Love Casts Out Fear

Sufferings accepted well are like the wood

which serves to kindle the fire of love.

To the extent that you endure faithfully

and make good use of your crosses,

you will see the sacred fire of love

grow in your heart.

Souls who have this great love

are usually led through great sufferings.

Grasp this truth and profit from it.

A great fire cannot keep burning

unless someone continues to throw wood on it.

Likewise, to sustain a great love of God throughout life

it is necessary to endure great sufferings.

Maxim of Love 5:2
Jean-Pierre Medaille, SJ

Sharing our stories...

“To sustain a great love of God through life, it is necessary to endure great sufferings.” Fear is for me the source of greatest suffering. It causes sometimes unbearable stress. Forty some years ago, as I struggled through post-partum depression, my prayer was that Jesus would change my fear into the perfect love that overcomes all fear. My prayer at this time still is “Oh, God just help me love through it all!”


At this time as I walk with my husband through dementia, I see how deep-set that fear still is. I look back on life and see that, right from the moment of conception, fear was with me. Rumblings of war and then the outbreak of war and the repeated bombings of our city; towards the end, my father’s loss of his business, my mother’s illnesses, and later, in Canada, two crop failures… caused an ever-deepening terror. As children, we went on with life but did not really resolve those fears.


The confinement of the last 4-5 years has brought me face-to-face again with my terrors. I come again at times to the edge of panic. And yet, there has been transformation! Here we are coming to Holy Week when we celebrate Christ’s Passion, sufferings that are seemingly impossible to endure; the terror of them causing Jesus to sweat blood. Did Jesus think back to his baptism: “You are my Beloved Son!”?That same baptism, we have shared in. I read of how the early Christians underwent baptism, being pushed under the water 3 times, until they came up gasping for breath. Thus have I come to realize how much I need God in my life. And many a time, at the edge of despair, have I cried out for help!


“Sufferings accepted well…kindle the fire of love.” An angel came to be with Jesus. An angel has come to be with me, to continue to struggle through my wounds towards their healing, to let Christ, the Risen Jesus HEAL them, to keep my goal ever in mind, to LIVE LOVE through them all. And then, our wounds become, as Richard Rohr calls them: SACRED WOUNDS. Our loving, gracious God has been with us and loved us and healed us “through it all.”


Through the years of confinement, love has deepened. I have been given a new ministry at the Long Term Care Home where my husband is: a ministry of song at the weekly Eucharist, but more than that, a ministry of Love to anyone I can give love to: a smile, a few encouraging words, a cheerful greeting, a sharing, a handshake, a touch, a reaching out to what seems unreachable.


Then Jesus said to Thomas: “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and see my side.” In response, Thomas cries out, “My Lord and my God!”

  Arlette Hermans
Renfrew, ON


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