For Encyclical Guild this past week, we read Pope John Paul 2’s apostolic letter On Human Suffering. Amazing stuff!! Somehow everything he said hits home… and yet, suffering is still a complete mystery to me. And its not something I’m good at… at all. It is also interesting to think about suffering and realize its one of those things none of us escape. Even the people who make life look easy and perfect suffer with their own struggles and challenges. A few excerpts from JP2 himself:

“If one becomes a sharer in the sufferings of Christ, this happens because Christ has opened his suffering to man, because he himself in his redemptive suffering has become, in a certain sense, a sharer in all human sufferings. Man, discovering through faith the redemptive suffering of Christ, also discovers in it his own sufferings; he rediscovers them, through faith, enriched with a new content and new meaning.”

“Those who share in Christ’s sufferings have before their eyes the Paschal Mystery of the Cross and Resurrection, in which Christ descends, in a first phase, to the ultimate limits of human weakness and impotence: indeed, he dies nailed to the Cross. But if at the same time in this weakness there is accomplished his lifting up, confirmed by the power of the Resurrection, then this means that the weaknesses of all human sufferings are capable of being infused with the same power of God manifested in Christ’s Cross. In such a concept, to suffer means to become particularly susceptible, particularly open to the working of the salvific powers of God, offered to humanity in Christ. In him God has confirmed his desire to act especially through suffering, which is man’s weakness and emptying of self, and he wishes to make his power known precisely in this weakness and emptying of self. This also explains the exhortation in the First Letter of Peter: “Yet if one suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but under that name let him glorify God”.”

One of my goals in life is to learn to suffer well, to truly make the suffering in my life “salvific”, responding to the call of Christ to unite our suffering with His redemptive suffering, to accept the invitation of Christ to be susceptible to the workings of his salvific powers… Wow. Deep stuff. Definitely worth the read, and definitely worth listening to Fr John Riccardo’s talk about the apostolic letter… good stuff… sooooo much to learn and ponder there.

So, on this blustery day, Happy Suffering one and all 🙂

One thought on “Suffering

  1. I’ll start by saying that I stink at suffering. But I’ll also say I’ve had the opportunity to suffer in new ways in the past 6 months. During one particularly challenging day, as I was rumenating on my plights, a thought interrupted by stream of consciousness: “Do not sqander your suffering.” It stopped me dead in my tracks. I truly believe this was a Holy Spirit moment, as that message continues to be affirmed in my life. If I choose to offer my pain in union with Christ, my pain becomes a source of strength and grace, instead of something I just whine and despair about. I still fall into whiney mode, but I am slowly learning what is meant by “offer it up.”

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