Signs that God loves you ….


Saint Pope John Paul II wrote on The Christian Meaning of Suffering (1984):

“Suffering contains a special call to this virtue every person must exercise on their own part: the virtue of perseverance in bearing whatever disturbs and causes them pain. In doing this, the individual unleashes the hope which will maintain in him the conviction that suffering will not get the better of him. That it will not deprive him on dignity as a human being linked to awareness of the meaning of life.  In suffering there is a concealed power which draws the person close to Christ. When the body is gravely ill, totally incapacitated, the person is almost incapable of living and acting, all the more do interior maturity and spiritual greatness become evident …  It is suffering, more than anything else, which clears the way for grace which transforms the soul. In suffering a person discovers himself – his own humanity, his own dignity, his own mission ….”

In his letters of spiritual direction, St. Paul of the Cross saw in his sufferings seven signs that God offers to us:

1. The sign of discipleship – He wrote to Canon Coccia, which would have been based on the words of Jesus: “If you wish to be a follower of mine, go sell all you have and give to the poor, and follow me.” (10 January 1768). He wrote to Canon Raffi: “Christ suffered for us that we might follow in his footsteps.” (27 July 1773)

2. The sign that God wants to strengthen us – He wrote to Agnes Grazi: “Suffering is a sign that God wants to strengthen you. Crosses will not be wanting and the more one advances in the service of God, the more sufferings there will be.” (17 April 1734)

3. The sign of something precious – He told his own mother: “Blessed are they who suffer … they are more fortunate than the rich of this world.” (15 December 1734)

4. The sign of a call to higher perfection – Paul wrote to Maria Johanna Grazi: “I sympathise with you in your precious sufferings. Oh, Johanna Maria, if you knew the path along which God is leading you, oh, how joyful you would be! For it is the path that leads to higher perfection.”

5. The sign that God loves you so much – Paul wrote to a married woman: “Your sickness and hardships are signs that God loves you very much.”

6. The sign that God is calling us to great peace – Paul wrote to Marianna Girelli: “We need to act like a vine-dresser, when the storms come, he retires to his cabin and remains in peace. So we, in the midst of so many storms, let us stay in the golden cabin of the Divine Will.” (25 May 1768)

7. The sign that God wants to draw close to us – He wrote to Agnes Grazi: “Suffering helps us to unite more closely with God.”

 [from RETREAT IDEAS: A Resource for Passionists, Gerard Mahony, C.P. p. 89-91]


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