There can be times, even in the midst of faith, where the world seems so dark. Where everyone you love seems to be struggling with a battle you cannot understand. Where the news is one story after another of a shooting, natural disaster, or political battle.
How can we help? How can we help the least of these, those who are struggling, those with hearts so heavy to carry?
Com-passion. Co, meaning “with”, and passion, meaning “suffer’.
To suffer with.
Something my theology teacher shared with my class recently: “True friendship means sharing in their life. Sharing in their highs and their joys, but also sharing in their lows- that aways their joys are multiplied and their sorrows are divided.”
No one is called to walk alone. Why was Eve created? To walk with Adam, to be his partner. In marriage, a couple is called to love one another through “sickness and health, good times and difficult times”. Jesus came to us as man to live through the crazy joys and the immense pains.
So are we. So are we called to walk with our friends into deep, messy places. When we walk through with them- when we help carry their crosses- the pain is easier to bear.
So here are a couple pointers on how to “suffer with.”
1. Know you are NOT their Savior.
“Maddie, know that you are, and never will be, their Savior. You cannot fix them.”
This is something a spiritual mentor of mine has to remind me of over and over and over. I just want to fix things so bad… I want everything to be perfect and happy so much that I will give more than I can give in order to bring the slightest of joy…then I find my heart is left more heavy when I realize that did not work.
You cannot save them. That is not your job. That is the job of Jesus Christ- the God made man to save. Let Him take their hearts and fix them. He knows far more than you- did you create the human heart? Did you lower yourself to the absolute depths of human suffering? Did you rise above death?
No. So let the Man who did do his job.
2. Offer up their hearts to Him (because He knows better than I)
Although the above paragraph may seem a little shocking and to the point- it should be a relief. No matter how hard you try, you cannot fix them because you were not created to! BUT you were created to walk with them.
Give it all to God. Give it to the One who knows best. In offering up their hearts to God, you release all control. And ohhhh yeas I SAW YOU I SAW YOU RIGHT THERE you squirmed a little bit, didn’t you! You looked away from the screen and bit your lip because WE LIKE CONTROL. I love control. It’s so hard for me to not pick up the things I left right at God’s feet.
But let’s say this together:
You are God. I am not.
You are God. I am not.
You are God. I am not.
Who are we to keep their hearts to ourselves? Who are we to believe that we can do more than He?
My friends- selfless love is offering up their hearts to the One who made it. Run to the foot of the cross and release their hearts to suffering Jesus and leave it there. Ask God what He wants you to do to help them…but also release all control. He is God. You are not.
3. Intercessory Prayer
I think something Catholics are pretty good at (if I do say so myself) is intercessory prayer. ITS POWERFUL MAN you have so many tried and true holy men and women of God PRAYING FOR YOUR INTENTION. THEY MADE IT, they’ve walked the walk and now they are reaping the awards in Heaven and they want to spend it helping us (+ and our friends) get there too. THATS INCREDIBLE and I know I need to pray through intercessory prayer more often.
So when your friend asks you to pray for something, ask them who their patron saint is. Or look up the patron saint of the certain struggle they are going through. When a natural disaster happens, offer up those prayers through the intercession of _____.
I may be partial, but I know many would agree that Mary is the most powerful intercessor. After all, she is the Mother of Jesus. She has so many names under her belt to pray through. In her perfect nature, she arranges our petitions and gently lays them at the feet of her Son.
Who doesn’t want more help? Take your prayers through the greats. They got you.
St. Joseph of Cupertino: Patron Saint of Test-Takers
St. Jude: Patron Saint of Impossible Causes
St. Dymphna: Patron Saint of Mental Illness
St. Peregrine: Patron Saint of Cancer
St. Maximillian Kolbe: Patron Saint of Addictions
St. Rita of Cascia: Patron Saint of Martial Issues
***NOTE: This is part one of a two part series. Look out for the second post within the coming month.