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How Do We Accept the Undesirable in Our Lives

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.

4 Comments

  • Reply
    Debby
    November 22, 2017 at 4:47 am

    I am going to a funeral today. It is for a 19 year old former student. He was a youngest son, and brother of 4 siblings. I keep thinking about his mom. I pray that God our Father will give her hope in her suffering. I am reminded that our children belong to our Father and are angels loaned to us for only a brief moment ~ thank you for your insight and inspiration.

  • Reply
    Denise
    November 22, 2017 at 8:48 am

    This… 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.

    Thank you for the encouragement to give more!

  • Reply
    Pam Elliott
    November 22, 2017 at 8:51 am

    Beautiful, thank you. My suffering is small compared to many, but i almost always react to it out of pride, and self-serving vanity. Your post helps me to see it in a different light and really ponder more deeply how to embrace it. I have understood the concept of offering physical suffering up, but for some reason never put it together with emotional suffering. Thank you for your beautiful, enlightening reflection!

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    November 22, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    I just went through my second miscarriage and this reflection pierced my heart. The Lord suffers when we suffer because he gave His life for us.

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