God will give as much courage as we suffer.

Looking for the testimony of love for the suffering Jesus in the life of blessed Zdenka, let us entrust her to the powerful intercession of the sick, the elderly, and the abandoned. That, thanks to God’s grace, their experience of pain will be transformed into devotion to love.

God will give as much courage as we suffer

“The greatness of Jesus’ suffering makes me understand and appreciate his great love,” wrote Blessed Zdenka Scheling

From the mysteries of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection, human suffering draws meaning and fullness of light. In the apostolic letter Salvifici doloris (18), Saint John Paul II. he touches on this secret in the following words.

“Human suffering reached its peak in Christ’s suffering and at the same time reached a completely new dimension and a new order: it was connected to love… to love that creates good, extracting it from evil, precisely through suffering. The supreme good of the redemption of the world came from the cross of Christ and continues to come from it. The cross of Christ became a source from which living water springs. In it, we must once again raise the question about the meaning of suffering and read the answer to it in it, right up to the consequences.”

The cross of Christ is a fountain that never dries up. Let us draw abundantly and without fear from this source of our salvation. Especially in moments of illness, misunderstanding or suffering of any kind. “… when you no longer know where the path leads, turn back, go to the source” (Sr. Louise-Henri Kolly, SCSC).


Blessed Sister Zdenka Schelingová will be the spiritual guide for today’s reflection on the experience of suffering. In addition to the gift of a religious vocation, she was allowed to live years of active apostolate – in the service of her neighbors as a nurse in the Bratislava hospital and in Humenno. And then as a prisoner due to inhuman torture and also as an oncology patient in a hospital bed. Many health professionals chose her as their patron.

In her spiritual notebook we read: “The greatness of Jesus’ suffering makes me understand and appreciate his great love. That’s why even my pains must be completely lost in love.” Sister Zdenka, who belongs “entirely to the Crucified One, and therefore completely to the neighbor, as a representative of Christ’s love”, incorporated into the program of her consecrated life the desire to sacrifice herself for others in the spirit of Jesus’ words: “No one greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends…” (Jn 15, 13-14a).

As much as she could, in addition to her work with great respect for the bearers of the sacramental priesthood, she helped the imprisoned priests who were hospitalized in the hospital after cruel torture during interrogations. For this courageous help, she was arrested, dragged from the hospital and sentenced.

She willingly accepted on her shoulders the cross of prison, which was associated with great suffering and humiliation. Under severe pressure, her silence, like Jesus’ silence before Pilate, infuriated the investigators even more. Where did this simple, thin and delicate religious sister draw her strength and courage?

She noted in her prayer notebook: “A person endowed with blessed suffering becomes a gift and a grace for his loved ones. Don’t be afraid to suffer! God will always give us just as much courage as we suffer. When he adds suffering, he also adds grace.”


Despite all the difficulties, pains and sufferings, Sister Zdenka never resigned. She valued human life, considered it the most precious jewel in suffering, and made her life a gift for others. “Nothing scares me, not even the wind that drove the thick clouds. This will only be a moment for my confidence to grow that behind the clouds is my beloved sun.’

She loved life even in prison, because she was sure that as long as she lived, she could fulfill her mission: to sacrifice her life for others. As a medic, suffering from oncological disease as a result of cruel torture in pre-trial detention, she knew that she would soon die, but she still showed a warm relationship to life.

Most noticeable in her prayers for her tormentors and her attitude of faith and devoted love, she was also a strength for other sufferers behind bars. She lovingly guided her fellow inmate, pointing up towards the sky with one hand and with the other indicating silence on her lips: “Helenka, forgiveness is the greatest thing in life.”

How precious, liberating, and crucial this attitude of forgiveness is for all of us going through the cleansing process of pain and suffering. Forgiveness is the greatest thing in life.


Even in the suffering of imprisonment, humiliation and subsequent serious illness, Sister Zdenka loved the cross, and as a merciful sister of the Holy Cross, she quite consciously chose it as her share, which is revealed by the thoughts in her prayer notebook: “Suffering creates space for God’s thoughts. Suffering in a state of grace is the starting point of great deeds. That’s why I lie down like on a cross with all my faults in front of the gate of God’s majesty, through which God pours his graces.

In this humble posture, she wants to love him dearly and work constantly only for him. “Each of us must untie the knot of suffering and pain, because if we stay tied to each other, we cannot move. Only when we are detached from everything are there no knots. He who loves does not suffer. We suffer, of course, until death, but you will see that the further, the less and as much as our love for God grows.

According to Zdenka, everything is easy when we love Christ. “I feel myself slowly shedding blood for the one I love. To suffer in silence and in secret. Silence is an atmosphere of pain. There was also silence at Calvary. When we complain, when we seek pleasure and comfort, what is most sacred about pain is lost. Let us not waste this precious grace.”

Here, the words of Cardinal Tomášek come to mind, who spoke out as a courageous witness of faith in the times of totalitarianism: “He who works for the Kingdom of God does a lot, he who prays for the Kingdom of God does more, but he who suffers for the Kingdom of God does the most.” “

Let these words of his strengthen us in the truth of our faith, that whoever lives from the spirit of sacrifice, from a grateful love for the cross, can confess together with St. Paul: I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. I live in faith in the Son of God, who loves me and gave himself for me (cf. Gal 2, 20).


The young theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who perished in a concentration camp on White Saturday 1945, described his inner experience a few years earlier: “God will not allow us to follow any path that he did not follow and that he did not precede us. He is calling us to the path he has made for us, on which he protects us. It really is his way… God knows the whole way, we only know the next step and the final destination.”

Sister Zdenka was also helped by a similar program in serving the sick, but also in the hardships of her life: “Smile! Tear the roses of pain with a smile, give out words with a smile… Help with a smile, accept when they lie to you with a smile. Cover everything that hurts you with a smile, even if you are very sad in your soul, walk to Golgotha ​​with a smile, there you will find the one who knew all the lies, malice, falsehood, deception of people before you. He just lets you walk the well-trodden path. How ungrateful you would be if you didn’t smile at everything!”


God not only arranges things according to his wise providence, not only sets out with man on a journey, but also precedes and accompanies him with his love. This relieves him of anxiety about the darkness and uncertainty of the future. God becomes more comprehensible the more a person immerses his being in the protective secret of his love. This mystery cannot be understood or proven, but it can be witnessed on the basis of experience, which can only be gained in intimate communion with the suffering Lord.

Jesus bowed down to the misery of man with the characteristics not only of human life, but also of God’s life, and he expressed it with the word, mercy and tenderness of his Heart: “I feel sorry for the crowd” (Mt 15, 32). As if he wanted to say: I feel sorry for you, man, that you do not know how to exalt love and mercy above all pain and suffering, and thereby give life a deep meaning.

Healing the sick, forgiving even the biggest sinners and outcasts of society, raising the dead, loving even in suffering on Golgotha, finally with his resurrection Jesus proved that in God mercy and love are elevated above all suffering and pain (cf. Anton Fabian, Suffering has another dimension , 1999).

Questions to think about

In sickness and abandonment, am I looking for strength in connection with Christ’s suffering? Do I know that in suffering united with Christ I can become a blessing for the Church and the world? Do I draw from Christ’s forgiving love the strength to forgive my offenders? Can I ask for forgiveness myself? Do I support priests with prayer and sacrifice and ask for new priestly and religious vocations?


Benevolent God, you gave blessed Zdenka an extraordinary love for the crucified Christ, which she showed through joyful service to the sick and your priests. We beg you, allow us to follow her in a sincere willingness to give our lives at the service of our brothers and sisters and to be enthusiastic witnesses of your Son Jesus Christ.

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