Suffering to Convert Sinners?

I was reading more of the personal account by Lucia regarding the events at Fatima. She talks a lot about the other little girl Jacinta. Jacinta would often talk about herself suffering for the conversion of sinners. Here are some examples:

“I’m suffering for the conversion of sinners.”

“Yes, I am [suffering]. But I offer everything for sinners, and in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

“I suffer, and I want to suffer for love of Our Lord and for sinners.”

“My God, it is as an act of reparation, and for the conversion of sinners, that we offer You all these sufferings.”

Many of her sufferings were voluntary. She would go hungry or do things she didn’t like to induce suffering.

  1. Why? Where did she get the idea that her physical suffering would convert sinners?

  2. Is this supposed to be a case of propitiation or expiation?

  3. If Catholics believe voluntary suffering converts sinners, will this not lead to asceticism and self-harm? If physical suffering helps convert sinners, shouldn’t I start cutting or whipping myself?

  4. What does she mean by “in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary”? Reparation for what and why is it to “the Immaculate Heart of Mary”?

Thank you

I am a blue army of Fatima member. I suppose you understand the value of suffering, as Christ did express. You must understand that suffering wakes you up to the reality of God’s infinite glory. Likewise, suffering on our meritorious act, approves that we can increase glory.

We can’t even imagine what it’s like, but we have been granted the fiery Holy Spirit of love to enable us to do what would otherwise be humanly impossible in this life, to purge ourselves. That is why Paul says in Colossians 1:24 something that used to baffle me, Colossians 1:24, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake.” Masochist? No. In a sense, he is the opportunist. He is the one who sees the ultimate rewards. “I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body that is the Church.”

Now does he mean that Christ died a little too quickly? He needed a few more hours? No. It means that Christ’s suffering and death must be reproduced and filled up in the Church and if some are slacking off, that means others must become more like victim-souls, willing to bear a greater burden, willing to shoulder with love, as Galatians 5 speaks about the love, “Love bears one another’s burdens.” We do that just as 1st John 5 speaks about how we can pray for others and get them back on track after their venial sins have been committed. So likewise we can suffer on behalf of others. That’s what fathers and mothers do all the time. And God calls us to do that in the supernatural family, as well, on behalf of our brothers and sisters and our spiritual children, as well. That’s what Paul takes for granted when he makes such an outlandish statement. Outlandish only for those who do not recognize the essential need for suffering.
…Christ has paid once and for all for our sin. His death is the ultimate satisfaction and price for our redemption, but His life and His death must be lived out in us. That’s why we need to pick up our cross, and we need to imitate Christ. Did you catch that? We don’t suffer because Christ’s sufferings weren’t enough. We suffer because Christ’s life must be reproduced in us. It is finished. It is accomplished, but now it must be applied. The work of the third person of the Holy Spirit is New Testament history, is personal history.

Here are some more reflections on Redemptive suffering:…-of-suffering/…suffering.html

  1. Is this supposed to be a case of propitiation or expiation?

No…she was willing to become what are called “victim souls”.

St. Paul writes that we are “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him” (Rom 8:17).

In his encyclical ‘Miserentissimus Redemptor’, Pope Pius XI elaborates on this topic: “Although the copious Redemption operated by Our Lord has superabundantly forgiven all sins, yet through that admirable disposition of Divine Wisdom, there must be completed in us what is missing in Christ’s suffering on behalf of his Body, that is, his Church (Col 1:24). We can and we must add to the homage and satisfaction (expiatory suffering) that Christ renders to God, our own homage and satisfactions on behalf of sinners.”

  1. If Catholics believe voluntary suffering converts sinners, will this not lead to asceticism and self-harm? If physical suffering helps convert sinners, shouldn’t I start cutting or whipping myself?


A victim soul is an individual who has been chosen by God to undergo physical, and sometimes spiritual, suffering beyond that of normal human experience. The victim soul willingly accepts this unique and difficult mission of offering up his or her pains for the salvation of others…Universal human experience affirms that the crosses some people bear are much heavier than our own. The pains of this life – or, to put it positively, the opportunities for redemptive suffering – are not distributed equally or even proportionately among humanity.

But you can pray the Hail Mary for the conversion of sinners…

Hail Mary,
Full of Grace,
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit
of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary,
Mother of God,
pray for us sinners now,
and at the hour of death.

There is some scriptural reference as noted, but this sounds a lot like Saint Faustina’s diaries as well.

The immaculate heart of Mary refers to the grace given by God to Mary to carry sinless Jesus. Luke 1 indicates she is full of grace. We also believe she is the woman in heaven with the crown of stars per Revelations.

All of this in the the context that Mary’s intercession, as His mother, can lead us closer to Jesus. She is not above Jesus but has a special role on earth and in heaven. She knows her Son, and per the visions at Fatima, which are not required Catholic beliefs, we have offended him much.

Then again, Faustina said that Jesus said He has an ocean of mercy for us.

Thank you for the responses. That helps explain it.

Oh, and suffering doesn’t mean you hurt yourself. Everyone suffers in some capacity, but redemptive suffering means you unite it (eg. In prayer ) to Jesus and his suffering on the cross.

Essentially, you say - Jesus I accept your will for me, and whatever I am suffering I will accept as you accepted your suffering. Please take my suffering and use it as a penance for others, as you did for us on the cross.

This doesn’t mean you can’t pray for help, but you accept God’s wil either way and use suffering to help the soul of others.

Paul indicated that God can use us as his instruments. 2 Timothy 2 and Acts 9 reflect this.

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