Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Victim Soul or Not?

A loving, suffering soul left a comment with questions on another blog, but I felt it fit best in victim soul content as opposed to the hermit category. I did respond on that blog, some, but prayed and waited and have a bit more to contribute, such as it is.

This is the comment with questions:

My life seems to be one of suffering. Even though I have suffered my whole life, I feel that since I found Jesus (many years ago), my sufferings have increased but also I have had so many more blessings too. How do I know if Jesus wants me to be a victim soul? If I offer myself to suffer could that be wrong? (I have actually offered already many years ago, but I am not sure if He took me up on it- I definitely suffer but am I a victim soul? I don't know.) Lately I feel like I find myself wondering what can I do for God? What am I doing? Am I supposed to offer myself for others or did I just assume that? I actually abhor the thought of suffering and I am a hypochondriac. I suffer from much anxiety and always have since my childhood. I have numerous health issues. How do I know if I am given these from Jesus or not? I am afraid to be self- supposing and assume Jesus wants me to be a victim soul for I am very prideful and so far from perfection that I don't feel I can trust my own self or my motives. Are they my self-serving motives somehow or HIs? I actually believe He wants all souls to be united with Him, but I feel so unworthy. I can picture others being called but not myself. My failings and sins seem so apparently visible to me that they cause me suffering. I am also a mother. Should a mother offer herself in that way? For I feel guilty that I have asked for suffering and my husband and family are of course affected by my life. My children especially have been afflicted with health problems and this in turn feels like a sword in my heart. I can imagine no other worse way to suffer than to see my children in pain- what if I have indirectly asked for this by offering to suffer? Lastly, Is being a victim soul the same as offering up our sufferings. We are taught to offer it up, that all souls suffer to win souls. Is that the same as being a victim soul? I do hope you will reply. I am in agony just over wether I am doing the right thing or not. Many times I feel restless in my faith like there is an upheaval of sorts going on in my soul but I have no idea why. I feel so very alone. It's not like I have a hand book or know a community that has this charism. My husband is a lukewarm catholic (he hasn't been given the gift of faith and seems to choose what suits him and doesn't worry much about salvation) and my extended family are atheists. I feel alone and have no-one to turn to about the matter.

After a few days of prayer and pondering, the first response is that I don't know. I don't know who is a victim soul or not, but the soul will know if God needs the soul to know. Once, someone realized they were a mystic. The Lord then asked, "Why do you need a label?"

So, whether or not one is a victim soul, might not matter as much as living out the modality of a victim soul, which, like a hermit, has certain "givens." One is that the person offers whatever suffering comes--offers this with gratitude for Christ to use as He wills. This might be for reparation of sins of particular souls, of one's own soul, or of unknown souls. The victim soul does not need to know. Perhaps Jesus will decide to let the person know, however. And whatever. But another given is that one vocation will not preclude or interfere negatively with another vocation, such as marriage. The daily duty must continue, and a sacramental vocation such as marriage would not be jeopardized--at least not by God!

That is why it seems reasonable that there are degrees within the vocation of victim soul. Does the suffering come from God? Well, would it come from the devil? If one does not have a peace with the suffering, or is taking pride in the suffering over a period of time, and discovers that the suffering is a manifestation of the psyche, then it probably is not from God. But even sufferings of the mind and emotions can be utilized and offered to God, even if they are not per se from God--or the underlying motives are confused and not holy (pride, desire for recognition, or other pathologies, etc.). It seems from my limited experience, that when something is tainted by the devil, there is no better way to flush the evil out than by telling God that you aren't sure if the suffering is from him or not, but that regardless you are offering it to Him, and are acknowledging it all to be His and His alone.

Of course, one can simply ASK God if the suffering is from Him, and then wait, pray, and in time one will have an answer.

Is it right to ask for suffering? Well, the saints did. St. Peter asked to be crucified upside down, which would bring even more suffering. He had a reason for this penance, this act of submission and humility: witnessing that he is unworthy to be crucified in the manner of Christ. It was some mortification, huh?

Is being a victim soul the same as offering up our sufferings? The vocation as a victim soul is a vocation. Offering up our sufferings seems more an act that might not include a full-rooted vocation. However, as I have previously written and suggested five levels of vows as a victim soul, even if situational, one can surely be a situational victim soul. What is required in a vocation, however, is a call. The call can be subtle, over time, or immediate and loud and clear. If there has been a long-enduring sense that one is being asked to suffer on behalf of souls, and if there is a desire for this which is not from an emotional or psychological pathology, then chances are that is a call.

One can test calls, of course. Pray. Ponder. Continue on in daily life with doing one's earthly duty. Are the dishes being washed and laundry folded and put away? Are family needs being met? Is the prayer life stable, Mass attendance regular, confession on-going, spiritual direction sought and accepted? Someone with a vocation seeks advice from the priest, confessor, spiritual director--to help discern the vocation call. Then, one continues to live, and over time, especially with suffering and the vocation as a victim soul, God will give affirmations along the way. Even something like hypochondria can be a suffering worth offering to Jesus for reparation. However, victim souls do not take pride in their sufferings and so seek alleviation to the sufferings.

This is perhaps one of the best discernment tools. If the suffering can be alleviated by medication, therapy, or other mortal means (which are given by God Who gives us all good), then the person will know that at least the suffering was situational, for a certain period of time. That would eliminate, at least for that time phase, being a primary victim soul or even a secondary one.

Perhaps it is best to keep in mind that God would not desire the soul to fret about it too much. One can ask to be a victim soul, and God will either say "yes" or "no." If one has offered to suffer, and one suffers, then in time there will be some kind of peace and affirmations as to the vocation's validity.

Again, it probably isn't so important to know if one is a victim soul or not, but to have faith that if one offered to suffer and is suffering, that at least that has been allowed by God. Even if the sufferings are not so much physical, they can be offered with love and joy. Even if the sufferings are spiritual in nature, they can be offered with love and joy.

Perhaps the distinction between "offering it up" and being a "victim soul" is that there is a kind of agreement between the soul and Jesus in the vocation aspect. The victim soul has offered first or been asked first, either way, and the person has some indications that Jesus has accepted the offer--or the person has told Jesus that the person agrees to the suffering, to this vocation. A vow given and received by a priest helps dispel the doubts, for the priest would have spent time going over the situation with the person making the vow.

Sometimes a person might make a private vow before the Tabernacle, or in the night in bed! But, it does seem very prudent to then discuss this vocation with a priest who has some understanding of suffering and of victim souls. Read many books of victim souls, but do not think that any path will be the same. And, one must not let the imagination take over, for that is the devil's playground--once the gate is opened to emotions and imagination.

Trust that the Lord will let you know, when and where and how He deems you need to know if you are a victim soul or not. In the mean time, suffer to love and love to suffer.

I pray this answers the questions, somewhat, or at least gives some ideas as to how to proceed, for the person who wrote such a lovely, heartfelt comment with questions.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi. You can post this if you wish, I don't mind, I just have a few questions.

I feel, and have felt before, the call to be a victim soul. I just have an extremely limited idea as to how to even begin. I noticed that elsewhere you posted something about a manual - could you send that to me please?

Most of my information pertaining to this has come through the book "Sister Mary of the Holy Trinity", and now here. Unfortunately, that leaves me with a sketchy understanding. It whets my appetite for more - to be sure - but I don't feel comfortable with going any further with things until I know a bit more about what I am doing, and how things tend to work.

Although I have already agreed to do what is asked of me, purely out of trust and a desire to serve (as well as, I've discovered, a form of pride over even being asked) I haven't really 'buckled down' to it for fear of screwing things up, and - I suppose - the reality of going back to what was happening to me before.

Even though I know I will be taken care of, as I was before, and the only thing that changes is the awareness of what is going on and the acknowledgment that there is a purpose behind it all now - I still feel fear and trepidation over it all. I don't want to displease Him or make things worse for anyone after all, that is contrary to the point of it all.

I will add that I converted to the faith, and recently discovered this...Trust? Mysticism? Spirituality? I'm not sure how to refer to it.

Anyway - any help and direction you could give me is greatly appreciated.

God Bless you and your efforts

Peace

10:01 AM  
Blogger John said...

Oh. Just a question further. Do you have something that 'reads' my email addy or something? I don't remember ever signing up for this, and I know Ive not signed in - yet my name and e-mail address turned up below???

Thank-you

God Bless

John

10:05 AM  
Blogger nothing said...

Dear John,

No, on my e-mail neither your name nor e-mail are shown, so I have only this means of communicating, but will possibly give an e-mail you can communicate, if necessary. I am going to be going to Mass again soon, so am going to pray about the response to your other question, and hopefully get back to you this evening. Actually, your request for the pamphlet/guide is an answer to a prayer question I've been asking the last couple of days, of the Holy Spirit. It has to do with writing it. Anytime I seem to ask, I get a comment from someone who wants a copy--and so I must finish it--or so it seems!

More later.

with you, in just adoring Him and in gratitude for your conversion and desire to offer yourself in whatever way God wills,

nothing

10:43 AM  
Blogger nothing said...

Dear One,

Now as I have had some time to pray, and to re-read your questions and concerns, it seems that just giving yourself totally to God is most important, for if you are called, and you say you have been asked, and you know how to discern with the help of your confessor--I do think that it is best to not interfere with God in trying to have control.

However, I often try to keep control, so that is why I can advise not to have control! You say you want more information before proceeding; but the point is, God is the One Who does the proceeding, and we simply follow, or not.

As for concrete ways to become temporally educated, I have read lives of victim souls, have read books on suffering, and especially books on interior life--and keep to the very orthodox books that are written by saints or theologians and priests known for their holiness and wisdom in the spiritual life. And they are usually dead and proven--not necessarily light-weight reading, but that which takes some effort. I read very slowly. It does not matter how much, but to absorb and to practice. Then, there is the matter of daily Mass and weekly confession, and paying close attention to the Scripture, and then trying to live it out. Then, also, there is the matter of prayer.

I try to ask the Holy Spirit to let me know what books to read, when, and what Scripture, and even though I am not "good" at praying the rosary (mind wanders, etc.), it is what Our Lady has asked of us, and it is what Padre Pio says is the "weapon" against the enemy.

Also, you may as well know that the path of a victim soul is usually very long, and the suffering comes in all kinds of ways, and usually not anything externally noticed by self or others. Much of it is the daily grind of suffering, and very much interior sufferings. If you read books on the interior life, or books by victim souls or about them, you will gain their lessons learned along their lives, and that has been very helpful.

A victim soul must learn to be a very interior soul. There is a book that is still available but out of print, ed. by Tissot, and called "The Interior Life." It is one that I began to read (slowly!) and am going to continue (slowly!). There are many others.
Adoration and praying before a Crucifix and before the Tabernacle, asking the Holy Spirit to teach you about Jesus the Victim, and to teach you about the Sacrifice at the Altar, are recommended by all the spiritual masters of the Church. Also, to set aside time each day for God Alone--an hour or more.

But, pray for me that I, too, just keep letting go and relinquish all but God's will. Pray that you are able to make a full and complete offering of yourself, knowing that doubts go along with the suffering--as doubts are a suffering in themselves. Overcome the doubts, and ask not for consolations but know that God will give them as needed.

The book I am reading now is about a religious sister who died in early 20th c., and she is little known. Her priest uncle wrote her life, and yet she is a great victim soul, truly, and she learned to love to suffer, and she learned what it was to make reparation. She was a member of the Society of Marie Reparatrice (Mary of
Reparation)--a religious order. But, victim souls are not always in religious orders!

Well, dear one, keep up the good desire, effort, and selfless giving of self and of being willing to suffer, but whatever it is that God wants you to suffer, when, how, and why.

Does this help? The best education is that of the interior, by the Holy Spirit, the Sacraments, the Scripture, and Tradition.

5:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi

Thank-you, yes - your kind words have helped to settle my doubts. So much so that I have realized that already I have taken on suffering for others - in many small ways.

Your advice also has helped to steer me, and I thank-you for that. I hope it will be no trouble to you if I come back and ask questions now and then. I'm sure I will have some.

God bless you and your efforts to spread His message. Thank-you for your time and trouble on this blog, as it has been tremendously helpful to me.

Thank-you


Peace and all that is good

John

8:39 AM  
Blogger nothing said...

Dear John,

I have not been continuing the blog, but I have been continuing learning how to suffer. As you are! Thank you for your willingness to help make reparation--for the love of Jesus, for souls, for injustice, for love, for our own souls.

There is a chapter of a book that has been helpful, and perhaps I ought to try to share that, somehow.

Write back, anytime. I am grateful for your prayers. I have been praying for you this afternoon, while out dead-heading roses and thinking of my mother who passed away 4 years ago this afternoon. She did not understand the Catholic truth and view of suffering being a good, and a useful benefit when embraced like Jesus. I guess I just read something else that is helpful to us both--and all victim souls or anyone--and that is to just study Jesus intently. Not just his exterior sufferings, but the interior sufferings of his whole earthly life and of his sacrifices, and not just the Passion. That is the best way we can be assured of suffering as He wills and desires, and which is most benefit to His use for on-going reparation of insults to Him and for salvation of all of us.

Keep offering, my dear friend in Christ's sufferings!

nothing

11:07 AM  

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