Monday, April 03, 2006

A Victim Soul Must Have Compassion

Dom Hubert Van Zeller, OSB wrote about compassion in his reflections on the Stations of the Cross. Compassion relates well with the Fourth Station: Jesus meets His afflicted Mother.

A victim soul must have compassion. Compassion is a form of co-suffering, of suffering with the other, and the Other. It comes through personal effort, cooperation, and also by Divine Grace. One must ask for the gift of compassion. Love is necessary.

Compassion must exist interiorly before any genuine exterior acts of mercy can have legitimacy. "Compassion is...constant willingness to share in the suffering of others. It is yielding to another's cross as if it were one's own. It is making that other cross one's own" (Van Zeller, Approach to Calvary, pp. 35-36).

Outer signs or works of compassion prove that the virtue of compassion is there. They are not the virtue itself. The love of God must exist within in order for fruit of that love to grow and be given another. Love does not remain inoperative. Love operates from within to without.

The Virgin Mary expressed her interior love and compassion through suffering with her Son. Her suffering did not need to be outwardly expressed, although it was in her presence to Him. Jesus suffered with his mother, as she anguished in love at His suffering. They co-passionated. This is perfect love.

Perfect love assumes perfect compassion. "The presence of love assumes compassion just as the absence of love disproves it. The saints could enter sincerely into the trials of others not because they had themselves always experienced such trials but because they loved God. Their love of God made them see. They saw into the sufferings of others and immediately wanted to share the pain which they saw there" (ibid. pp. 36-7).

Love must have God as its primary focus and object or compassion is mere emotion. Our understanding of others' sufferings is a gift of the Holy Spirit (gift of understanding) and thus a necessary aspect of charity.

Mary's compassion may have been less visible and thus not viewed outwardly. She interiorized the suffering she bore; she pondered these things in her heart. Yet the compassion was supernaturalized as a virtue in love, with feeling more than what we feel due to the perfect compassion through her great love of Christ.

Idle compassion is worse than no compassion at all. We may see suffering all around; we may ponder it; but if we do nothing--not even ponder the suffering--we fall into a "negation of virtue which is a frustration of grace." When compassion is shut out and not allowed to be pondered and acted upon interiorly or exteriorly, it turns evil. This opens up to cynical indifference, tendency to blame, intolerance, and preoccupation with one's own difficulties to the exclusion of seeing the larger problems of individuals and peoples, in general.

True compassion follows the natural order of charity which begins with Christ's Passion. Meditate on His Passion first, then "the soul with Mary and the saints, volunteers companionship." This is love to suffer, suffer to love, at its root and pinnacle. Surrender to love, and the grace of compassionate co-suffering will be supplied.

We must bring compassion to Christ, and this means to bring compassion to the Body of Christ in all Her members, whether or not we think they deserve it. Wherever there are humans with souls, there is suffering that Christ needs us to tend as wounds to bind. This includes our own sufferings. All must be met through and in love. Ponder, pray, suffer with, and love.

There are other aspects embedded within meditation of the Stations of the Cross which are invaluable for the life of a victim soul. Cooperation. Generosity. Dealing with discouragement.

I will write on all these in greater detail. Today I am quite weary with suffering physically. Yes, I have offered the achiness to Jesus for His use for whatever souls out there, including my own.

The Masses thus far this morning have been beyond description in their mysterious truth, beauty, peace, love, and life. My comfortable existence in this earth realm is something I hope and pray not to take for granted. What physical pain and even spiritual pain that I am given is balanced by warmth, clothing, shelter, food and a good useless daily schedule of spiritual invigoration. The spiritual pain is assuaged by Masses. And prayer, spiritual reading, fellow pilgrims on the journey, and the Bread of Life and Love of the Most Holy Trinity, the angels and the saints, especially the Mother of all of us, Mary, Most Holy.

Off to noon Mass at the Cathedral. The Bishop is going to celebrate this Mass in commemoration of the year anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II. I have saved my second reception of Eucharist of this day, for this Mass. May Jesus feed my body, mind, heart and spirit as He wills, through His Body and Blood. May my ears be unstopped and my eyes be openened, interiorly, through the Word and Sacrifice of the Altar, in the Mass.