Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Victim Love: If a man serves Me, he must follow Me

Someone I know about was asked in a kind of spiritual way to suffer for another soul. This victim soul had been in-training for several years, but this was a new kind of assignment. The trainee agreed but didn't know what to expect. One never does, really. The suffering became emotionally painful and doubts arose, but the victim soul kept at it with prayers and willingness to consciously offer suffering and "hang in there." The sufferings seemed to be getting no results, yet the assignment remained day and night an increasingly heavy cross.

Finally the person on assignment for the other soul tried to flee, but there was no place to run. Even though in some aspects wanting to quit, the victim soul refused to abandon the assignment because Jesus nurtured the victim soul by graces of the Sacraments, circumstance, Scripture, and human support to continue, to not give up. Yet, just at the seeming breaking point, the victim soul in a kind of anguish offered its life in exchange for the soul of the other. I don't even think the victim soul knew what was at stake, but it was a move of desperation--and obviously inspired by Jesus, as that person from my observation is not so generous.

When a miracle occurred in the other soul, it was so unexpected that the victim soul was at first buoyant but then realized that an exchange had been made. Something, some aspect, of the victim soul's life would be sacrificed so the other soul could be free and fulfill its destiny--a destiny more active and visible and useful in the real world than that of the victim soul's life.

Ah, this was a painful realization, and the victim soul was not so joyful about this aspect. Yet, the sulking was firmly and lovingly shooed away by Jesus' words in the Gospel reading at the very next Mass. So, even in rather interesting or different offerings, a striving victim soul is trained every step of the way and not turned back if the intentions are of loving desire to help Jesus save souls. I'm sure that the cited victim soul will have more opportunities to practice suffering--and to remember joy in giving up some aspect of self in order for another to succeed!

It is important to point out that even though victim soul offerings may follow varying and unexpected routes, they don't necessarily involve strange situations. In fact, the situation cited, of one "assignment", is not any more strange than what Jesus explains in John 12:20-33 or the love a mother and father possesses in willingness to die for their child. This Gospel helps remind each of us that what we might consider to be "my life" is in reality "God-lent life." Each life is lent to be bent and conformed to God's will--specially chosen for this bending. The recipient of life should be cooperative and willing. Jesus demonstrates this life in the Crucifixion and teaches his apostles prior to His suffering and death, what is expected of all:

"I tell you most solemnly, unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest. Anyone who loves his life loses it; anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it for the eternal life. If a man serves Me, he must follow Me; wherever I am, my servant will be there too. If anyone serves Me, My Father will honor him."

This struck me as pertinent to explaining the how and why of victim love. We Victim Souls of the Sacred Heart love Jesus and are willing to die to ourselves for Him. We are willing to lose our lives out of love for Him, which means love for those He loves: souls! If we are to serve Him, we must follow Him. Where does He go? He goes to the Cross to suffer and die for our salvation! Wherever He is, we will be: on the Cross to suffer and die in union with Jesus.

Ultimately this could mean a physical death. Yes, we are each and all going to die a physical death whether or not we offer ourselves as Victim Souls of the Sacred Heart. Along the way, though, we are called to be wheat grains (if we want to serve Him), and there can be minor, seemingly imperceptible sufferings and deaths in our daily fallings to the ground, in being broken open like seeds which can grow and produce useful vegetation.

Why would anyone want to participate? In selfish but very human degrees, one could participate because one is already suffering and the thought comes: "Might as well give this victim soul stuff a try." This might be the base level, but the motives can climb through offering and grace to levels of joy and selfless love of Jesus, in great desire to be united with Him in His sufferings so as to be more conformed to Him as the object of deep, rich supernatural love--the love beyond human comprehension. The Guide to Victim Souls of the Sacred Heart offers more explanation as to three purposes or means of victim love.

"1. To accept the sacrifices which God Himself imposes or permits. This means patience in trials, be they corporal or spiritual, because they come from the hand of God, from His wisdom. It is the first degree of working for the Sacred Heart of Jesus, of permeating our whole life with the theme of atonement. By it we unite ourselves frequently during the day with Christ in His Sacrifice and offer Him our necessary daily work, our inevitable worries and crosses in loving resignation and patience.

"2. But victim love, with God's grace, does even more. It rises to joy in the privilege of suffering in Christ and accepts more of the burden of Christ's loving Heart. Viewing suffering as a favor and a call to a closer following of Christ, the victim soul is not satisfied merely with such sacrifices as he or she cannot refuse, but seeks to perfect himself or herself in those numberless occasions where only inventive love can find merit. To try to be buoyant, loyal and joyful in the whole range of duties of one's state of life, to hide one's feelings in weariness, fatigue and monotony, to add cordial graciousness to obedience toward superiors [bosses, parents, spiritual directors, teachers, spouses], to anticipate wishes of others, to leave the credit for work done well to others, to have outward and ready humility toward the frailties of others, to curb curiosity of eye and mind even for good things, to use spare moments in helping others--all these and more are examples of inventive victim love. If we take the blame for the mistakes of others, we surely are no longer concerned with self. Here as always, the victim soul will pray after the following fashion: I want to bring this sacrifice out of greater love for Jesus. I want to be unknown, to be forgotten. In union with the holy Sacrifice of the altar I want to offer atonement to the divine Heart, begging Him to bestow the grace of conversion on some poor sinner, some desperate dying person.

"3. The most generous victim love feels inspired to do still more. She gives herself to God as a perfect vicarious sacrifice for others. Such a soul begs God to let her suffer whatever punishments sinners have deserved for their sins. For others who have a lesser love, it would be imprudent to ask for a heavy cross, because they would by their impatience and discouragement offend the divine Heart rather than make atonement; but God inspires some, few though they be, with an all-out desire for heroic penance and humiliations, for martyrdom andsuffering like that of the divine Savior Himself. Here spiritual direction is necessary: permission for extraordinary penances and sufferings should be obtained from one's confessor or spiritual director [priest] to safeguard the victim spirit from spiritual self-will, pride and self-deception. Under direction this love thrives and expands to save all sinners, even the greatest."

One who is new to these concepts but who is desiring now to be a Victim Soul of the Sacred Heart should not fear. Jesus will not load crosses upon crosses which are burdens; He says His yoke is easy and His burden light. That is, He provides the graces necessary to endure, if the soul is willing to love Him enough to serve Him, and thus to follow Him. Don't expect, by offering oneself as a victim soul, that the exterior stigmata (wounds of Christ) will come by morning, or that Jesus will appear at the foot of your bed and ask you to be martyred that very day. The bulk of the sufferings may be what you already suffer day in and day out in situations, in secondary suffering, in supportive suffering for others. In other cases but less common He may will primary suffering or in imminent suffering and death. One just never knows; it is up to God. But He does not give what is unbearable, unendurable.

I suspect that if one desires extraordinary sufferings or phenomenon, to be noticed (often masked in hidden pride), the sufferings will be denied. None of us can outwit God consciously or subconsciously in any of the Three Persons of the Most Blessed Trinity.

On the other hand, I have found that Jesus works tenderly and at the right pace with His Victim Souls of the Sacred Heart. Through reading many books of holy victim souls, this is always the case. Even in cases of victim souls in-training, the victim soul may make exuberant offerings, from deep in the heart. Then, when these offerings come to be accepted in the degree Jesus deems possible or necessary in His wisdom, the suffering may be great and there might be complaints, but Jesus always knows when to lighten the load or bring about His desired result.

The following definition of a victim soul is found in Fr. John Hardon's Modern Dictionary. "Victim Soul. A person specially chosen by God to suffer more than most people during life, and who generously accepts the suffering in union with the Savior and after the example of Christ's own Passion and Death. The motive of a victim soul is great love of God and the desire to make reparation for the sins of mankind."

To this definition I would offer the expanded view, such as that of the religious sisters of the early 20th century who had as their charism the offering of themselves as victim souls and their lay apostolate call for victim souls, and of the views of victim souls such as St. Pio and the Servant of God, Conchita of Mexico. In these instances and others, victim souls can be specially chosen by God, and to suffer more than most people during life. However, they can also be people who out of great love of God and the desire to make reparation for the sins of mankind, offer themselves and their secondary, supportive, situational or imminent sufferings without a specific invitation. Jesus and the Virgin Mary have made the invitation as a general call to all souls through not only various approved apparitions and writings but more so through the example of Christ's own Passion and Death and through proof in Scriptures.

So much suffering is going to waste in our time. As the theology professor asked yesterday, "Do you think that if people made offerings of sufferings even of psychological [emotional] sufferings, and for specific intentions, that the Supreme Court could be affected in changing legislation allowing abortion?"

Well, what do you think? Do we not have the example of Jesus and many cited examples of the offerings of known and unknown victim souls throughout the centuries as proof of miraculous interventions for issues as well as the individual soul? Does Jesus not show us the salvific power of His suffering and provide us a means to uniting our sufferings with His, for reparation and redemption which are on-going needs?

St. Paul said in Colossians 1:24: "It makes me happy to suffer for you, as I am suffering now, and in my own body to do what I can to make up all that has still to be undergone by Christ for the sake of His body, the Church." This and so many Scriptures take on truth in deeper meaning when one opens up to the powerful, accessible reality of offering oneself as a Victim Soul of the Sacred Heart. We delve into yet another topic: Why become a victim soul? I pray these writings are understandable and not meandering without purpose. Please accept that I write under the cross of physical pain and age--yes, offered to the Sacred Heart for His use!


Post a Comment

<< Home