Suffering with God
The problem of suffering is much easier to intellectualize than to live through. But when natural disasters strike, it is helpful to review the basic answers Christian faith offers to the problem of suffering.
First: This world is not all there is.
The random massive destruction of a hurricane or earthquake can look meaningless. Worse, it can look monumentally unfair. Poverty has already wreaked havoc on the Caribbean Islands: Do they really need a hurricane on top of it?
But not only is this world not the only one that exists - suffering is a prerequisite for entrance into a far better world.
The Catholic faith uniquely understands the place of suffering in the human experience - and the divine experience.
Our church began with the crucifixion of its founder, grew during a time of persecution in which its most prominent members were martyred and now requires that each church feature a crucifix in its center and Stations of Cross along its walls.
When God asks us to suffer, he isn't asking us for something he isn't willing to do himself. In fact, we believe that God cared so much for our plight, he entered our world as one of us in order to transform our suffering into a pathway to a pain-free, eternal life.
This central truth of our faith transforms tragedies into hopeful occasions, all by itself, because it has the power to transform sudden death into eternal life.
Second: God brings good out of suffering even for the living.
That first principle can lead to a mistake. It can appear to make the next life so fundamental that life in our present world is merely a mirage or a waiting line for the next.
But entry into heaven isn't automatic - life in this world has infinite value all on its own. Suffering in this world helps us to perfect our way of life in order to be able to enter the next life.
When the Catechism states this principle, it cites the words of the saints.
St. Paul said: "We know that in everything God works for good for those who love him."
St. Catherine of Siena said to "those who are scandalized and rebel against what happens to them": "Everything comes from love, all is ordained for the salvation of man, God does nothing without this goal in mind."
St. Thomas More, shortly before his martyrdom, consoled his daughter: "Nothing can come but that God wills. And I make me very sure that whatsoever that be, seem it never so bad in sight, it shall in deed be the best."
Ultimately, even the saints experience the "the problem of suffering" as a mystery. They aren't certain why things happen the way they do, but they know that even suffering is part of God's providence. The suffering they experience builds their trust in God more than their lives before made possible.
Third: Christians are called to help the suffering.
This was the message of the important second section of Pope Benedict XVI's first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est (God Is Love). The first half was an intriguing, original and deep analysis of God's love. Some commentators seemed puzzled that there were fewer intellectual fireworks in the second half.
But Pope Benedict's message in the second half was clear: In the face of suffering, it is necessary for Christians to act to alleviate the suffering, not simply observe it.
In this, the holy father is reminiscent of St. Jerome, who was also a scholar, famous for translating the Bible and addressing important doctrinal issues. When refugees flooded his region after the sacking of Rome in 404, he left his books.
"I cannot help them all, but I grieve and weep with them, and am completely absorbed in the duties that charity imposes on me," he wrote. "I have put aside my commentary on Ezekiel and almost all study. For today we must translate the precepts of the Scriptures into deeds. Instead of speaking saintly words, we must act them."
Pope Benedict also advocates a particular kind of action: one that serves the body as well as the soul, providing spiritual comfort as well as material aid.
"This proper way of serving others also leads to humility," wrote the pPope. "The one who serves does not consider himself superior to the one served, however miserable his situation at the moment may be. Christ took the lowest place in the world - the cross - and by this radical humility he redeemed us and constantly comes to our aid. Those who are in a position to help others will realize that, in doing so, they themselves receive help."
In the face of suffering, Christians can philosophize all they want. But they won't truly understand until they help.
National Catholic Register
More Catholic PRWire
Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718
A Recession Antidote
Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell
Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell
Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Franchising to Evangelize
Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Three words to a deeper faith
Relections for Lent 2009
Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell
World Food Program Director on Lent
Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Glimpse of Me
The 3 stages of life
Sex and the Married Woman
A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Modernity & Morality
Just a Minute
Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Edging God Out
Burying a St. Joseph Statue
George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell
Easter... A Way of Life
Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
by Catholic Online
- Mother shares heartbreaking photo of her dying daughter as she pulls ...
- Mother shares tragic photo of dying daughter as she pulled the plug ...
- Daily Readings for Saturday, August 19, 2017
- St. John Eudes: Saint of the Day for Saturday, August 19, 2017
- Pope Francis calls for prayers following terror attacks in Spain, Finland
- New Jersey Mayor dismantles shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe
- Pope Francis asks for prayers following terror attacks in Spain HD Video
- hail holy queen
- saint elizabeth
- saint paul
- saint christopher
- st mary
- nicene creed
- our lady of guadalupe
- saint francis of assisi
- young children
- Saint Nicole
- st. michael
- saint francis
- st nicholas
- all saints day
- list of saints
- st anne
- st christopher
- St. Joseph
- Daily Reading for Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017 HD
- Daily Reading for Monday, August 21st, 2017 HD
- Daily Reading for Sunday, August 20th, 2017 HD
- Charlie Gard's mother opens up about the beautiful life of terminally ill Charlie HD