It was just another Saturday morning in the confessional line with my family. As I examined my conscience, I realized that I had been a major crank with my family lately. I dug around in my heart trying to figure out the root of it, only to see that it was directly related to being sick for months. I pleaded with Him, God, how can you expect someone dealing with chronic pain and illness to be joyful?
His response was something along the lines of today’s first reading.
"[W]e do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15).
But this did not stop my protest, But Jesus, You are God . . . I am only human.
I was then filled with a great sense of His compassion. He did sympathize. He had already made my pain and my suffering His own—all suffering everywhere had been redeemed by Him whether we realize it or not.
But He took it a step further by offering to transform me more closely to Him through my own suffering. It was as if He were saying, You know, Susanna, the only way to live virtuously is by actually accepting My grace. The Saints who suffered gracefully did exactly that, with My help.
Then I realized my great lack of hope in Him. I had been going through my days trying and failing to be brave and cheerful on my own, when He was right beside me, carrying my cross along with me, just waiting to give me His peace and joy in my suffering.
"So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help" (Hebrews 4:16).
I knew after this time of going to Confession, His grace would help me in my struggles, each and every time I sought it out.
Have you heard any of Venerable Fulton Sheen's sermons on suffering? Watch an old-school broadcast clip here.
Susanna Spencer is the Theological Editor for Blessed is She who studied theology and philosophy in her earlier life. She happily cares for her three adorable little girls, toddler boy, and her dear husband in Saint Paul when not writing and editing. She loves beautiful liturgies, cooking delicious meals, baking amazing sweets, reading good books, raising her children, casually following baseball, and talking to her philosopher husband. You can find out more about her here. She is the Theological Editor of both the Catechism Studies and the Mystery Studies.