Consecrating Sorrow & The Nature Of Sorrow
Redemptive suffering is the Christian belief that human suffering, when accepted and offered up in union with the Passion of Jesus, can remit the just punishment for one’s sins or for the sins of another, or for the other physical or spiritual needs of oneself or another. In Christianity, it is a tenet of Catholic theology, although it is taught in Reformed doctrine as well.
Pope John Paul II stated, “Each man, in his sufferings, can also become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ”. (cf Colossians 1:24) Like an indulgence, redemptive suffering does not gain the individual forgiveness for their sin; forgiveness results from God’s grace, freely given through Christ, which cannot be earned.(See Romans 4:3-5) After one’s sins are forgiven, the individual’s suffering can reduce the penalty due for sin.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states the following concerning redemptive suffering:
Moved by so much suffering Christ not only allows himself to be touched by the sick, but he makes their miseries his own: “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.” But he did not heal all the sick. His healings were signs of the coming of the Kingdom of God. They announced a more radical healing: the victory over sin and death through his Passover. On the cross Christ took upon himself the whole weight of evil and took away the “sin of the world,” of which illness is only a consequence. By his passion and death on the cross Christ has given a new meaning to suffering: it can henceforth configure us to him and unite us with his redemptive Passion.
Thérèse of Lisieux wrote the following about her own redemptive suffering from her deathbed:
O Mother, it’s very easy to write beautiful things about suffering, but writing is nothing, nothing! One must suffer in order to know! I really feel now that what I’ve said and written is true about everything … It’s true that I wanted to suffer much for God’s sake, and it’s true that I still desire this … All I wrote about my desires for suffering. Oh! it’s true just the same! And I am not sorry for delivering myself up to Love. Oh! no, I’m not sorry; on the contrary!
Likewise, Padre Pio said the following about the purification brought about through redemptive suffering:
“I want your soul to be purified and tried by a daily hidden martyrdom. How many times,” Jesus said to me a little while ago, “would you have abandoned me, my son, if I had not crucified you.”