Many a Catholic child, when complaining to their mother, have been given the response “Offer it up.” But what does that even mean? A listener recently called in to Heart to Heart with Mother Miriam to ask her to explain this concept. Mother Miriam explained what offering up our sufferings means and how we can do it. She said:
“Jesus, when He died on the Cross, He paid once and for all for the sins of the world. We put Him to death, and His suffering was our salvation, including His Resurrection. But He has adopted us as His children, and He has made it possible for us to enter into His sufferings with Him for the salvation of the world.
The apostle Paul says, ‘I fill up that which is lacking in the sufferings of Christ.’(Colossians 1:2) Nothing is lacking in Christ’s suffering on the Cross, but He still gives us an opportunity. When people wound us, in a sense, they are also wounding Christ, and so God gives us an opportunity to share in the salvation which He won on the Cross.
And so whatever we suffer from, we can take that suffering and we can wallow in hurt, in depression, in self-pity, in anger, in revenge, in woundedness. Whatever we suffer from, we can just let it defeat us. Sometimes we live with those things for years and years. Maybe we were abused, maybe we were cheated, and it happened once but we replay it a hundred times in our lifetime, and we wind up being the wounders of ourself in a sense. And what God has done, He says, ‘Don’t suffer on your own. Give Me that suffering.’
Let’s say you were hurt by a friend, for example. You were hurt by a friend, really deeply hurt, and you can even forgive your friend, and she’s already apologized – but you’re really hurt and you can’t believe it actually happened. And you’re deeply wounded by it, and it really has changed the nature of your relationship with that person.
You could wallow in that and continue to let it wound you, or you could say, ‘Lord, I take this suffering and I am offering it to you to join with your suffering on the Cross, for the salvation of my friend, my husband, reconciliation of relationships, salvation of someone in China that I’ll never know, whatever it is. We can offer it up, join it to Christ’s sufferings on the Cross, and ask Him to use it for specific requests.
Maybe you were wounded by a friend, but you want the suffering to help a child or a spouse. So you give it to God, and you say ‘I give you this suffering, Lord, and join it to the Cross.’ Now, the wounds of whatever you’ve suffered are still there, it’s not as if it never happened. But it no longer has its power, its sting., because instead you have defeated the devil and you have put it to work for the very opposite of the purpose that it had in wounding you.
So you’re suffering, and instead of the power of sin and the enemy winning over you, you say, ‘Forget that Satan. You’ve just given me a gift to give to my Lord, to give to Christ; to use my sufferings in union with His to save that person.’ You still have the scars, you still have the effects, but it no longer controls you because you’re no longer living and wallowing in hurt, and self-pity and woundedness. You’re saying, ‘You gave me a gift, and I gave it to God. So what was woundedness can turn to power. And the enemy is defeated.’
If you don’t offer up your sufferings to God, then they’re absolutely wasted. God doesn’t cause them necessarily, but He allows them so that we now have something to offer for the salvation or healing, or restoration of others.
All you say is, ‘Lord I’m really suffering from this pain. If it pleases you to take it from me, that would be wonderful. But as long as I have it, I trust you, and I thank you for the gift that I have now to give to you for the salvation or the healing of others.’ And you can say however you wish it applied, or you can say, ‘Lord, I give it to you for however you want to use it in someone’s soul.'”
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Heart to Heart with Mother Miriam airs weekdays from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Pacific on Immaculate Heart Radio.