The Apostolate of Suffering

By Fr. Christopher Kubat 

The Catholic Medical Association gathered for their annual meeting in Dallas Sept. 19-27. The meeting was unique in that, in addition to top quality medical and scientific talks, the day also included confessions, Mass, and adoration. There was a separate side room with 24-hour Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.

More than 500 Catholic doctors and health professionals attended, along with many priest chaplains.

I was privileged to give a breakout session talk on the Apostolate of Suffering, which is a national organization based in Lincoln. It was founded by Clara Tiry in Milwaukee, Wisc. in 1926. The purpose of the apostolate is to unite all who suffer in a spiritual union, and to assure them that their lives and sufferings have meaning joined to the cross of Jesus Christ.

Members are encouraged to pray for each other and to offer their sufferings for the conversion of sinners; the salvation of the sick and dying; for holy vocations; for the success of missionary work; and for the reparation for the sins committed against the Blessed Sacrament. A Mass is offered every month for the members, and another for those who are deceased. Members also receive a quarterly newsletter.

During my presentation in Dallas, I cited two scripture passages that help us understand the redemptive nature of our sufferings joined to the cross of Christ. The first is from the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, Chapter 12. In it, St. Paul explains that we are all members of the Body of Christ; Jesus as the head and we as the members. That is why he further explained to the Colossians that when we suffer, it is Jesus suffering in His Mystical Body. This is why we can offer our sufferings for others which is a cause of joy, knowing we can help others with our sufferings because they are, in fact, Christ’s sufferings.

“Now 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” (Col 1:24).

After explaining the above, I briefly told them about my cousin, Sister Reginalda Jeffries, who said that when looking at me after my birth, God told her, “Pray for him, for he will be a priest someday.”

As it turned out, she prayed for my vocation throughout my life- even after I started my medical practice. It was only after she offered up her pain on her deathbed from her metastatic breast cancer that I left my practice and entered the seminary. She rejoiced in her sufferings for my sake and in her flesh completed what was lacking in the afflictions of Christ. Oh the power of suffering! It is a tragedy that there is so much wasted suffering in the world.

Membership is open to anyone who suffers physically, psychologically or is a caregiver of someone who is suffering. It easy to join. Simply send $10 to the Apostolate of Suffering, C/O Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska, PO Box 30425, Lincoln, NE 68503-0425.

Please always remember, our sufferings have meaning joined to the cross of Jesus Christ!

Fr. Christopher Kubat

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