Saturday, August 06, 2005

The Way of Victimhood

Someone suggested my not using the term victim soul in what is to begin with, an "order of one." The Victim Souls of the Sacred Heart is the "religious order" to which God has called me, and to which I am responding. In prayer, I contemplated other names, but the truth is always best, and the term "victim soul" is accurate, historical, meaningful, and thus desirable.

It is a term which some may think is too frightening. One learned woman said these people should be called "soldiers" or "heroes." Well, they haven't been called either and wouldn't want to be. Victim souls are quiet, prefer hiddenness as suffering is a private, usually hidden vocation--at least the spiritual aspects are hidden and deep. As was mentioned previously, not all, not even most, victim souls experience unusual marks of their suffering. They may or may not be invited by Jesus to be a victim of His Heart, to join Him on the cross in the work of reparation. Yes, some have been asked in various ways, but many simply and courageously and privately offer themselves and their sufferings for His great work, for His apostolate of suffering. As in faith, Jesus blesses those who, for example, can offer themselves to Him without His having to invite, manifest, or provide some other sign or wonder.

This quote from St. John of the Cross' The Ascent of Mount Carmel struck me as important for anyone agreeing to be a Victim Soul of the Sacred Heart. "For whatever does not engender humility, charity, mortification, holy simplicity, silence, and so on, of what value is it?"
Suffering without meaning does not engender anything except self-pity, more pain, and desolation. Suffering which is offered to Jesus in union with His Sacred Heart, for His use in making reparation for the sins of the world, however, takes on invaluable, eternal meaning. Suffering as a Victim Soul of the Sacred Heart engenders humility, charity, mortification, holy simplicity, silence--and so on!

Now, if you do not suffer and think you never will, or if you suffer or might suffer sometime but don't want to participate in meaningful suffering--suffering which might be of spiritual use to Jesus and to the world, then you wouldn't want to bother with these realities. I know of people who just suffer and suffer and keep trying to ignore it or climb out of it or find earthly distractions. I used to do this. But try as I might, the suffering was always present, and in my desperation I began to beg God to help me. And He helped me. I am one of those with little faith and much need. I would still prefer a pain-free, active life, filled with goodness for God in all the ways that one can actively serve Him. However, He chooses otherwise, and I accept with love.

Since I didn't quite get the game-plan He had, He gave me many clues. He still does by means of closing doors which aren't going to assist my life as a victim soul, and thus would be of little use to His Divine needs and my own soul's progression. Words such as "mortification" and "be an immolation" came up in the oddest ways and places, unexpectedly. I had to find out what they meant. "Mortification" led me to a Protestant minister who immediately led me to a Catholic nun who he thought could help, as he didn't know what to think of it all. She knew what to make of it, and I received much help and a whole world of a positive and truthful way of viewing suffering. For years God had been trying to lead me to the Catholic Church, the church Jesus had founded on the rock of Peter. I finally got the point and converted. From there, my vocation as a victim soul took root and flourished, and yet it is still a human struggle because of my weak faith. But my conversion and all that has transpired since is another amazing story of which I won't write at this time.

Rather, I must continue in what it is to be a Victim Soul of the Sacred Heart in case others may want to know more and to offer themselves to such a worthy, desired, and holy work. One does not need to be a Catholic to be a victim soul. However, as I found from my 44 years as a Protestant and 10 years now as a Catholic, one is introduced to a full view of Christ and Church in Catholicism, and thus the concepts and truths will be more familiar for Catholics than others. But this should not discourage anyone who loves Jesus and who wants to offer self to Him, to offer his or her sufferings in such meaningful, invaluable, salvific work.

What is a victim soul? I found this description in a rather old, obscure booklet which is based upon a yet more rare guide book.

"A victim soul is one who realizes the sacrificial spirit of Calvary as a member of the Mystical Body. As the name 'victim soul' indicates, they are those who wish to give themselves entirely as a sacrifice to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Their purpose is to make atonement for the offenses He has to suffer, especially in our time, at the hands of ungrateful people. The Savior suffered vicariously, that is, for others out of perfect love. Imitating Him, these faithful souls endeavor by their sacrifices to lead back to the Sacred Heart of the Good Shepherd a great many people who have gone astray. In this way they share His work of redemption.

"The victim souls surrender themselves unreservedly to the most adorable Heart of Jesus, so that He may employ them entirely according to His good pleasure. They are willing to accept in advance, in the spirit of penance, all spiritual and corporal sufferings which He may see fit to impose on them.

"The giving of oneself to God as a victim soul is deservedly called 'the most beautiful flower which grows in the garden of the Sacred Heart of Jesus,' because these victim souls have grasped the devotion to the Sacred Heart in its deepest meaning. They prove their love for Christ not with words only, but with deeds, through the actual sacrificing of their innermost selves."

Some practical matters of being a Victim Soul of the Sacred Heart may be clarified by a discussion of the "types" or "degrees" of being a victim soul. This is difficult to categorize, but perhaps it will make some feel welcome or at ease. Of course, there is only one degree of offering from within one's heart: a full and unreserved abandonment of oneself to Jesus. However, at least in my case, this does not always happen at once. I tend to cling to "myself" and have over a period of years. Detachment doesn't come easy to me; it has to do with pride and lack of trust. Fear. But God has dispelled the fears and questions, bit by bit, as much as I can fathom. Now He has me in a period of darkness in which I am called to deeper faith, blind faith, in the process. But, I know He told me to "Be an immolation" several years ago, and He told me "MORTIFICATION," and He has given me constant pain which began from a natural cause (accident) but to which He has allowed other pains to be added, commensurate with my ability and willingness to suffer. So, it is true that Jesus will not give us more than we can bear; this is so true for Victim Souls of the Sacred Heart. I have been reminded in startling ways that I have "agreed to this."

Some victim souls do not have suffering to begin with, or not of any obvious degree. Yet they offer themselves as victim souls to Jesus, for the above quoted purposes. These brave souls are usually religious women and men, of consecrated religious orders. In fact, the Society of the Daughters of the Heart of Jesus was one such community whose main apostolate was that of offering themselves as victim souls. They made sacrifices in their daily lives to offer to Jesus, and they offered any sufferings that came their way, daily, to Jesus. I haven't been able to find out if they are still in existence; there are no current references to them, to my knowledge. But their work must go on, and is going on, yet perhaps not in an organized society.

Some victim souls have sufferings which do not come through their own choices or doing. These souls suffer physically, emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually (or combination thereof) and are aware of the worth and need to offer their sufferings to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for His use. Once they make the offering, He leads them forth. I pray that what is written in this site (and otherwise) will help these and other victim souls to understand and better cooperate in their offering of self and sufferings.

Some victim souls have sufferings which do come through their own choices and actions. The sufferings unfold as above: physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual. For example, one who drinks and drives and has a terrible, disabling accident made the choice to risk physical health. One who refuses a moral life opens up to emotional suffering. One who chooses sin and mind-damaging elements incurs mental decline and suffering. And one who ignores or goes against God faces spiritual agony. While these sufferings were brought on by the persons' choices, and can in some cases be altered and alleviated, some of the sufferings cannot be alleviated if the damage is permanent; yet, the person can choose to be a Victim Soul of the Sacred Heart and bring much good out of the sufferings, and thus grow in Christ, help Him in reparation, and mitigate his or her own personal, soul damage.

So, it is possible for anyone to be a victim soul--anyone who suffers and desires to offer that suffering, to offer his own soul, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. There is nothing strange or freaky about the term, the process, or the very real outcomes in the physical and spiritual realms.

[While there is so much more to explain and discuss and share, if anyone who might read this has specific questions, please utilize the comment section of the blog or e-mail to:]


Post a Comment

<< Home