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Servants of Suffering

I complete in my flesh what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ, in favour of his body which is the Church” (Col 1,24). With these words of St. Paul, St. John Paul II opens “Salvifici Doloris”, cited also in article 3 of our constitution. By suffering we must not intend it to be only physical suffering, sicknesses or the suffering of the body. The terrain of human suffering is really vast. But why the suffering? Christ has given the response to the question on suffering and on the sense of suffering. “Achieving redemption by means of suffering, Christ has, at the same time, elevated human suffering to the level of redemption. Therefore, every man likewise, in his sufferings, can become a participant of the redemptive sufferings of Christ” (Salvifici Doloris, n.19).

Reading these words of St. John Paul II recalls immediately article 2 of our Constitution: “The Servants of Suffering make their own the attitudes with which Christ embraced suffering for to make to others the gift of His consolations”. The originality of our Charism consists in the re-proposal of the intrinsic value of suffering, in announcing to all the “Superior Gospel” of suffering. Suffering has a value. Jesus taught it to us and has testified to it: to give us life once again he suffered and died on the cross.

We too are called to sanctify suffering and to offer our life in service of the suffering of others. This is the vocation of the Servants of Suffering. In such a way they desire to be those who continue the mission of St. Padre Pio, just as St. John Paul II said in his private audience with the Servants of Suffering on the 2nd December 2004: “Follow in the steps of Padre Pio, whose teachings are always of great relevance and be inspired by them constantly. You are all apostles of prayer and of suffering, just as he was! Prayer illuminates the heart and makes it more ready to accept suffering; the suffering, when welcomed with docile abandonment to God, opens the mind to the comprehension of the suffering of others”.