“As Nothing Compared with the Glory”

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the current archbishop of New York, tells a story from his first Lent as a newly ordained associate priest in a small Missouri parish. The president of their church’s men’s group told him unenthusiastically, “Father, you’re supposed to give us an evening of recollection in Lent.” So Fr. Tim, on fire to share the treasures of our Faith, worked earnestly for weeks preparing spiritual reflections about characters appearing in the Stations of the Cross. The big night for his men’s talk came. He opened the church doors early for all those who would be coming — and just two guys showed up. Fr. Tim gave his talk anyway, of course, but the young priest was crestfallen, crushed. When he returned to the rectory, his pastor said, “Oh, I should have told you those never work.” All of his devoted time and effort seemed wasted.

Twelve years later, the same Fr. Timothy Dolan was visiting a woman in the parish who was dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was amazed at how tenderly her elderly husband was taking care of her, staying by her side and helping her with everything. As he was being walked to the door to leave, Father told the husband how much he admired his devotion to his wife. The man replied “Oh, Father, I’m just trying to be that Simon of Cyrene you talked about.” Father Dolan looked at him confused. “Remember that Lenten evening of recollection when you told us that just as Simon of Cyrene helped our Lord carry His cross, we do the same every time we help somebody else carry theirs? I’m just trying to help Ramona carry hers.

I first read about this story as a seminarian and it has stuck with me ever since. It’s a story of suffering. Granted, the young priest’s suffering was not so great as having a terminal disease or accompanying a dying loved one, but it was an experience of suffering whose value — though invisible at the time — was later wonderfully revealed. What Fr. Dolan had sown in painful labor and imagined to have been worthless toil proved beautifully precious and important. As one of the psalms say:

They go out, they go out, full of tears,
carrying seed for the sowing:
they come back, they come back, full of song,
carrying their [harvest] sheaves.

All suffering is painful, but any sort of suffering is worse when we think it has no meaning and all suffering is made easier when we know that it has worth. I speak of all this because of St. Paul’s words to the Romans in our second reading today: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” The sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.

Nobody likes suffering, but we all experience it in various ways regardless. We suffer from uncertainties and misunderstandings, from tribulations and persecutions, from worldly anxieties and temptations, but the saints tell us trials of suffering are rich soil which bear fruit manyfold for ourselves and others. St. Vincent de Paul declares, “If we only knew the precious treasure hidden in infirmities, we would receive them with the same joy with which we receive the greatest benefits, and we would bear them without ever complaining or showing signs of weariness.” In light of divine justice, St. Mary Magdalen de’Pazzi assures us, “You will be consoled according to the greatness of your sorrow and affliction; the greater the suffering, the greater will be the reward.” And St. Teresa of Avila encourages us, “Suffering is a great favor. Remember that everything soon comes to an end… and take courage. Think of how our gain is eternal.”

Sometimes God permits or sends sufferings for correction, that sinners may repent and be saved. But other times, sufferings are given in order to further purify, perfect, and glorify his friends. As St. Ignatius Loyola says, “If God sends you many sufferings, it is a sign that He has great plans for you and certainly wants to make you a saint.” St. Faustina Kowalska notes, “Suffering is a great grace; [for] through suffering the soul becomes like the Savior; in suffering love becomes crystallised; the greater the suffering, the purer the love.” And St. Augustine of Hippo observes truly, “God had one son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering.”

It was through the innocent suffering of his Passion that Jesus offered the sacrifice which converts hearts, forgives sins, and achieves Christ’s greatest earthly glory. Do you believe in the power of the Cross to save you? Then believe in the power of your own sufferings — lovingly endured and patiently offered up — to perfect you, save souls, and achieve your greatest glory.

3 Responses to ““As Nothing Compared with the Glory””

  1. pussywillowpress Says:

    Beautifully put :)!

  2. Barbara Sippy Says:

    👍💖🙏

  3. Gerald Reiner Says:

    Suffering is always a spiritual opportunity. Can’t have one without the other.

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