This is the first of a multi-part presentation on the largest single topic in the Spiritual Diary, viz., Embracing Suffering. We take a quick look at just a few stunning statements in the Diary in this regard but realize we need to establish a foundation and context before this discussion on suffering will make sense. That foundation is a proper understanding of love. We look at ways we misunderstand love and contrast God's love and human love to show how our human love is entirely inadequate for the eternity and forgiveness of Heaven. We examine the impossibility of living this way without the miracle of salvation and briefly explore how this miracle happens by the action of the Holy Spirit. We conclude this first portion with the statement that Love, Freedom, and Suffering are inseparable and that, for love to be perfect it must be perfectly free and the freedom of love is built in the crucible of suffering.
In this second presentation on Embracing Suffering as an element of devotion to the Flame of Love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we review the understanding of love and the difference between God's love and human love we discussed last week. We then look at the stages of Christian growth and how we normally grow very slowly through them, e.g,. from Relational Christianity to Transformational Christianity then to Purgative Christianity followed Illuminative Christianity and note that the Flame of Love Devotion puts us on a rocket ride all the way to Purgative Christianity. We showed how the experience of purging our lives of all self, of completely pouring them out in practice, not knowledge, leads us to finally see as God sees.
We came to see that suffering is an essential part of God's plan and undertook to understand why from the scriptures and the Spiritual Diary. We discussed suffering as a gift and our need to seek out suffering and sacrifices. We saw this not just from the Diary but from Saint Paul's letter to the Philippians.
In this presentation, we briefly reviewed the last two presentations on this topic of embracing suffering to set the context. We then proceeded to discuss the relationship between embracing suffering and grace. We explored how grace enables us to embrace our sufferings with joy. We discussed how a lack of humility blinds us to the value of suffering while love and humility unlock its meaning.
In this presentation, we review the relationship between grace, embracing suffering, humility, and love covered in our last presentation. We then discussed how we do not suffer as an end but as a means. We suffer in love:
We mentioned how, if that seems strange, we are likely thinking as humans and not as God. Finally, we examined how and why suffering dramatically increases our growth in grace.
In this final presentation on embracing suffering as part of the Flame of Love Devotion, we quickly recap the previous sessions and continue by examining the value of sufferings as expressed by Jesus to Elizabeth Kindelmann in the Spiritual Diary. We see how it is not an optional part of the devotion but essential for achieving the goals of the devotion and is how we partake in Jesus' work of redemption. We next explore the parallels between this message to Elizabeth and Saint John of the Cross' Ascent to Mount Carmel and consider what this path to great grace looks like. This leads to the topic of Spiritual Detachment.
We then move to a description of what it is like when we arrive at a state of great grace, of how it becomes our nature to pour ourselves out for others in a living or white martyrdom. We see that the perfection of love through suffering becomes our desire. We see this from both the Diary and Saint Teresa of Avila's description of such a state in The Interior Castle. We note that this must always be our free choice and see that this life of embracing suffering is our life from now on but that this leads not to morbidity but great joy. We conclude by reiterating that, for love to be perfect, it must be perfectly free, and the freedom of love is forged in the crucible of suffering — that we joyfully let Jesus live His redemptive life in us.
We suggest you begin here:
Foundations of Bible Study