Today is the Feast of Saint Cecilia, who—providentially—also happens to be my confirmation Saint.
I chose her as an idealistic 8th-grader for her pretty name and patronage of musicians, as I played instruments in our church choir. But I didn't connect with her beyond that until recently when I began to encounter more suffering—and saw Saint Cecilia's own suffering and martyrdom, terrible as they were, in a whole new light: bringing forth a particular kind of beauty and heroism, echoing the same strength and undying faith as the mother and sons immortalized in today's First Reading. (2 Maccabees 7)
For most of us, their experiences are a clear worst-case scenario. And yet, the accounts of their suffering contain a paradoxical beacon of hope. It seems that in the end, they were not on the losing team, but instead triumphantly victorious.
This is a hard lesson to digest for those of us still so paralyzed by the woes of this world.
I often tell myself I'm willing to suffer for God.
To sacrifice in return for my Lord and Savior, the epitome of complete self-donation: with His divine and human heart that first started beating, then so excruciatingly stopped, then began beating again—specifically, personally, for you and me.
In reality, I'm simply good at taking the very occasional break from feeling victimized by my suffering in order to "offer it up," so maybe once in awhile our Lord can actually use it for good.
I'm not saying we should go looking for suffering and ridicule. But we can bet that our true path to Heaven—to sainthood—will involve suffering in Christ's name.
The question is, how generously do we try to receive it out of love of our Savior who gave so much more? Do we accept the chance to face it head on? Or do we try to escape, hide from it, pull back from God?
He gave all, up to and including His life, for you and me. Today, let's commit to giving more of ourselves in return.
Megan Hjelmstad is a wife, mom, writer and sometimes soldier whose real passion is equal parts faith and chocolate. You can find out more about her here.