passing she says she feels that God has given her a gift she never expected and she has gained much strength through this. The morning after his becoming a catholic his first words to her were, “Wow” I’m a catholic! When she asked him how that felt he replied, “I feel light and I’ve got eternal life”.

    • LizEst

      What a beautiful story! Thanks for sharing that Joan. God bless your sister and grant eternal life to your brother-in-law.

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