Is suffering the path to redemption?
It seems a strange question because surely Jesus suffered on the cross so that we might be redeemed but what about personal suffering? So may evangelical churches preach a health, wealth and happiness gospel, not that Christ is without joy but where is the value of redemptive suffering in this gospel, where is the place for the poor or the depressed? In the Catholic church we have the opportunity to offer up our daily sufferings for others or for ourselves and our own personal soul and spiritual journey. Not that we and Christ does not answer prayer and have compassion and heal people but there also seems to be a place for offering up suffering when we are not healed or people die for others, either so they may be healed or their souls may be saved.
There doesn’t seem to be a place for this type of redemptive suffering in some of the evangelical/prosperity churches or even an understanding of it.Padre Pio believed that the love of God was inseparable from suffering and that suffering all things for the sake of God was the way for the soul to reach God. He felt that his soul was lost in a chaotic maze, plunged into total desolation, as if he were in the deepest pit of hell. During his period of spiritual suffering, his followers believe that Padre Pio was attacked by the Devil, both physically and spiritually. His followers also believe that the Devil used diabolical tricks in order to increase Padre Pio's torments. These included apparitions as an "angel of light" and the alteration or destruction of letters to and from his spiritual directors. Padre Augustine confirmed this when he said:
The Devil appeared as young girls that danced naked with out any clothes on, as a crucifix, as a young friend of the monks, as the Spiritual Father or as the Provincial Father; as Pope Pius X, a Guardian Angel, as St. Francis and as Our Lady. Now, twenty-two days have passed, since Jesus allowed the devils to vent their anger on me. My Father, my whole body is bruised from the beatings that I have received to the present time by our enemies. Several times, they have even torn off my shirt so that they could strike my exposed flesh.
Fr. Gabriele Amorth, senior exorcist of Vatican City stated in an interview that Padre Pio was able to distinguish between real apparitions of Jesus, Mary and the Saints and the illusions created by the Devil by carefully analysing the state of his mind and the feelings produced in him during the apparitions. In one of Padre Pio's letters, he states that he remained patient in the midst of his trials because of his firm belief that Jesus, Mary, his Guardian Angel, St. Joseph and St. Francis were always with him and helped him always.
Padre Pio experienced, like many Saints and St Paul himself, great pain and suffering from his health and from his stigmata and I think mental anguish too from his superiors when they were suspicious of his stigmata, as many prophets are ostracised by their own people who don’t understand that special relationship, or don’t have, that personal intimate relationship with God that Saints and Prophets do.
The founder of Milan's Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, friar, physician and psychologist Agostino Gemelli, concluded Padre Pio was "an ignorant and self-mutilating psychopath who exploited people's credulity." In short, he was accused of infractions against all three of his monastic vows: poverty, chastity and obedience. Agostino Gemelli also speculated that Padre Pio kept his wounds open with carbolic acid. As a result of the Gemelli assessment, the wounds were wrapped in cloth. Despite this, the bleeding continued for some 50 years until they closed within hours of his death.[16
Padre Pio: “If people would only understand the value of suffering, they would not seek pleasure, but only to suffer.”