"Offering up" suffering?

Dumb question: what does it mean to “offer up” one’s suffering? Practically speaking as well. Do you just tell God that’s what you’re doing?

Jesus suffered for us, and through His suffering and death, he paid the price for our sin. Therefore suffering is useful if we make it so.

The way I see it, there are two ways to offer suffering:

  1. Penance. This is deliberately doing something hard or uncomfortable and telling God that you offer any merit from your action for (insert your intention here). Penances include prayers, fasting, walking barefoot up a hill, doing your housework without grumbling (yes, you can offer your housework).

  2. Enduring hardship without initiating it. For example, if you have a headache, you can offer that, and then go take paracetamol to try and get rid of it. To offer that, you say, “Lord I offer up this headache, that my suffering may be used for (insert intention here)”.

Intentions can be varied - you might offer things for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, that their punishment be reduced and they reach Heaven sooner. You might offer things for those who have nobody to pray for them, or for those considering abortion or for any other particular thing that is close to your heart. You could even offer it for a person you know who needs help or guidance or healing.

The other cool thing is that if your intention does not need any more prayers, for example if you offer it for a particular person who died, and that person is already in Heaven, your offering will not go to waste, but God can still make use of it. And the more you offer, the holier you can become, so do it even for teensy little things.

Sufferings may be tolerated, suffered with despair or offered to God in union of the suffering of Jesus Christ, which renders them infinite.


And that means you try to bear it cheerfully, without letting it off on the people around you or even letting them know in some cases


I like it. I thought fasting would be good to help someone be more humble, but never thought that the actual act of fasting could be offered to God like a form of prayer.

However in doing so is trying to make a sacrifice or offering to God wrong? or is it ok? I only ask because I once was told we cant make sacrifices to God… Anyone work out this confusion for me?


I’ve never heard that we can’t make sacrifices to God. Perhaps that means blood sacrifices? I have heard that any sacrifice we make would be imperfect, because we are not perfect in our sinful state, but that doesn’t mean there is no merit in offering hardship to God. It is by His grace that these things can be useful. I do recall something about uniting our suffering with Jesus’ sacrifice to make it more worthy, but can’t remember how that went.

On the fasting thing, I also understand that to deny one’s flesh can strengthen one’s soul. In our fallen state our flesh seems to have more influence, thus our tendency towards earthly pleasures, but if we deliberately deny our bodies comfort, we give our spirit (soul? I get confused) a chance to grow and become a little more dominant. I see therefore a twofold benefit in fasting - our own betterment, and merits for our intentions.

I probably should practice what I preach a bit more, though. :blush:

Ahh that makes sense, yes Im thinking I heard anything we offer is imperfect. Thanks for clearing that up for me :slight_smile:

Thank you all so much! :hug1:

Thanks to you, David, for that great question! :hug1:

Sometimes I want to compile all the wisdom I get here in a Word doc or something. This forum has been immensely helpful.


That can be a start to learning how to do it. God can then sort of teach you from there.

Its like the difference between doing something with love and doing something as a chore. You focus on it, you put your heart into it, you do you’re best.

To offer up suffering or really anything you’re going through (You can offer up joy too), is to turn your experience into a prayer. You accept, you embrace, and you find unity with God in it (unless you’re going through the Dark Knight of the Soul).

I don’t think we need to attach an intention always to our suffers nor to all our prayers. Sometimes prayer is just good to express your love to God and to let Him do with it what He will. In the end its not about paying God dues for favors from God. It is making a complete offering of yourself to God. Since handing over our entire self to God is not easy, we tend to do this bit by bit. Offering up sufferings is a part of this.

Perhaps this will help: concernedcatholics.org/suffering.htm

Here are a couple of quotes from St. Josemaria (escrivaworks.org/)
The Forge
760http://www.escrivaworks.org/images/misc/pixtrans.gifThe cheerful love that fills the soul with happiness is founded on suffering. There is no love without renunciation.

761http://www.escrivaworks.org/images/misc/pixtrans.gifChrist is nailed to the Cross. And you?.. Still taken up with your whims and fancies — or rather, nailed by them!

762http://www.escrivaworks.org/images/misc/pixtrans.gifWe cannot, must not, be sugar-candy Christians: on earth there must be suffering and the Cross.

http://www.escrivaworks.org/images/misc/pixtrans.gif784http://www.escrivaworks.org/images/misc/pixtrans.gifIt is not the spirit of penance to do great mortifications some days, and nothing on others.

—The spirit of penance means knowing how to overcome yourself every single day, offering up both great and small things for love, without putting on show.

785http://www.escrivaworks.org/images/misc/pixtrans.gifIf we join our own little things, those insignificant or big difficulties of ours, to the great sufferings of Our Lord, the Victim (He is the only Victim!), their value will increase. They will become a treasure, and then we will take up the Cross of Christ gladly and with style.

—And then every suffering will soon be overcome: nobody, nothing at all, will be able to take away our peace and our joy.

791http://www.escrivaworks.org/images/misc/pixtrans.gifWhen you are ill, offer up your sufferings with love, and they will turn into incense rising up in God’s honour, and making you holy.

813http://www.escrivaworks.org/images/misc/pixtrans.gifGod loves us infinitely more than you love yourself… So let him make demands on you!

Great way to put it.

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