Friday, November 16, 2012

Small Crosses Are Still Crosses

Have you ever beat yourself up because you have had a bad day, but it doesn't even begin to compare to someone else's bad day?  How about an example? 

Your Bad Day Scenarios:   You woke up late.  One of the kids had a stomach bug.  You stubbed your toe.  You forgot where you parked.  Someone said something mean to you.  You couldn't get anything done.  An important file was deleted from your computer, etc...

Someone else's Worse, Bad day Scenarios:  They threw up from latest round of chemo.  They can't stop crying because they lost someone they loved.  They are paralyzed and waited for someone to get them out of bed, but they didn't come.   They spent the day in the Surgery or ICU waiting room, etc...

If you're like me, you have felt ashamed for being in the first group, especially if you knew of someone in the second group.

However, as hard as I've tried to imagine being in the shoes of those who are suffering in big ways, I cannot stay there;  Not because I don't want to, but because my real life pulls me out.  I still have people who need me (and they let me know by saying my name a lot!), things I have to do, and all of the emotions that come with that.  I have come to the conclusion that you cannot live in someone else's reality (for very long).

Even though we can't stay long, we should enter another's reality as often as possible; especially, if they are suffering in more obvious ways than we are.  We need to love and encourage them.  We also bring their perspective back into our own lives, and gain tremendous gratitude for things we've previously taken for granted.

In the Apostolate for Holy Motherhood, the Christ Child says:  Rejoice in your trials; they are setting you free from the bonds of slavery to sin...All sin must be purified from the soul before a soul can stand before the throne of God in Heaven...Do not fight the cross, rather accept it as the glory it truly is...Fear nothing that unites you to Me, such as your trials and crosses, rather fear only what which separates you from Me, such as pleasures and indulgences of the flesh.  Pray for strength and courage to carry your crosses, not to have them taken away when they are your means of purification or sanctification.  Although the mercy of God indeed includes the cures of many afflictions, it is only in those cases where I deem it as unnecessary for their salvation to carry that particular cross.  If a cross or trial is of great spiritual value, I will not remove it, and you should never wish that it were, for it may be the means of salvation of many, not only the individual soul.

Small crosses are still crosses.  It is important that we acknowledge the little sufferings in our lives, and not discredit them because of their size.  For most of us, carrying these little crosses with faith and love is our path to holiness.  For me, my crosses vary from chasing elusive quiet time, trying to meet the needs of those whose needs only seem to increase with every help given, not being appreciated, being treated with disrespect, moments of insecurity, having to discipline my boys when I'm angry (because I do not do this well), and enduring anything that adds disorder to my life.

I felt tremendous freedom when I realized that interrupted quiet/prayer time and the other things listed were suffering for me.  Small suffering?  Yes, comparatively speaking, but still suffering.  If we can allow ourselves to call our interruptions, disappointments, and delays "suffering", we will be much more likely to use them for good.  If you don't know how, I'm sure it would please Elizabeth Leseur if you used her prayers below:

To give my sufferings and prayers a supernatural intention.

Make of all my trials a work of expiation, reparation, and prayer; help me to practice complete renunciation and to preserve peace of heart.

Purify and transform me by this trial!  Perfect thy humble instrument!  Give me the only grace I desire:  to be Thine apostle with those who are dear to me, with the souls that Thou hast placed in my path, and other souls, too, distant and unknown, for whom my prayers and suffering will obtain from Thee salvation.

Dear God, It is hard even to write it, but thank you for my trials.  They are small in comparison to many, but they are mine.  Show me how to use my trials for good, for eternity.  You give each of us exactly what we need to reach Heaven.  Help us not to minimize our own suffering, lest we overlook it as being useless.  Help us alleviate the suffering of others, according to Your will.  Lord, please give us the strength and courage to carry our crosses, whatever they may be, and open our eyes to the truth that what you've assigned to us, is what is best for our souls.  Please take away our desire to be freed from all crosses at any expense.  Open our hearts and teach us how to be graceful, while uncomfortable under the weight of the cross.  Amen.

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