Lord, I never wanted to be separated from You.

St. Anna Schaeffer: World Day of the Sick Reflection

Do you feel that life is burdensome and full suffering? Today is the World Day of the Sick. So, let me tell you a story about ST. ANNA SCHAEFFER, a German Laywoman, an Apostle of Suffering and Reparation, who was canonized together with our very own San Pedro Calungsod and 5 others.

Our Lord called Anna to a vocation of suffering. In 1901, her time of suffering began. That day, the stovepipe over the laundry boiler had become detached from the wall, but in trying to fix it, she unfortunately slipped into a vat of boiling lye, scalding both legs above the knees. 

It was a hopeless case, according to the doctors! She was released from hospital as an invalid, bedridden patient. Painful infirmity was added to her extreme poverty. She asked questions, too, “Why God? Why me?”: but eventually, she learned to recognize God's will in this harsh school of suffering and to accept it with ever-greater joy. She generously decided to offer her life and sufferings to God.

In 1910, she bore the wounds of Christ and only few people knew about it. Later, in order to suffer in secret and to avoid any sensationalism, she asked the Lord to remove the visible stigmata. She was now ready to accept even greater sufferings. Later, her legs became completely paralyzed which was followed by painful cramps due to a stiffening of the spinal cord and, finally, by cancer of the rectum. But she was able to combine an active apostolate (she wrote countless letters to the needy and to those who sought her advice; she gladly did embroidery for churches and chapels) with one of prayer, sacrifice and suffering. 

After accidentally falling out of bed five weeks before her death, Anna suffered a brain injury, causing her to lose her voice; thus, she became even more a "silent victim". On 5 October 1925, she received her last Communion. 

The Holy Father wrote in 2007 “[We must allow ourselves] to be taken and led by the [Lord], to say "yes" to the will of God, with all one's existence interwoven with joys and sadness, hopes and disappointments, in the awareness that tribulations, pain and suffering make rich the meaning of our pilgrimage on the earth.”

Whoah, the Holy Father is pretty strong here. Our journey on earth to heaven is given meaning by our pains and sufferings? It’s not what the world says, but it’s the way of Jesus, the way of the cross. If we may sometimes find life burdensome and full of suffering, let’s remember that we’re invited to join Jesus in the work of salvation by uniting our suffering to His.

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