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Suffering, Anyone? Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur Wk 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

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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 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

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