Meditations given by the Rev, Bede Jarrett, O.P., during the Novena preached in the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in preparation for the celebration of the Seventy-fifth Anniversary of the Apparitions at Lourdes, February 2nd - February 10th, 1933
Mourning and Weeping in This Valley of Tears cont
Now, is that possible to mankind? Well, we do know this, that we do meet people who are spoiled by suffering. We do meet people who are made bitter by it, almost in a frenzy, mad. We do come on people who because of it have thrown all religion to the winds, who cannot persuade themselves that there can really be a God, since He could not without interfering, watch the world suffer so. This is the problem of suffering that disturbs mankind. If you think, one by one, of the religions that come up and linger and disappear, you will find that they are nearly all connected with sorrow. Christian Scientists, the Spiritists, what are they? They are trying, by reason, to find some way out of sorrow. They will not accept it as part of human lot. You could say of this problem that the touchstone of all human character is the way it reacts upon the idea of suffering in itself and others. Man can be ennobled by suffering, can be made greater by suffering; but man can be made bitter and narrow and small by it. What is the difference, what makes this difference in human character? There is only one word, love.
Love can make sorrow acceptable — not pleasant, but bearable. With lack of love, sorrow can hardly be borne. It is possible out of love to bear suffering. We know not only that this is possible, but that it is done by everyone every day. They must take upon themselves daily some form at least of inconvenience, if they really love someone else. They will do things they dislike doing because they are asked to do them or asked to relieve someone of whom they are fond, of some trouble or pain — mothers, fathers, lovers, friends. How does love express itself, except by taking on itself something to the ease of another. Love it is that makes sorrow and trouble bearable the world over by everyone.
Now that is what God asks of us: to accept it with love. Is it possible to have pain and yet happiness? Pain and pleasure, no. Those two exclude each other. You cannot get pleasure out of pain, but you can get happiness. I remember once being called to the bedside of a woman who was in terrible pain, and she said to me, "Father, am I obliged to take morphia?” I said, "Why do you ask? Morphia is certainly allowed you.” She was dying of cancer, and at the moment when she spoke to me she was in terrible pain. She said to me, "You know my boy?” I knew him. "You know which way he has gone?” I knew. "Can I refuse morphia and offer my suffering for the boy’s salvation?” What could I say, but yes? Now she died in dreadful agony, but perfectly happy. It is not impossible. It is so. It is not impossible to die in terrible pain, to live in pain, and yet to retain your happiness. In that particular case the greater grew her pain, the greater was her happiness. By it she was carrying, so she hoped, more and more of the punishment that her boy should have carried. She, with every added pain, felt she was carrying more of his cross.