February 24, 2012
an elderly, life-long Catholic woman took a tumble,
fracturing her hip. Because of her unstable
cardiopulmonary status, surgery was out of the question.
The family was told that without surgery she would
perish, but because of her overall health she would most
likely succumb during the induction of the anesthetic
agents. Because of this, hospice was recommended.
When tragedy strikes, let us
remember that calling a Catholic priest should be at the top of the list.
Fortunately for this woman, her son is a priest and has administered the
sacraments, including the apostolic blessing. He related that before
celebrating a Mass at her bedside, knowing the answer before asking it, she
said, "Why did God allow this to happen to me?"
Her son answered her by picking up
the crucifix and showing it to her. She shook her head and said, "Yes, I
"Now I rejoice in my
sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in
Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church"
In other words, being part of the
body of Christ, Jesus the head of the Church and we the members, have the
singular privilege of joining our sufferings to those of Christ on the cross
for the benefit of others. Simply put, we can offer our sufferings for the
conversion of sinners. This is why we rejoice in our sufferings, not because
we enjoy suffering, but what we can do with them.
While visiting this woman in her
hospital room, the above-mentioned priest related this story, which happened
not long after his ordination to the priesthood. He was called to see a
woman who was told by her physician she had contracted incurable cancer. The
grief-stricken woman told him that despite having sent her children to
Catholic schools, none of them was practicing the faith. The priest was
quick to say, "Offer your sufferings for their return to the Church!" Her
mood immediately changed and she was later rewarded by their return to the
faith. She rejoiced in eternity seeing her children go to confession and
receiving Holy Communion at her funeral.
Not everyone has the luxury of
having a priest in the family as in the story described above. Perhaps that
is why Clara Tiry started the Apostolate of Suffering in 1926. It was her
wish that those who suffer would be able to unite their sufferings together
in a special way as each member united them to those of Christ’s on the
cross. Every month, a Mass is offered for members of the apostolate and
their intentions, another for deceased members and an additional one for
deceased members on All Souls Day. In addition, all members share in a
yearly novena of Masses. Members of the apostolate are also remembered in
the daily prayers of those at the national office. Members also receive the
quarterly newsletter. The yearly membership is $5 and a lifetime membership
is $20. Membership is not only limited to those who suffer from physical or
psychological difficulties but to those family and loved ones who care for
them as well.
We are blessed to have the national office of the
Apostolate of Suffering here in our diocese. Please contact us at The
Apostolate of Suffering, 2241 O Street Lincoln, NE 68510 for more
information. My prayer is that more faithful members of the mystical body of
Christ take advantage of this treasure called the Apostolate of Suffering.
Father Christopher Kubat
Catholic Social Services