By reading the writings of Luisa, especially in the period of Lent, and meditating on the Passion of Christ, I believe that for those who want to know and follow Jesus it is essential to follow the path of suffering, the Way of the Cross, and that there is no true spirituality without the profound experience of suffering. Spirituality is not an oasis of well-being, a medicine that quickly cures our human need to feel good. Faith is not the peaceful solution to pain, or its remedy. To follow Jesus is to know the meaning of suffering even to accepting and wanting it.
Suffering is a terrible thing for the existence of human beings on earth. It makes life miserable and brings man face to face with nothingness, because in itself suffering is nonsense. But it is nonsense only if devoid of purpose, like everything else in life. Jesus reveals to Luisa exactly the purpose of His suffering, of all the evil that He suffered during his last twenty-four hours of life before dying on the Cross. There is no suffering, no offense, and no wound that didn’t serve to help Him carry out His mission on Earth: the Redemption of mankind. While He suffered He repaired, offered and thanked, transforming suffering into the means for men to get close to Him, that is, to God.
Whoever does not believe or does not want to believe often tends to formulate the equation "God = suffering", as if it could be avoided without God. I reply saying that, with or without God, man is doomed to suffer anyway. Suffering is part of life and it is inevitable for everyone. Yet, all we do is run away from it, or pretend that there is a way to live without it or to keep it at a distance. In this way, many young people have never really experienced suffering growing up in an overprotective environment or living a questionable life of ease, and do not have a sense of reality, and so they begin searching for suffering in the wrong way. Also, more and more older people are confined to nursing homes, which serving as hospices give the appearance of being places of wellness and rejuvenation where, in reality, there thrives a more often tacit and senseless expectation of death.
Christ did not come to abolish suffering but to give it full meaning, both for those who suffer and for those who witness suffering. That is why Jesus does not say leave your cross and follow Me, but rather take up your cross and follow Me. To non-believers I often ask: given the inevitability of suffering, wouldn’t it be wiser to live it out with Christ or teach others to live it in Him, without hiding it or abolishing it, and without painful illusions?
Do we believe that we follow Him? Do we take up our cross, or let it crash down on us? Or do we seek a remedy or a medicine in religion? And in the presence of those who suffer, do we suffer as well, or what attitude do we assume? Do we avoid them, move away, check their identity card before deciding? Do we complain and protest that suffering has prevented us from doing what we had planned? The cross is an opportunity for everyone and not an impediment to our plans. It is an opportunity to feel closer to God, to nourish our prayer with reality and truth, to mature in virtue. It is an opportunity therefore to love God and neighbor in the act of feeling his pain and giving him relief. Our suffering has immense value of which we are often not fully aware. A value that becomes visible when our suffering is for someone, but remains invisible when perhaps it is for Jesus. We should establish a habit of dialogue with the invisible.
If I think of those who suffer and have suffered in exceptional ways, and there are many, I immediately feel that what I am writing on suffering is childish and inadequate, even unfair. Suffering gives men an aura of sanctity and authority that anyone who has not experienced the same suffering cannot talk about. So I feel I must confess my inadequacy in talking about a topic like this. If a person who is suffering comes to me and says: "and what do you know? Yours is just rhetoric, reducing an active thought to a game. The game of a young boy who has never truly suffered, a spoiled boy.” He would probably be right.
I wonder, then, how I could be a credible witness, true and sincere, of Jesus’ suffering if I have never been familiar with it myself, if I have not even had one trial, no matter how small. Our daily commitment perhaps should be to find an answer to this question, on the occasions which make up every new day of our lives.
What is striking when reading Luisa’s writings is her relationship with pain and mortification. We can say that she constantly experiences them not only physically (being crucified in bed as a victim for more than 60 years) but also morally. Luisa even looks for pain when she begs Jesus to take upon herself the punishment for humanity and when she contemplates the Passion of Jesus, even to wanting to be crucified with Him on the Cross. Luisa does it out of love, love for humanity which is the image of God, and love for Jesus. For this reason Luisa is blessed and radiates bliss, because thanks to God's Love she manages to turn every opportunity of suffering into an act of reparation, an offering, a praise not given, an act of love that wants to be so immense as to fill the emptiness of love of creatures.
Jesus calls those who mourn blessed because they shall be comforted. This consolation is to be understood without a doubt as an action of the Holy Spirit, but also as the certainty that suffering is not the end of life, that it is only passing and will last as long as our lives. After suffering and death, the Resurrection and eternal life of bliss await us if we follow Jesus on the Way of the Cross.