Sunday, January 24, 2010

Why Suffering?

Hello World,

I have been sick with some kind of strange virus this past week (nothing too bad). In my small sufferings, I have been reflecting much on that age old question: "Why suffering?"

If God is good, why does he permit suffering? Why does he permit evil? others may ask.

Just earlier tonight I talked with my Spiritual director Fr. Lyons of St. Louis. He had just gotten an email back from the Nuncio (Pope' s official representative) in Haiti. Fr. Lyons had written him to assure him and Haiti of our prayers. He also inquired about the status of the 40 seminarians that were trapped in the collapsed seminary building. In his reply, the Nuncio told Father that 10 of the seminarians bodies had been found but 30 remained unaccounted for. Also, it was reported that the Rector (who had been outside of the seminary at the time of its collapse) could hear the screams of the seminaries as he stood helpless just outside the rubble.

Why? Why would God allow this? 40 future priests more than likely dead. A whole country devastated. Not once, but twice by natural only a week's time. Why?

Another priest in our community Msgr. Muggenborg, the Vice-Rector, led me deeper into this question at Mass on Tuesday. Just a few days before, Msgr. returned from the United States after saying the Funeral Mass for his father. His mother had passed away a number of years previous. On Tuesday, he celebrated a Mass of the Dead for (the intention of the repose of the soul) of his father. Manifesting great courage, he stood before our community and delivered a homily (sermon) reflecting on his father...his parents' death.

He remembered the great man of faith he father was. He acknowledged what deep sense of loss he felt...especially now that his brothers and sisters are left without parents now...left without what they had always called "Home." He prayed that it would be many years before we would have to go through such an experience.

But then is proclaimed his trust, that his father was in the Father's hands now. In the Father's hands, he then reflected on what his father (his dad) would be thinking now. Msgr. said that he was sure that he would be thinking about all those suffering in Haiti. He is sure that he is praying for them even now. He is sure that he would want us to direct our attention, our prayers to their plight...their suffering.

Msgr. then reflected that in his suffering, he was given but a glimpse of the suffering of those in Haiti. In his suffering, he stood in Solidarity with those in Haiti. In his suffering, he, in union with his father, united himself to the people of Haiti. And above all, in his suffering, he was united to all the suffering of the world... by the wood of the the suffering of the God made Man for our sake. For it is in His suffering, that all mankind is united in their suffering. For this is the suffering that comes from True Love. And, Yes, this is the Suffering that bears the promise of the Resurrection!

Wow....other than moving me...leading me further into this mystery. It reminded me of something I once heard Benedict XVI say (and I paraphrase): It is ONLY in the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ that we can make sense of our sufferings. For only HE, in his death and resurrection, assures us that, in the end, Life DOES triumph over death. Good does triumph over evil. And Joy does triumph over sorrow.

Sounds great hunh? But what about our What about the moment we are living right now?

What about the anxiety we might feel right now?
What about the argument we may be in the midst of with a good friend, spouse, or loved one?
What about the sickness, cancer, wounds we may be bearing?
What about our losses? Our recently lost loved ones?
What about the stresses of our jobs?
What about the false rumors being spread about me?
What about the injustices I feel I am suffering?
What about all those going hungry today?
What about all the ways in which I feel unsatisfied?
What about my disappointments?
What about my failures and my sadness over them?
What about the friends who have abandoned me?
What about my inner darkness, loneliness, feeling of being unloved?
What about my confusions?
What about never feeling like I really know myself? or Why I do the things I do?
What about the memories I have that haunt me?
What about all of the bad things I have done?
What about the guilt that I bear?
What about that Tsunami's devastation?
What about 9-11?
What about Hurricane Katrina?
What about AIDS?
......and you can fill in the blank.....


Questions like these, I believe, bring us to a crossroads of Faith. Either God, Jesus, Redemption is something Real....the Realest thing in Reality....and has Real effects on my life, now, this minute...this second...just as I am.......or it doesn't.

Questions like these, really make us ask ourselves, "Do I really believe...Do I live with a faith that corresponds to what Jesus promises?" For example, are words like the following Real to me in a way?: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

Could God REALLY be using the devastation of Haiti for "the good of those who love him?" Could it be that some of "those" are Haitians? Would that Still make sense?

At this point, I would like to turn again to Mother Theresa. Still her words are fresh on my mind. And they, more than anything this past week, have given me the deepest insight to this question: "Why Suffering?"

A priest once wrote a letter to Mother Theresa asking for counsel as he struggled to face the challenges of his ministry. Here is her response:

Dear Co-worker of Christ,

You had said “Yes” to Jesus—and he has taken you at your word.—The Word of God became Man—Poor.—Your word to God—became Jesus—poor and this terrible emptiness you experience. God cannot fill what is full.—He can fill only emptiness—deep poverty—and your “Yes” is the beginning of being or becoming empty. It is not how much we really “have” to give—but how empty we are—so that we can receive fully in our life and let Him live His life in us.

In you today—He wants to relive His complete submission to His Father—allow Him to do so. Does not matter what you feel—as long as He feels alright in you. Take away your eyes from yourself and rejoice that you have nothing—that you are nothing—that you can do nothing. Give Jesus a big smile—each time your nothingness frightens you.

This is the poverty of Jesus. You must let Him live in us & through us in the world.

Cling to Our Lady—for she too—before she could become full of grace—full of Jesus—had to go through that darkness “How could this be done?”—But the moment she said “Yes,” she had need to go in hast and give Jesus to John & his family.

Keep giving Jesus to your people not by words but by your example—by your being in love with Jesus—by radiating His holiness and spreading His fragrance of love everywhere you go.

Just keep the joy of Jesus as your strength.—Be happy and at peace.—Accept whatever He gives—and give whatever He takes with a big smile.—You belong to Him—tell Him I am Yours & if you cut me to pieces every single piece will be only all Yours.

Let Jesus be the victim & the priest in you.

I have started going round our houses in India—so I have beautiful time alone with Jesus in the train.

Pray for me as I do for you.

Yours in Jesus, M. Teresa, M.C.

Here is Mother's favorite definition of "suffering":

Sorrow, suffering, Eileen, is but a kiss of Jesus—a sign that you have come so close to Jesus that He can kiss you.—I think this is the most beautiful definition of suffering.—So let us be happy when Jesus stoops down to kiss us.—I hope we are close enough that He can do it.

Could "Suffering" and "Joy" possibly be related? Mother Theresa seems to think so:

The joy of loving Jesus comes from the joy of sharing in His sufferings. So do not allow yourself to be troubled or distressed, but believe in the joy of the Resurrection. In all of our lives, as in the life of Jesus, the Resurrection has to come, the joy of Easter has to dawn.

Here Mother reflects on the role of "Suffering" in one's Ministry:

My dear children—without our suffering, our work would just be social work, very good and helpful, but it would not be the work of Jesus Christ, not part of the redemption.—Jesus wanted to help us by sharing our life, our loneliness, our agony and death. All that He has taken upon Himself, and has carried it in the darkest night. Only by being one with us he has redeemed us. We are allowed to do the same: all the desolation of the poor people, not only their material poverty, but their spiritual destitution must be redeemed, and we must have our share in it.

Here Mother reflects on the Mission of her Sisters--the Missionaries of Charity. And in doing so, touches on the Mission shared by all Christians...all peoples:

“I thirst,” Jesus said on the Cross when Jesus was deprived of every consolation, dying in absolute poverty, left alone, despised and broken in body and soul. He spoke of His thirst—not for water—but for love, for sacrifice. Jesus is God: therefore, His love, His thirst is infinite. Our aim is to quench this infinite thirst of a God made man.

And finally, Mother reflects on our "Nothingness"---in the sense that God made us out of nothing:

God has shown His greatness by using nothingness—so let us always remain in our nothingness—so as to give God [a] free had to use us without consulting us. Let [us] accept whatever He gives and give whatever He takes with a big smile.

(Special thanks to a seminarian friend Jacob Strand of Milwaukee who also just finished reading Come by My Light about Mother Theresa. He took great notes throughout the book which helped me to compile these quotes for ya'll)

So, still we are left with MYSTERY. But I hope this has been somewhat helpful. The saints offer us insights that are so deep...and, at once, so seemingly apparent once they spell them out for us. Thank God for the saints. Thank God for our sufferings. Thank God for this mystery...and that we call life. Thank God for my life. Thank God for your life. May God give us the grace to Sacrifice our WHOLE lives for God's Glory & (in the same breath) the Good of our fellow man....our neighbor...our brother...our sister.

God give us the grace this week to bear all the sufferings You permit in our lives. May we offer them to You in thanksgiving and Joy....united to the sufferings of the Crucified one....for Love of You and the whole world. May we trust that you can and DO use our sufferings for our good. Especially hear our prayers....accept the sacrifice of our sufferings for the people in Haiti and everyone that go without food, shelter, clothing, warmth, and medicine. Bring them all that they need...but above all bring them the LOVE that Satisfies. Bring them the HOPE of the Resurrection. Bring them the FAITH of the One walking to Calvary...the Faith alone that can stare at the Wood of the Cross and see the Light of the Resurrection!




Catholic Relief Services: There are on the front lines in Haiti right now. This site allows you to donate directly to that effort should you wish.

Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan: He used to be the Rector of my seminary--The North American College. Then became the bishop of Milwaukee. And just this past year became the Archbishop of New York. He was in Rome when the tragedy occurred in Haiti celebrating the 150 Anniversary of our College. I have heard that he has offered to house any seminarians that may survive at his Seminary in New York. Also, he will be going to Haiti to say the funeral Mass for the Bishop of Haiti who died during the earthquake.

Here is a video message he made in our Library reflecting on the event. And too encouraging support of Catholic Relief Services.

Here is a radio interview he had entitled: "Why God Allowed Haiti Disaster?"



(I know this is a repeat...but the quality is better...for optimal "Stache-Visualization" of Course)



Luke 4:21-30

Jesus began speaking in the synagogue, saying:

"Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
And all spoke highly of him
and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.
They also asked, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?”
He said to them, “Surely you will quote me this proverb,
‘Physician, cure yourself,’ and say,
‘Do here in your native place
the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.’”
And he said, “Amen, I say to you,
no prophet is accepted in his own native place.
Indeed, I tell you,
there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah
when the sky was closed for three and a half years
and a severe famine spread over the entire land.
It was to none of these that Elijah was sent,
but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
Again, there were many lepers in Israel
during the time of Elisha the prophet;
yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
When the people in the synagogue heard this,
they were all filled with fury.
They rose up, drove him out of the town,
and led him to the brow of the hill
on which their town had been built,
to hurl him down headlong.

But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away.


OK. Have a great week!





Let [us] accept whatever He gives and give whatever He takes with a big smile.

Patrick Sprague--one of the least intelligent people I know. hahahahahahaha

No comments:

Post a Comment