Benefits of Persecution

Last night on EWTN, Penny and Bob Lord gave precious insights into the life of St. Bernadette, to whom appeared Our Lady of Lourdes.

What I was not aware of was the persecution that was constantly showered upon St. Bernadette by her religious superior while she was in the convent. Apparently, it made her a saint, in spite of suffering these onslaughts. Has anyone here been the beneficiary of this type of abuse and found that it actually strengthened them in virtue?

Someone questioned in this section why God permits the devil to attack us, but I see it as an exceptionally wonderful way to grow spiritually. Not only that, but the very sufferings these abusers cause, if accepted in charity and offered for them, may well be the means of their conversion.

I recall reading about similar persecutions upon St. Faustina and a few others. Any insights?

Wow, I’ve never heard of the persecution in the convent, and I’ve been a “fan” of St. Bernadette almost all of my life.

My own persecution? I really haven’t had too much. Maybe just a little bit from people who don’t understand my faith and my wanting to be involved in the Church as much as I am. Does it make me stronger? I really don’t know. I guess it’s hard to say looking at the situation when you are in the middle of it. I guess if my faith passes the test of time, and begins to bear some fruit, then, yes, I can say it has strenghtened me. Sometimes you just don’t see the fruit until the final harvest, I guess.:slight_smile:

I never heard of it until last night, either, Mommy. It was a real surprise, but these two presenters seem to know their material, for they go on location and get facts that aren’t always in the books.

I vaguely remember St. Therese skipping lightly over some problems in her book that were no doubt a constant source of pain from some in her community. Her charity was such that she did not elaborate, but some of it has leaked out, notably from Fr. Jacques Daly. He gave a lengthly series on her life on EWTN and also was a guest speaker to our community We were privileged to see his slides and learned things that would not be found in her book. Like Bob & Penny, he also spent a lot of time in the Carmelite monastery at Lisieux.

Maybe the strength comes from being founded on rock, so that when the storms come, the house still stands strong. Somehow, there comes a quiet peace in all of it, and one no longer fears the storms.

I remember reading an awesome statement made by Hannah Hurnard in one of her books, for she was a missionary in the midst of a war zone. Someone commented to her of their amazement that she was able to sleep soundly while bombs were going off nearby.

Most of the saints underwent persecution and opposition in varying degrees. I was just reading about Sts Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross - they underwent an amazing amount.

This is certainly true for those gifted with visions such as Margaret Mary Alacoque (of the Sacred Heart devotion), Faustina (of the Divine Mercy) and a lot of the Marian visionaries, including Bernadette.

It’s an example of the scripture verse ‘to whom much is given, of him much will be expected’ :yup:

I’d like to add St. Faustina to the list who was suffered for the Lord in the convent by other sisters. Reading her diary will let you know how she brought her suffering to Jesus.

Thanks everyone,

It is so good to be familiar with our saints. In watching the homily at Sat. EWTN’s mass, Father spoke about St. Hilary who was later raised to become Doctor of the Church. It seems he was so intent on diffusing the errors of Arianism, that Constantine exiled him — in other words, get rid of anyone who becomes a thorn in one’s side. Yet in exile, Father said he wrote the most eminent article on the Trinity that is still used in the Church today.

I love these stories — keep them comin’ :stuck_out_tongue:

In mentioning St. John of the Cross, Lily, I remember that his magnificent poem, Spiritual Canticle, was written while he was imprisoned. How wonderfully God uses persecution! It is His choice gift, so it seems.

And how unbeknown to St. Paul, his letters written while he was imprisoned, are read worldwide today. WOW!

Water,

I did see that part of her diary, and I just couldn’t imagine how this beautiful saint suffered from her sisters. I guess it happens though, for we see the pattern in so many holy ones. God keeps them undercover until after their death, and then magnifies their holiness for all the world to praise Him. How is it that their closest associates fail to recognize Christ in them? Really a mystery to me. Any ideas?

Pondering upon the benefit of persecution or suffering, the following two Bible verses came to mind:

**“Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered;” (Hebrew 5:6)

“We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)**

Our God is the expert of creating good out of bad. Just like Hebrew 5:6 said about Jesus, the saints were molded with humility, patience, perseverance, obedience, and other virtues through persecutions.

As for why the Christ in the Saints was not recognized by their peers, I think that is to do with the human weakness and sinfulness in all of us. How often do we forget that Christ is in everyone we encounter?

Hello InLight,

We haven’t shared thoughts in awhile — it is good to see you again. :slight_smile:

Our God is the expert of creating good out of bad. Just like Hebrew 5:6 said about Jesus, the saints were molded with humility, patience, perseverance, obedience, and other virtues through persecutions.

You are very right and it is a truth that I love to read over and again.
Last night was one of those times when sleep was finished at 2 a.m. :frowning: Luckily, I have a small TV in my bedroom, and by chance I found a program that was speaking about Joseph in the O.T. We all know the incredible good that God brought from the evil designs of his brothers. He was magnanimous in telling them that God meant his persecution for good, and he held no vengence against them. Doncha love it?

Joysong:

It is always good to see you and that elegant red rose online.
You gave an excellent example of the benefit of persecution from Joseph’s story.

Looking back on my own journey, there is no way to deny the benefit of hardships that have helped me mature. I think that’s the reason of always giving thanks to God. We don’s ask for suffering or hardship. But when they unavoidably appeared, if we have the right attitude of allowing God to work, we will always receive God’s grace and benefit from the experience. That is what we call “making the most of it”.

Hope all is well with you. God bless!:slight_smile:

St. Bernadette is my favorite saint, probably because I’m so unlike her, but would love to have her virtues.

I visited Lourdes France and Nevers, where Bernadette body lies uncorrupted. She is beautiful!

It is thought that the nun that gave Bernadette the hard time while she was in the convent at Nevers, was probably mentally ill. It sometimes happened in those days that people in cloisters, would go through some mental disorders, and would become a cross for those who they were superiors over.

St. Theresa the Little Flower also went through some hard times with her Superior.

It is also thought that Bernadette, maintained her “Baptismal Innocence,” that is, she never sinned after the stain of original sin was removed in her Baptism.
Based on my study of her life, I find this to be very credible.

Jim

Hi Carole . . . long time no talk!

I’ll try and answer this as delicately as I can . . .

I have a business partner who’s notorious for making very public, personal attacks - kind of in the vein of The Donald and Rosie. :slight_smile: Circumstances are such that I will likely be joined to the hip with this particular individual until the day I retire. Nevertheless, it has been so bad at times that on several occassions I nearly walked away from my company . . . that I founded!

It’s very interesting to me to see the evolution of my thought on all of this . . . and it confirms in my mind how God strengthens us in virtue sufficient for the circumstances we find ourselves.

For years, my natural reaction was to fight back against this individual. Then, I began to view him as the “disagreeable nun” in St. Therese’s life. More recently, I’ve begun to “see” that, rather than flee from or fight this individual or simply try and make nice, I am to strap him to my back as I try and slog my own way to heaven. We were put together for a reason . . . and it isn’t necessarily business related.

I’m sure we all have stories like this.

Hope all is well :slight_smile:
Dave

Dear Dave and Jim,

What light the two of you bring to all of us! It is such an uplifting source of strength to read your posts. We need one another’s witness and sharing for those times that are a terrible thorn in our spirit.

Dave, I have to admit to an awful trial in my church several years ago, and I prayed exceedingly much for this person, trying hard not to react. One evening I received a most precious gift of grace when God allowed me to visualize what might be a fitting punishment to send her. Suddenly I felt a horror that she could be inflicted in any way, and the love of Christ swept over me for her. I found that I was begging God to spare her and shower her with His grace. After that intellectual gift of prayer, I could never feel anything but love for her, and was able to accept all of her continuing acts of injury towards me.

What did happen a few months later, the pastor asked her to resign after having served there almost 20 years! I always remember this incident as having been vindicated without doing a thing to bring it about. Remember, Dave, St. Teresa’s words about not excusing oneself? Vengence is MINE says the Lord. Meanwhile throughout the trial, God brings us into the realms of deeper charity and grace that are more precious than we can possible imagine.

While I do empathize with you, on the other hand, I know that you are very close to God and this will all turn out for your greater benefit. I would love to be around to see How God does this! Thanks for sharing, and I will certainly help you with my prayers. It is good to let others know when we need prayer support. Believing our friends are strong, we often fail to remember them and lift them up.

My best to both of you,
Carole

Hi Carole

Lovely post. The enemy would like for us to hate each other and lead us to believe that we are enemies of each other when infact we have only one enemy, satan.

After a long hard road I have learnt to say a short prayer ‘Lord Bless ‘Fred (or whoever the person may be and I ask God to bless me too if I have caused any injury)’ Amen’ I say this prayer whenever there is a situation that appears to be one of conflict of any kind, whether persecuted, whether arguments, whether tempted to think badly of another etc etc. Then the blessings flood in from God and peace comes where before there was disturbance. It may take a day, it may take a month, it may take a year, it may take ten years and so on, but peace comes and God heals everything and the enemy is defeated. I have learnt to sometimes sit back and do nothing except pray this prayer and God’s grace and work unfolds before my eyes. Sometimes it is necessary to make a stand in faith especially to stand up for Jesus and the faith. But in matters of personal honour it is best not to defend oneself, but to ride the wave and not worry about the storm because God will defend and vindicate His Children.

It also helps to practise detachment even from people so that their actions or words do not disturb the peace in the soul even if our hearts are hurting and we can keep a balanced approach to all brothers and sisters keeping order in all relationships loving without self by our only attachment being to God.

DBT I will keep you and the other man in my prayers.

Jim,

That is an interesting bit of news regarding the mental illness of the superior who abused St. Bernadette. As you know, In Carmel, we elect our officers, so it is hard for me to understand how this woman became Mother Superior? Do you think her illness was not discovered until years afterwards? Also in Carmel, the elections are not for long periods of time, and an unsuitable person can be removed from office through a new election. Do you think her behavior towards Bernadette was so secret that the others never noticed?

Kind of puzzling, so if you are able to shed any light, I would appreciate it.

Hi Blessedstar,

Then the blessings flood in from God and peace comes where before there was disturbance. It may take a day, it may take a month, it may take a year, it may take ten years and so on, but peace comes and God heals everything and the enemy is defeated.

How wise you are in the ways of God! Yes, yes! The billows of peace that flood one’s spirit … So precious, and yet who would believe it was possible unless they experienced it? I used to read in scripture how the apostles in prison “rejoiced” exceedingly that they were able to suffer something for God. I would scratch my head in wonder and say to myself, “no way!” :stuck_out_tongue: That is a greater miracle than healing of the body!

After a long hard road I have learnt to say a short prayer

I thought I should emphacize this for the benefit of those who do not think this is possible, yet what I think we are saying is that after a long hard road of struggle and persecution, we do OVERCOME with God’s help. No, it is not easy, but it is one of His blessings in disguise.

Some of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s first words spoken to Bernadette, “I do not promise to make you happy in this world but in the next.”

Some truths may be hard at first…but they can get easier.

I’m not wise, this is God’s Wisdom imparted to men, without Jesus’ Revelation and the Church I wouldn’t know anything and besides I have a great and very holy Priest who gives me the good word and the right direction ! :smiley:

I know I keep saying it, but…

**No Cross, no crown. **

It’s just that when the cross is upon us we find it hard to rejoice, still I hope and pray every day that I grow to love the cross more and more because without the cross I cannot enter by the narrow gate. The Cross is God’s greatest gift to us, even in the little martyrdom of the prayer of daily life and self-giving.

Love to you always Carole and thank you for your Christmas message and I’m very sorry that I have not replied to your email .

Hugs and God Bless you and yours

Thanks M-Dent,

Thanks for the link. Some of the things within the article brought back memories that not only did she face problems from her Superior, but also the townspeople and her parish priest. Wow, no wonder she had so much strength by the time she arrived in the convent … she was bathed in continuous opportunities to struggle! Spiritual muscles galore, huh?

I have to tell all of you what a joy it is to come here and read your messages. I am so blessed by your warmth and charity, and after a difficult week, it was such a gift to find a rainbow! :smiley:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.