Lourdes Interpreted by the Salve Regina Part 15.

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

The least action of Our Blessed Lord would have been sufficient to have redeemed all mankind. He was God, and His least action was an action of infinite obedience and love of His Father. His suffering was not imposed on Him by divine justice, but it was deliberately chosen. He chose that way. He chose it and so fulfilled the richest way of generosity. The justice of God would have been content with the least; that would satisfy it; the generosity of God would be content only with the most it could give: "Greater love than this no man hath, that he lay down his life.” He is going to do the greatest; He is going to lay down His life for mankind, but deliberately, of set purpose, knowing what He has chosen. He could have chosen an easy way, a comfortable way. He could have chosen a way protected from evil and hurt. That is not the way He did choose. He chose deliberately a way of sorrow, and then He says to us, "Follow Me.” But He does not mean by that so much, in our case, that we should deliberately choose sorrow — He loves us too much to leave it to the choice of our own will. He will give sorrow. He will give us a hard life, and in proportion to His love, that is, in proportion to the respect He has for the depth and capacity of our love, in that proportion He will give us hardship. He will set us in places of difficulty and sorrow. He will not leave our sorrows to our choosing. All that He asks of us is acceptance of His choice. He chooses; we are not asked to choose. We are asked to accept what He gives us, and He knows exactly how to treat us according to the greatness of our power of endurance. No one is tried beyond his power. No one is accurate who says, "I am asked to bear too much.” God knows what you can bear, and God will never test you beyond your power of endurance. He will test your power of endurance. But why does He test us? Surely already He knows? He tests us to bring out our best capacity, not Himself to know it. What does He ask of us ? Acceptance, that is all.

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.