What Does It Mean to “Offer It Up”?

By pintswaquinas February 13, 2024

One of the most stereotypical Catholic expressions is “offer it up.” You may hear these words after a painful ordeal, maybe something as simple as stubbing your toe, or a life-altering event, such as losing your job or being diagnosed with a disease.

You may roll your eyes when you hear this expression because it sounds dismissive. It may make you feel that the person saying it isn’t interested in helping you solve (or even listen to) your problem.

On the contrary, offering up your suffering is actually a superpower given to you by God to help save your soul and the souls of others.

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Let’s unpack the rich meaning of this phrase.

You can choose to suffer to help others carry their burdens.
Let’s examine it first from a natural perspective and then a supernatural one.

In the natural order, you can better the lives of others in many different ways. For example, you can teach, encourage, or correct them. You can better the lives of others also by sharing their burdens. For example, you can care for a friend who is sick.

You can also share supernatural burdens.
In the order of grace, God allows you to take on others’ burdens to help them get to heaven. Suffering is a result of sin — we have to undergo punishment to purify ourselves. By suffering, you’re able to make satisfaction for your neighbor’s sins.

There’s no guarantee that your action will convert the person you are praying or suffering for. Although they may resist God’s grace, suffering for them will change you by helping you become a more loving and giving person.

How to handle suffering.
On its own, suffering is not a good thing. We only glorify it insofar as it helps us conform our hearts to God and contribute to our neighbor’s salvation.

But suffering is an unavoidable part of life. Rather than pretending it doesn’t exist, you need to learn how to love God through it. Suffering doesn’t come from our Lord, but He makes use of it to purify you of everything that separates you from Him.

The goal is to understand “offer it up” as an invitation to greater love. Let’s start this Lent with a renewed desire to give more of ourselves to God and our fellow human beings.

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