Love and Vulnerability

Turn to any page of the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska and you find spiritual gems. Like this one:

As I continued Vespers, meditating on this mixture of suffering and grace, I heard the voice of Our Lady: Know, My daughter, that although I was raised to the dignity of Mother of God, seven swords of pain pierced My heart. Don't do anything to defend yourself; bear everything with humility; God Himself will defend you. (786)

Though God has exalted Mary more than any person He ever created, He also allowed her to suffer more than anyone He ever created. Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman says that the Blessed Virgin Mary can be called "Queen of Martyrs," even though she wasn't technically martyred, because of the immense amount of suffering she bore in her soul. He said, "[T]he pains of the soul may be as fierce as those of the body. Bad men who are now in hell, and the elect of God who are in purgatory, are suffering only in their souls, for their bodies are still in the dust; yet how severe is that suffering!"(Meditations On The Litany of Loreto For The Month of May)

Christ bore the pain of all the sins of the world, and no one united themselves more closely to Christ's suffering than Mary. She exchanged a great amount of suffering for an even greater amount of love.

Now, love demands sacrifice. No one has loved anyone without sacrificing for them. A husband and wife express their love for one another by sacrificing their individual lives to live in unity with one another. Parents express their love for their children by giving themselves away to provide and care for them. A soldier expresses his love for his country when he hands his life over to the service. Love requires gift of self, like Mary's complete gift of herself to God the Father. Out of love for Him, she made herself completely vulnerable to do whatever He asked of her.

In the Diary passage quoted above, Mary tells St. Faustina to never defend herself, but to let God defend her. Of course, not defending oneself opens one up to the potential for much pain. But true love of God, true sacrifice demands this kind of vulnerability. Only by sacrificing oneself completely to the Lord do we allow Him to work entirely on our behalf.

When God works entirely on our behalf, we may suffer more than most, similar to Mary. But like Mary, we will love more than most, and experience God's love more than most. So much so that we will no longer consider suffering something to avoid, but a great gift of God.

Mary says to us: Do not fear suffering. Trust in the Father, that He knows what He is doing. Seek His will as best you can, and wait patiently as He proves His unfathomable love for you.

My prayer: Mary, help me not to be afraid. Let me remember that as soon as I start to fear suffering, I am already suffering. Instead, fill me with the knowledge of your sweetness and obtain for me the graces I need to persevere as I strive to love the Lord with all my heart.

View the previous Discovering the Diary.


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