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Add your sufferings to His

“Offer it up!”  That’s a saying that’s perhaps not nearly as common now as it once was, but even now is met most often with quizzical looks or even downright derision.  I have to admit as a Catholic convert the concept of “offering my suffering to Christ” or “joining it to His suffering on the cross” never quite made a whole lot of sense to me.  It was one of those topics where the term “assent of faith” really played out – I could grasp the basic concept behind it – kind of – but understanding how it works, well, that was a whole different question.  How, after all, could my minor – indeed finite – suffering help or add to His infinite suffering during His Passion?  Even as I would pray, “Lord I offer you this suffering” I would hear in my mind, “however that works”.  There’s nothing quite like cutting off your own prayer right at the knees…

One step in the direction of understanding is the quote from Saint Augustine, “God created us without us: but he did not will to save us without us.”  Yet that only goes so far – there’s some amount of “what” but not a whole lot of “how” and no “why” at all.

One day some time ago I received a CD in the mail from Wyoming Catholic College containing their Stations of the Cross with meditations by Blessed John Henry Newman.  His reflection on the Fifth Station, wherein Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry his Cross, has struck a deep cord within me and perhaps, I hope, might help others to better understand what is meant when that dear old phrase “offer it up” comes your way again.

Jesus could bear His Cross alone, did He so will; but He permits Simon to help Him, in order to remind us that we must take part in His sufferings, and have a fellowship in His work. His merit is infinite, yet He condescends to let His people add their merit to it. The sanctity of the Blessed Virgin, the blood of the Martyrs, the prayers and penances of the Saints, the good deeds of all the faithful, take part in that work which, nevertheless, is perfect without them. He saves us by His blood, but it is through and with ourselves that He saves us. Dear Lord, teach us to suffer with Thee, make it pleasant to us to suffer for Thy sake, and sanctify all our sufferings by the merits of Thy own.


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