It is in the midst of terrible suffering that God brings forth tremendous graces. It was seen in the year 261, when a plague broke out in Alexandria and a group of Christians tended to the sick and dying when no one else would. They were executed for this heroic deed and later canonized. The Martyrs of the Plague of Alexandria, as they are called, have been praying for us.
The Second World War, the most devastating war in human history, too had an abundance of grace. Maria Cecilia Autsch, known as the "Angel of Auschwitz, was a religious of the Trinitarian Sisters, who spent most of the war in the concentration camp until she was at last executed on December 23, 1944. Though beaten and tortured continuously, she comforted and encouraged her fellow prisoners, one of whom that she was "a ray of sunshine in deepest Hell."
Likewise Sara Salkahazi, who was a member of the Sisters of Social Service in Budapest and hid hundreds of Jews during the war. Eventually caught, she was led to the banks of the Danube, only four days after Maria Autsch was killed, and there joined her fellow nun in the company of saints in Heaven. "Oh, my Lord, my God," she said just before her death, "how have I become worthy of your goodness? How have I deserved that you have granted me such a beautiful, a deep, a blissful and a meaningful life?"
And finally Salvo d'Acquisto, an Italian policeman who surrendered his life to the German SS in place of 22 citizens who were about to be executed. Let us echo his words: "We have to conform ourselves to God's will whatever the cost in suffering or sacrifice."