The following is a powerful passage in the Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena. In this great spiritual classic, which made St. Catherine of Siena a Doctor of the Church, she records her mystical conversations with Jesus. St. Catherine of Siena died at the age of 33 after suffering a demonic spiritual assault, willingly giving her life for the sanctification of the Church.
Though often associated with healing, St. Bernadette has an important lesson to teach us about suffering. She endured sickness throughout her life. As a child she suffered from severe asthma and was weak and sickly. Added to that was the pain that being a visionary caused her—the jealousy, suspicion, and rejection of others. Throughout much of her time living with the Sisters of Nevers she struggled with a very painful tubercular tumor in the bone of her right knee.
One of the more meaningful and fulfilling parts of Catholic doctrine, that is not as well-developed in other Christian denominations, is the incredible value of suffering; “offer it up” habitually rolls off the Catholic tongue in response to the troubles that enter our lives. Unfortunately, many Christians believe that Jesus suffered and died for us so that we will not have to suffer at all. But that is only partially true.
My reflections from last week inspired by the Gospel readings, homilies, and September 11th, 2011. Can anyone believe that it has been ten years since the 9/11 attacks? For me it still feels like only a short time ago.