For many a Catholic growing up, their parents response to complaints was “Offer it up.” It is a beautiful aspect of our faith that we can take our sufferings and offer them to the Lord. But what exactly does it mean to ‘offer it up?’
Recently on The Patrick Madrid Show, a listener called wanting to know how he could go about offering his suffering to the Lord, and what benefits there were from this practice. Patrick responded:
“You know what it’s like to fast, right? You know the feeling of hunger. And you suffer a bit because when you’re fasting from food. Because your body is rebelling and saying, ‘I want some food!’ and you’re saying ‘No.’ That’s a form of suffering.
Now, you notice, even just from a physiological standpoint that you benefit by fasting. Your metabolism is strengthened, maybe you lose some pounds, maybe you lower your cholesterol. There are different benefits that can come from fasting. So even just at a physical level, we know there is benefit, purification, and strengthening of the body through fasting.
In a spiritual kind of way, when it comes to suffering in general, when we offer up our sufferings to the Lord we actually experience something similar in our souls. A purification, a greater control over our irascible or unruly passions, and we become more conformed to Jesus, who was Himself no stranger to suffering.
Let me quote you a passage from Colossians chapter 1, where St. Paul talks about this very issue. He says:
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church.
Now, it may seem strange that St. Paul is talking about how he’s filling up what is lacking. He doesn’t mean that Jesus didn’t suffer enough. What he means is that by suffering, and rejoicing in his suffering, and offering his suffering to the Lord, he is actually participating in the sufferings of Jesus. And he’s becoming more and more deeply conformed into Jesus Himself.
So, in the same way, when we offer up our sufferings to the Lord, it’s not like we’re doing something that Jesus couldn’t do or didn’t do. But rather, we’re participating with Him in that regard.
It’s meritorious in God’s eyes when we take our suffering and offer it to Him, not only for our own perfection, but also as a sacrifice for other people. It’s a very good and meritorious thing to do.”
Listen to the full conversation below:
The Patrick Madrid Show airs weekdays from 9:00 – noon Eastern/6:00 – 9:00 a.m. Pacific on Relevant Radio®