In Silence and Prayer

From Robert Cardinal Sarah in The Power of Silence:

344. I had this wonderful, rich experience with Brother Vincent-Marie of the Resurrection, who belonged to the community of canons regular in Lagrasse. Stricken by multiple sclerosis, he gradually lost his faculties of speech and movement. Despite that painful situation, Brother Vincent remained serene, joyful, and patient. All our meetings unfolded in silence and prayer. God asked him to be an ongoing holocaust and a silent offering for the world’s salvation; next to my friend, I became a pupil, learning the mystery of suffering.

Watching Brother Vincent, confined to his sickbed, silently revealed to me that the most sublime expression of love is suffering. On the eve of his burial, while reading his personal journal, I discovered all the spiritual energy that nourished his interior life. Indeed, in those pages I found a very profound reflection: “I believe that suffering was granted by God to man in a great design of love and mercy. I believe that suffering is for the soul the great worker of redemption and sanctification. Listening to the Brother, I thought I was reading Saint Therésè of the Child Jesus, who wrote: “I found happiness and joy on earth, but solely in suffering, for I’ve suffered very much here below.”

Brother Vincent offers us one final secret for coping with suffering and finding joy in it. I discovered it in his personal journal. He wrote: “Every day I shut myself into a threefold castle: the first is the most pure Heart of Mary …, against all the attacks of the Evil Spirit; the second is the Heart of Jesus, against all the attacks of the flesh; the third is the holy sepulcher, where I hide myself next to Jesus from the world.”

345. The language of suffering and silence contradicts the language of the world. Faced with pain, we see two diametrically opposite routes traced out: the noble way of silence and the stony rut of rebellion, in other words, the path of love of God and the path of love of self.

346. The pathological fear of suffering and silence is particularly acute in the West. On the other hand, African and Asian cultures manifest a remarkable acceptance of pain, sickness, and death, because the prospect of a better life in the next world is profoundly present in them.

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