Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Speaking of Pain

Just thinking about the crosses that people bear. Everyone does, and prayer and penance helps.

Does speaking of pain help? Someone brings up valid points as to sharing the realities of one's sufferings. Perhaps there is a commonality expressed, and also there may be example given: how to deal with suffering in a holy manner, and how not! And, in any given person's life, there are no doubt admixtures of both.

For the Catholic--we are to suffer like the saints. We are to suffer like the Blessed Mother. We are to suffer like the apostles and martyrs. We are to suffer like CHRIST!

The person shared about various saints, including St. Therese of Lisieux. She did write about her pain. The person rightly pointed out that often the saints' revelatory writings are to be found in their personal correspondence. And usually, there is seen in reading their letters to others, a progression in suffering, of being able to watch them rise from selfish suffering of the baser human instincts, to heroic suffering in a kind of selflessness.

Perhaps it is the progression that is the joy in suffering, or an aspect of the joy. It demonstrates the person is striving toward and desiring union with Christ's salvific suffering.

Was going to try to not mention the pain, and that might help to not think of it. But when a person has steady, physical pain, or those who have steady emotional pain, it is probably not possible to not think of it, unless one passes out or falls asleep exhausted, or has some kind of ecstasy! Maybe some of the saints' ecstasies were God's way of lifting them out of the intense, human suffering.

Probably many who suffer have had experiences in which God sent help in supernatural ways. Perhaps an angel came in the night and injected the person with some kind of pain reliever. Or maybe there were other Divine consolations that made the suffering more endurable.

But as one goes along the victim soul path, a ways, the consolations are fewer, it seems. This is for a good reason. The victim soul is being trained in strength, endurance, and faith--at all levels: body, mind, heart and soul.

If the victim soul recognizes this, and anticipates that this is training time, the victim soul can cooperate. The recognition of such training helps the victim soul remain calm and patient. In many instances, the person does not know if the suffering will be relieved or not, soon, later, or ever.

Questions arise. They begin with basic needs and move up the hierarchy from physical to emotional/psychological, to intellectual and finally spiritual needs. How will the person manage the household tasks? How will the person handle not being able to do what it used to be able to do? What will be the mental ramifications of this change in existence or in the suffering itself? What is God doing? Why is He willing and allowing this added suffering?

Best to put those questions aside for awhile, and simply wait and pray. Keep trying to do little things, to remain as functional as possible. If one cannot, then the questions will often be answered by those God sends, human or angelic. Figure that one lesson God desires the victim soul to learn, is detachment.

Instead of thinking of what might happen and when, or how long, O Lord--think about prayer intentions of other people. If the pain is such that one cannot focus on specifics, pray for whoever God knows has the greatest needs. Let the mind be suspended and see who God brings into the inner sight. Keep assuring the Lord that whatever He wills, is fine and dandy. And think that you really believe it! And truly, all is fine and dandy.

Say, "When I'm on my death bed, am I going to worry about it?" And if you are on your death bed, say, "There are far worse things in life than death."

Well, maybe not say these things, but keep a sense of humor, anyway. And keep that sense of detachment alive and well, whether living or dying.

Don't count on certain deadlines, but have some goals. If your dear spiritual da wants you to visit on a certain day, set the appointment. If it comes to that day, and you are still suffering much, call and set a day at his convenience for the next week. Make going to Mass a goal, and if you absolutely physically cannot go, watch Mass on EWTN, and if you don't have that, listen to it on radio or computer, and if not that, read Scripture, and if you cannot read due to too much suffering, think Scripture, or ask someone to read Psalms to you, and if there is no one with you, then ask God to fill your mind with loving thoughts, loving words, beautiful music. Think love. Think of all the love in your life, and of all the loving people and glorious gifts in this world and in God's kingdom. Don't forget to LOL, and if you are too pained to LOL, then think laughter, for there is laughter in dying, and on the way to heaven.

If you become over-peopled, and tire from a phone call or cannot correspond easily or at all, then think the thoughts of love and prayer of people, and know in faith that someday, even if they do not understand why you have not been in touch with them, that they will know from God that you thought of them with love and prayer.

And then, after all that and other ways of good suffering, loving and functional suffering, if there is time left and you have a need, speak of your pain. But it is worth practicing not, for if a someone calls and asks how you are feeling, and if it really doesn't matter for it isn't going to change how your are feeling and you know the other person isn't going to comprehend the pain, anyway, just gloss over it and ask them about their lives.

But if you need help in something, then ask, and explain if necessary that you have not been well, and cannot do this or that and so forth.

And count on God to water the plants, if you absolutely cannot; but if you can even water two or three, and that is good as a little goal and to get some fresh air and move about, then try. And get in the habit of making an offering before doing anything, even before having thoughts, and offer the intentions for souls. It is also good to say the prayer intention that the angel told the three children of Fatima: O Jesus, I offer this for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Learn these techniques and prayers ahead of time. Have them ingrained so that they can come naturally in time of greater suffering. Remember, too, that smiling does help reduce pain, even if you are smiling alone in your bed, or as you go to sleep. Practice a nice smile when you are able to go to Mass, for think of how Jesus looks out at us from His Tabernacle, and sees such serious, sometimes grumpy faces with down-turned lips. Old people especially get these drooped lips, so it takes an act of the will for that tiny smile, a pleasant countenance. Practice this smile.

If you are besieged by sudden suffering and have not practiced techniques that saints have exemplified (such as suffering in silence or not letting on and being other-centered more and more), then begin practicing them with the first pain, whether physical or emotional. It can even be the suffering of financial hardships--both physically and emotionally painful.

Maybe tell your confessor that you feel so sick, that it has been hell, that you don't know what is going on and what God is doing, and that you no doubt are suffering for your many sins, as it is all right to be open to thinking about how one has sinned when one is suffering--as long as you don't make yourself scrupulous about them. Keep that little smile handy, and think about how good it will feel to have those sins washed away in confession. Laugh in triumph that the sins were brought to the surface in suffering (maybe as a result of pain), as God is victorious in your soul! Maybe tell your spiritual da how sick you've been, and ask his prayers, but only if it will not unduly distress him.

If you must release the pain through verbalization and expression, write it in a kind of journal, and remember to praise God, or bring the pain to some spiritual point, lovingly and joyfully. And don't worry if you don't seem joyful. God knows that you are trying to suffer as well as possible and are cooperating with the training session in victimsoulhood.

[The cross in the photo, on the left, is a bishop's cross. It has a special name, but am too tired to think of it. But have been thinking and praying about bishops, and the one in this diocese, and how many crosses he carries for the Lord and His Church, daily and nightly. Our bishop stays up quite late at night, working at his humble home, handling problem after problem that we sheep cause. His cross reflects immense light, for God is pleased with him.]


Anonymous Amy Marie Ivsan said...

I really appreciate your blog. You have wonderful recommendations for people suffering. I wish I could be so thoughtful and disciplined. The irony of pain is suffering, is that at times it seems so grave, silence is not an option for it falls prey to true misery of soul. Perhaps, those are just the growing pains or pruning aches of needed spiritual progress. Keep on writing for I am certain your experience is helping others. Pax Christi. -Amy

3:51 AM  
Blogger nothing said...

Dear Amy,

I have not been writing for nearly five months. I am praying about continuing, though, but not sure in what genre. For now, am learning more about suffering!

And I am NOT silent about it! I think you bring up an astute point, as silence is not always possible. Sighs aren't silence. Even inner sighs are not silent.

So perhaps the valiant victim souls of which we read and hear, cried out within their souls in anguish, as Jesus cried out on the Cross.

Thanks for your peace in Christ!

I admit I've just found yet another victim soul book, and it is in the post from the UK--today!

God bless you!

(and I'm not so thoughtful and disciplined at all, but once more am
trying to be more disciplined and more loving--thanks to reading some of St. Bernard, the best doctor I've ever gone to thus far)

with you, in just adoring Him and in gratitude,


7:11 AM  

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