DBM - 1998

The place of suffering and evil in God's plan is complex, if not confounding and vexing.

One might easily ask, "Why would the Creator of all things make loving creatures,
and then subject them to inequity,
(animals, the blind, the disabled)
and to pain, (the lot of all humankind)?

This enigma forces our attention
in a special and most challenging way.

God did not make us as obedient eunuchs
with no sense of good and evil,
and with no will to choose our actions.

No, He made us in His likeness, with free will, and therefore with the ability to sin.

In giving us also the vulnerability
to suffer, He gave us the means by which
to atone for rejection of His love.

Here are some of my thoughts about
the "purpose" of suffering.


Puts into perspective the brevity
of time, versus the infinity of eternity

Contrasts the relative discomforts
of the physical world with the extravagant joys of eternal life

Provides individuals with opportunities to cooperate with divine will by offering submission and acceptance

Allows people to discover
their own potential for heroism, endurance
and the strength to overcome adversity

Gives humans a unique opportunity to aid, assist, support and comfort each other,
in imitation of God's care for us

Provides individuals the full freedom
of will which allows a choice
between good and evil

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An observation adapted from
A Concise History of the Catholic Church,
by Thomas Bokenkotter:

"Christianity does not see suffering
and affliction as desirable in themselves.

However, if one accepts Christ, then poverty, hunger and bereavement are no longer
the absolute evils they appear to be,
for they cannot prevent one from enjoying
the love of God.

They may even be of help in this regard, whereas the things people cherish most -- riches, abundance of friends, comfort, and good times--are real evils if they hinder one from seeking the kingdom of God."

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Comment of a woman totally disabled
with cerebral palsy, describing the condition of her son, who had a ski accident,
February 27, 2002:

"It is a miracle that James is alive.
Once we start with this fact, this gift,
then everything else falls into place.

We are grieving his losses, but at the same time we are feeling a fierce joy
that he is alive.

We know and feel how lucky we are, how lucky he is, how many worse scenarios
there could have been, and we focus
on all he can still do and be.

We know there will be dark times
and dark thoughts and many months to travel for James, but we will be with him
and he with us. This is what matters.

We find no profit in such questions
as why did this happen.

There is no one and nothing to blame here. Are we going to blame Youth and Joy and the very nature of the world?

It is probably good that we don't know
how much danger there is around us.
We couldn't live a full life if we focused
on such.

We are finding our sources of comfort
in the love and friendships
which surround us, and which are coming to us in full measure right now."

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"I consider the sufferings of this world
to be as nothing compared with the glory
to be revealed to us."
--St. Paul, Romans 8, 118

DBM - 1987:

All temporal suffering comes to an end.

Even in the direst straits, people find humor and brightness

Suffering often brings out the best
in both the sufferer and those who minister to him or her, or who are influenced
by him or her.

A life without challenge would, like a diet of eclairs, fail to satisfy.

We are most alive when we are able
to overcome an obstacle,
for then our strength of will
is being put to the test.

We are then most strongly aware of the power
of will which is God's greatest gift to us.

Pain which refuses to abate demands our full attention to the task of endurance,
to the meaning of life, to union
with the suffering of Christ.

+ + +

Jesus, Who suffered on the cross for all people, please have mercy on all those
who are suffering this day.


+ + +


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