“Love conquers sorrows, persecutions, difficulties. If you love God with great fidelity, it will follow that all of your actions, suffering, and affections will be marked with the Divine Seal, so that your fidelity and loving work, like a small stream, will grow in its admirable course and become a broad river.”
—Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini
from “Word of Mother Cabrini,” compiled by Sr. Fede Nemia, MSC
For a Saint known more for action than words, her words sometimes have a natural poetry that can strum the deep chords of the soul.
Suffering seems so distant from a loving God. In fact, the “question of suffering” is what drives many to abandon the notion of a loving, personal God, and fall into some hazy agnosticism of a distant, disengaged creator. They argument goes: How could a God that is defined as Love Itself allow us to suffer so frequently and to such extremes?
When I was an interfaith chaplain counseling the dying, they were often suffering a great deal. Modern medicine offered some physical relief, but not relief from the pain that abides in the soul that exists outside of our physical world. People felt their suffering was solely theirs, and was worthless to the world. Their suffering offered nothing of value to anyone, and was just something to be privately endured until the end. Yet, if we remember—as Mother Cabrini points out—that “Love conquers sorrows,” suffering then becomes not a private matter, but something that binds us to Love Itself—I.e., God. Mother Cabrini reminds us that our suffering and sorrows are marked with a Divine Seal because of our “loving work,” uniting our pain to God’s divinity, which is sovereign over the world.
Even more, we cannot see the whole portrait of our pain. We are limited to looking at one brush stroke in a masterpiece of creation. So like “a small stream,” our affections marked with the Divine Seal of love “will grow in its admirable course and become a broad river.” In our suffering, our love conquers, Love Itself conquers. Our suffering is liberated by the loving work of our lives—work that flows forward to people and places we could not, and cannot, see. Our small stream joins the small streams of all who Love, becoming together a mighty river of God’s Grace.
By Christopher Grosso, Senior Writer, Cabrini College