May 19, 2020frjohnma


Rev. Fr. John-MARY Benedict Ntol Atep

“Above all the graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit which Christ gives to His friends, is that of conquering oneself and willingly enduring sufferings, insults, humiliations, and hardships for the love of Christ.” – St. Francis of Assisi

Suffering is the corollary of witnessing in the Holy Spirit. An immediate example is that of Paul and Silas. While they were witnessing in the name of the Lord, they were attacked by the crowds in Philippi. But through the power of the Holy Spirit, they were delivered (Acts 16:22-34). Thus, it is not difficult to reflect on the role of the Holy Spirit in our suffering experiences as there are numerous instances in Sacred Scriptures. Meaning, as we partner with the Holy Spirit in witnessing, we should prepare for an ordeal (Sir. 2:1).

Still about suffering, there are different kinds – physical, mental/psychological, emotional and moral sufferings. There are experiences of life that could connect all or some of the kinds of suffering we have just identified. For instance, we are ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic that is a summation of all the forms of suffering. Therefore, we do not need to take for granted the outbreak and spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Yes, there are many interpretations for the coronavirus pandemic. What is your own interpretation? Other realities of suffering in our midst are mortal sins, addictions, criminal activities, illnesses, diseases, poverty, hunger, heartbreak, frustration, loneliness, grief and death.

There is a significant relationship between the Holy Spirit and suffering. Meaning, the Holy Spirit relates with human suffering. Hence, Jesus says, “But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness…” (John 16:7-8). After Jesus’ death and resurrection, His Spirit-filled disciples and followers were persecuted and murdered for righteousness’ sake (Acts 6:8-8:1). But they remained resilient because of the Holy Spirit. It just goes to show that the Holy Spirit properly embraced and allowed to inform our spiritual life, we can live in the Holy Spirit and apply what is called spiritual therapy in every suffering experience.

It is pertinent to note that suffering as a reality depends on our attitude and understanding of it and how we handle or manage it in life. For some people it may be useful and for some it may be useless. For us in the school of the Holy Spirit, the Spiritual therapy offers us the following: It begins with a simple decision of the will to see suffering as one of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22). In many biblical text, two synonyms reflect suffering as a fruit of the Holy Spirit: patience and longsuffering. Give meaning to your suffering experiences and live. To give meaning means to find or give reasons why we suffer and why we should live because of such experience. In addition, let us learn to offer our suffering in the spirit of St. Paul: “Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church” (Col. 1:24).

Reflective Questions on suffering

  1. What is your notion of suffering as one who witnesses in the Holy Spirit?
  2. How can we search for good in crisis moments like the coronavirus pandemic?
  3. How can we be resilient or go beyond resilience in our suffering experiences?
  4. How can the Holy Spirit help me to make good use of my worst situations in life?

Action Plan

St. Louis-Marie de Montfort counsels: “Whenever you receive any cross, always welcome it with humility and gratitude. And when God favours you with a cross of some importance, show your gratitude in a special way, and get others to thank him for you. Follow the example of the poor woman who lost all that she had in an unjust law-suit and immediately offered her few remaining coins to have a Mass said in thanksgiving for her good fortune.”

I am praying for you, please pray for me. Thank You!

Comments (20)

  • Eby

    May 19, 2020 at 10:07 am

    May God give us the grace to bear any cross that comes our way. Thanks my Fr for the reflection. Come O Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of the faithful

    1. frjohnma

      May 19, 2020 at 10:58 am

      Hmmmm! Thanks for your prayer and appreciation

  • Andrew Yahaya

    May 19, 2020 at 11:05 am

    If you are reproached for the name of , Christ, blessed are you, for the spirit of glory and of God rest upon you. 1st Peter 4:14 That is our consolation Fr.

    1. frjohnma

      May 19, 2020 at 10:41 pm

      Friend of the Holy Spirit, thanks!

  • Pauline Otu

    May 19, 2020 at 11:26 am

    Amen, thank you Father. May the Holy spirit of God continue to energize us during our sufferings, humiliation,torture persecutions as Christians through christ our Lord amen.

    1. frjohnma

      May 19, 2020 at 10:54 pm

      Thanks a million times

  • Juliana-Mary Ukeje

    May 19, 2020 at 1:48 pm

    Thanks a lot Father for this very encouraging quote of St. Francis of Assisi, which shows the relationship between suffering and graces & gifts of the Holy Spirit. But even more mind-blowing is the fact that we can not only transform suffering into an asset, but that we can also through it, become “co-redeemers” like St. Paul who said: ’…fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church’ (Col. 1:24). It is my prayer, especially during this pandemic era that the Holy Spirit will help us progress in our spiritual growth to the extent of seeing trial & tribulations as “good fortune“ with thanksgivings like the unjustly treated woman in St. Louis-Marie de Montfort’s counsel that you have kindly shared.

    1. frjohnma

      May 19, 2020 at 10:52 pm

      My name as you know is Gratitude!

  • Batomaria

    May 19, 2020 at 4:18 pm

    I’m praying for you, too. The Spirit has thought us the reality of suffering in the suffering and death of our Lord – that the Righteous One is not spared. So whenever I encounter one suffering or the other in the body of Christ, the same Spirit normally help me make use of this therapy: ‘I offer it up’, ‘I deserve it Lord’. And truly these ejaculations has always lighten the yoke for me! Remain blessed, Father.

    1. frjohnma

      May 19, 2020 at 10:52 pm

      Offering suffering to the Holy Spirit in union with Our Lady of sorrows. Thanks

  • Louis Mathias

    May 19, 2020 at 4:29 pm

    Suffering is part and parcel of authentic witnessing as Christians in our Spiritual life. May God help us with the grace of the Holy Spirit to bear suffering patiently for His name sake through Christ Our Lord Amen 🙏. Thanks so much for this inspiring message Fr 👍

    1. frjohnma

      May 19, 2020 at 10:51 pm

      Suffering is part and parcel of authentic witnessing as Christians in our Spiritual life. Thank you very much

  • Stanley-Mary Osegbo

    May 19, 2020 at 5:05 pm

    Thanks for your prayers and today’s wonderful topic. Wonderful because it is a means of purification and a source of merit especially when endured for the sake of Jesus and in union with His suffering. It is also one of the special gifts our Lord gives to those He has special love for.

    1. frjohnma

      May 19, 2020 at 10:50 pm

      Thanks and God bless you

  • Adaeze Okafor

    May 19, 2020 at 7:30 pm

    In one of the prayer books l read, there was a statement that surprised me “if we know the value of suffering we would ask for more” like ask for more suffering, when all we do most times in prayer is to pray against it. Holy spirit please help us. Give us the grace to accept willingly and happily all the crosses it will please God to bring our way like Paul and Silas. God bless you.

    1. frjohnma

      May 19, 2020 at 10:49 pm

      “Observe that we gain more in a single day by trials which come to us from God and our neighbours, than we would in ten years by penances and other exercises, which we take up of ourselves.” St. Teresa of Avila.

  • AndyMarie

    May 19, 2020 at 8:31 pm

    Padre, suffering is often tagged with pains or truama. Often and then it’s difficult for me as an individual to accept suffering as part of my Christian Life. However, sometimes am be compelled to take consolation in the suffering of Christ that resulted to our salvation. This informs me that if I accept my sufferings with the eye of faith and gratitude, the end result would be to glorify God in total submission to his will.
    May God grant us the Holy Spirit to always console us in our suffering.
    Ones more thanks for sharing and may God bless you too in your sufferings.

    1. frjohnma

      May 19, 2020 at 10:48 pm

      “Observe that we gain more in a single day by trials which come to us from God and our neighbours, than we would in ten years by penances and other exercises, which we take up of ourselves.” St. Teresa of Avila.

  • Clifford Yaor

    May 19, 2020 at 10:55 pm

    Comment (Required) Thank Fr. for your prayer for me, just I have been praying for you too. Suffering I know as a Catholic is part our life or part of our position, and not like our other Christians brothers and sisters do said suffering is not their position. (that’s physical suffering). In the mist of this coronavirus pandemics we strive to worship our Lord Jesus Christ, through facebook and social media like this one. May all our suffering come to end, may God begin solution to all our suffering and may it bear witness to Christ. Amen

    1. Fr. John-Mary Atep

      May 19, 2020 at 11:22 pm

      Thanks for your comments and prayer. Suffering has remain a mystery and may the Lord enlighten us with His wisdom so that we can draw spiritual power and merits from our suffering. Amen

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