“Littlest Suffering Souls” by Austin Ruse

 The little wren outside is pecking seeds off the wooden deck- so small and seemingly insignificant.

What could this poor little creature teach me?  

How often we ignore the littlest among us.  How often we ignore the simple of heart, those who go about their purpose in life, while the rest of the complicated world whirls around them.

Especially when it comes to suffering human beings, we’re slow to take notice of those who can’t keep up with the pace.

The book, Littlest Suffering Souls, by Austin Ruse, reminds readers of the great graces available to those who are faced with the care and responsibility of little ones, and additionally, the humility it takes to learn from life’s sicknesses and pain.

And there may be no greater pain that watching a child suffer.  

Our Mother Mary knew that ache.

Ruse shares the blessed heroism of three modern day children and their families. And he shows us that each family is unique in the crosses they bear, but that all are called to embrace them with love.

And then, miracles happen!

Devotion, faith, openness, and littleness of heart

bring exaltation, blessings and unexpected joys.

Ruses’ book is about three small children who suffered greatly from physical illnesses.  Struck with Downs Syndrome, leukemia, spinal bifida, and all their complications, the short lives of Brendan, Margaret, and Audrey were a marathon of enduring pain. The untimely deaths of these little ones, though, continue to bring about great conversions.

Their example teaches us how redemptive suffering which is offered up and united to Christ’s, can be a powerful force.  Readers are led to consider how accepting one’s own crosses in life while keeping hope in expectant trust, can lead to peace and even joy.

Referencing great writers and saints in the Church, Ruse helps us understand this sometimes unpopular Catholic view.  Suffering united to Christ’s changes the world.  Brendan, Margaret and Audrey received wisdom beyond their young years, and suffered incredulously, with joy. Their parents’ stories, and those of their friends, are proof that these littlest suffering souls had a great mission.

All Catholic children, these three little ones became catechists and evangelizers to the family and friends they encountered.  How close they were to Jesus in the Eucharist- many of them requesting an early reception of this sacrament.  Priests who ministered to them and their families, were drawn to their saintly sides and remain forever changed in their own self sacrificial lives.

When the powerful, influential, and the worldly recognized the true Presence of Christ in Brendan, Margaret, and Audrey, they were changed. Renewed by watching them, even popes like St John Paul II, found renewal to serve the Lord and His Church in new ways.

Readers will find themselves privileged to have been given a glimpse of these saintly children, just as one catches a glimpse of a poor simple wren on a spring morning.

 As Ruse tells their stories, the heart and mind are given a new vision.  Our Lord tells us the same in His Word,

Yet we do speak a wisdom to those who are mature, but not a wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age who are passing away.Rather, we speak God’s wisdom, mysterious, hidden, which God predetermined before the ages for our glory,and which none of the rulers of this age knew;

for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

But as it is written:  “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart,what God has prepared for those who love him

(1 Cor 2: 6-9)

Brendan, Margaret, and Audrey, pray for us!

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