The Happy Priest on Finding the Christian Meaning of Suffering
an essential dimension of Christianity does not take away the need and the duty to seek cures for illnesses and to make this life a better life for everyone. Although human progress continues to make this earth a better place for everyone, suffering, in one form or another, will always be a part of our existence. The meaning of suffering only makes sense when we contemplate Jesus Christ crucified and then raised from the dead.
When we ask the question why, we need only look upon the crucifix. It is there that we will find the meaning of suffering and the exact reason why we too must carry our own cross.
Each of us has a cross to carry. We must all identify our crosses and carry them with patience, joy and love. Why should we complain about something that will be the means by which we will gain eternal life?
As Thomas a' Kempis reminds us, "The cross, therefore, is always ready; it awaits you everywhere. No matter where you may go, you cannot escape it, for wherever you go you take yourself with you and shall always find yourself. Turn where you will -- above, below, without, or within -- you will find a cross in everything, and everywhere you must have patience if you would have peace within and merit an eternal crown.
If you carry the cross willingly, it will carry and lead you to the desired goal where indeed there shall be no more suffering, but here there shall be. If you carry it unwillingly, you create a burden for yourself and increase the load, though still you have to bear it. If you cast away one cross, you will find another and perhaps a heavier one" (The Imitation of Christ, 2:12).
A number of years ago, a young friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer at nineteen. Sadly, he died two years later. However, his acceptance of this challenge and the manner in which he embraced his daily suffering not only transformed his life, but it transformed the lives of those who were closest to him.
One day after he returned from a week-long series of treatments at the hospital, his dad suggested that before returning home, they stop by their parish and pray the Stations of the Cross together. The father told his son that contemplating how much Jesus had suffered for them would be important, particularly in their present trial. Both father and son had understood the transforming power of the Cross of Jesus.
© 2011, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
Father James Farfaglia is the new pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Corpus Christi, Texas. Visit Father James on the web at http://www.fatherjames.org and purchase his new book Get Serious! A Survival Guide for Serious Catholics and his first book, Man to Man: A Real Priest Speaks to Real Men about Marriage, Sexuality and Family Life. Father has a hard hitting blog called Illegitimi non carborundum. You can contact Father James at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here for the audio podcast of this homily which is posted every Sunday afternoon.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: suffering, struggle, redemtive suffering, cross, Fr James Farfaglia
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