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Join your suffering to Christ: St. Alice

Feast Day: June 15

St. Alice of Schaerbeek (which is near Brussels in Belgium) entered a Cistercian convent when she was 7 years old and never left. She also suffered immensely during her life. She contracted leprosy at an early age, which led to her having to be put into isolation within the convent, and she eventually suffered paralysis and blindness. Despite all of this, she is most remembered for her humility.

In this earthly existence, pain is a given. No one can escape the various emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual wounds that seem to accompany daily life. 

Christianity teaches us that the answer to transforming our suffering, pain and wounding can be found only in Jesus Christ. This is the same Jesus Christ who was rejected by his people and crucified. 

When we see images of the Risen Christ, we see a glorified body, but not an unwounded body. The marks from the physical wounds remain, but they have been transformed into a witness of the depth of God’s love for each one of us. The wounds that once caused an excruciating and humiliating death are now the badges of the final victory over sin and death.

St. Alice did find great consolation in her reception of the holy Eucharist. Yet, she was not allowed to drink from the cup for fear of contagion. This caused her deep spiritual suffering because she was unsure as to Christ’s full presence in each species. The Lord relieved St. Alice’s spiritual suffering when he appeared to her with the assurance that he was in both the consecrated bread and wine. 

Likewise, when we are able to join our wounds to the wounds of Christ, the hurts we receive lose their power to victimize us and turn us away from relationship with God and our neighbors. When we offer our suffering for the benefit of others, we, like St. Alice, become partners with Christ in transforming the world through love.