For the perfection of a man’s happiness requires him to have whatever he will, and to will nothing amiss: and each one wills with a right will, to know what concerns himself. You cannot force it upon them. I was just listening today to a homily which mentions JPII’s encyclical on suffering which he wrote immediately after the assassination attempt. These are just food for thought. In the following videos she provides a brief but helpful answer to a question about suffering and the problem of evil: Why does God allow suffering and evil? Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. They are so very good. While the atheist thinks his suffering is ultimately meaningless and pointless, the Christian believes that no suffering is ultimately meaningless or pointless. As an RC, I also wondered about role of suffering in our lives and I find it difficult to embrace the idea of a test of faith or a disciplining some of the people I have known. So, athests can and do rejoice in the gifts that flow from suffering. … Wherefore, though good and bad men suffer alike, we must not suppose that there is no difference between the men themselves, because there is no difference in what they both suffer. By the traditional meaning of the term, yes, I do find it judgemental. Your suffering is not in vain. My scrupuloucity is what drove me to Catholicism( a Martin Luther 360 ) ; I was also concerned that when I did something good I was incurring God’s wrath “if” I felt good about the thing I did. As a matter of fact, many atheists understand very well the impossibility of proving a universal negative—Russell’s celestial teapot argument. He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. theology of the body. Pope John Paul II writes: For, whoever suffers in union with Christ— just as the Apostle Paul bears his “tribulations” in union with Christ— not only receives from Christ that strength already referred to but also “completes” by his suffering “what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions”.49, Those who share in the sufferings of Christ preserve in their own sufferings a very special particle of the infinite treasure of the world’s Redemption, and can share this treasure with others.50. Many atheists find suffering redemptive. This is also a false understanding of what many atheists believe and how many atheists approach questions about the existence of God. These reflections do not include multiple problems which, with regard to their object, belong to the theology of the body (as, for example, the problem of suffering and death, so important in the biblical message). You can listen to it here: I have actually been thinking a lot about this lately. But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” Then the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD.25, The test of Job is an example of a test among the larger test that is this present life. Remember, all atheism says is that, absent evidence of God’s existence, the atheist does not believe. For me, I believe I must have stumbled onto a great reservoir of graces for myself, my family and any others I offer up my suffering for. I would like to express my kind words of gratitude for this article, I am asking for your permission if I can use your article for my thesis. I’ve been experiencing unthinkable difficulties… yet I’m learning to be thankful and offer them up for the great glory of God the Father and Our Jesus… Thank you and thank you, that’s all I can say. Pretty powerful to read! Also, the faith’s sense of Christ’s humanity shifts over generations and cultures. Rather, among the reasons given in opposition to theism, and for atheism, the existence of suffering in the world is at the top, especially in the academic literature. God made all things such that they were in harmony, as the Catechism explains: The first man was not only created good, but was also established in friendship with his Creator and in harmony with himself and with the creation around him, in a state that would be surpassed only by the glory of the new creation in Christ. Incidentally, my mom’s favorite saying to us growing up when things weren’t going our way was “just offer it up” which at that time used to drive me nuts. For the Christian, says St. Gregory, one should be more concerned when things go well here, than when one faces suffering and loss and trials. Eleonore Stump is the Robert J. Henle Professor of Philosophy at Saint Louis University, and the author of Wandering In Darkness: Narrative and the Problem of Suffering. “If we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him.” Christ’s labors and sufferings, accepted of His own free will, have marvellously sweetened all suffering and all labor. This is my favorite topic of discussion. Jesus suffered here on earth. “Her ignorant Protestant faith (yes, very ignorant–low church pentecostal) ”. The premise is that if sin separates us from God, and Jesus was assuming our sins, that would be the first and only time he was separated from God and that was what he “feared.” Inasmuch that we, as humans, can understand would this be an accurate depiction in respect to the teachings of the Catholic Church? Saturday, March 24, 2012. (Hebrews 12:5-11). Through man’s sin, all four harmonies were lost. Atonement, DOCTRINE OF THE.—The word atonement, which is almost the only theological term of English origin, has a curious history.The verb “atone”, from the adverbial phrase “at one” (M. E. at oon), at first meant to reconcile, or make “at one”; from this it came to denote the action by which such reconciliation was effected, e.g. I do not ever want to experience that again, yet I do each time I am not docile to God’s ways. I know the struggle of daily suffering. I am happy to be able to soon embrace a path to learn and grow. For as the same fire causes gold to glow brightly, and chaff to smoke; and under the same flail the straw is beaten small, while the grain is cleansed; and as the lees are not mixed with the oil, though squeezed out of the vat by the same pressure, so the same violence of affliction proves, purges, clarifies the good, but damns, ruins, exterminates the wicked. Those questions remained unanswered for a number of years, but continued nagging at me. . To Olivia: Your voice is so lovely. But the one who comes into prosperity and ease in this life, should be concerned that he is receiving his reward in this life, instead of in the life to come. Like I said I am no expert, but without the Holy Spirit and his gifts you look at suffering so different. We recognize that our loving Father has some good reason for disciplining us, even when we cannot see what it is. Be blessed! I question…..”If grace to even have faith comes from God, why is it that I feel that I am the one who must persevere?” At these times I worry that I am “working” for my salvation and am commiting the Protestant’s unpardonable sin. This special series surveys the rich landscape of Catholic theology and presents it clearly and passionately. I’m speaking of the conceptual relation between atheism and suffering. Why travel to see the relics of saints or their shrines? Secondly, the article suggests that atheists believe the presence of suffering proves God does not exist. This is one of my favorite passages. Did we pray the rosary? It applies both with the tragedy the Philippines is experiencing and individual tragedy that some of my friends and family are experiencing. To answer that question, we need to review, why, according to the Church, man is here. At least, though, we owe this much respect to the Lord our God, that if he does not take our afflictions away we should not consider ourselves ignored and neglected, but should hope to gain some greater good through the patient acceptance of suffering. We see this already in God’s response to the first man’s sin: “God can sometimes seem to be absent and incapable of stopping evil. In that I think we develop a fear of suffering that is sometimes out of proportion. Strictly speaking, God did not need to give us causal powers of any sort. Is the mother of the dying addict able to give glory to God? And likewise, when speaking of redemptive suffering, I’m also speaking of a redemption that transcends death, not one that is lost to the person at death. I am always curious and open to learning about other belief systems and the ways in which people draw strength and purpose from them. The depth of that love, the depth of that commitment, the depth of working with individuals like that, that’s the privilege.” – Dr. Joseph Dutkowsky. I explained the nature of the literature, which is common knowledge in any theology program and germaine to Julia’s question. Finally, I suspect you will think this out of line, but I really must question your CPE program for not making sure that you have decent spiritual direction during this experience. (Philippians 2:6-11) Our own vocations tell a similar tale. for our good in some respect, even when we do not see that we need any treatment. You have my prayers, Joie. So, He doesn’t operate by the principle, “If I can do it, then there is no point in having anyone else do it.” He works by love, which is the very opposite of such egoism, because by love He gives to us the dignity of participation in His glorious activity. In her mind, Lazarus died because of Christ’s absence, since if Christ had been present, Christ would have done what Martha thought should be done. Read Gertrude of Hefta, Therese of Liseux, Raissa Maritain and Theresa of Avila. Which I just finished. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” And He began telling this parable: “A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. . In 2 Thessalonians St. Paul says, “We ourselves boast of you… for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions which you are enduring. It is true that there is no supernatural redemption for an atheist, but redemption to an atheist can take many forms—redemption from ignorance, from selfishness, from close-mindedness, from hubris, etc. I took four units of CPE, so I am glad we have some shared perspective. Thank you so much and thank you to the Holy Spirit for guiding me to your article… I don’t even know how I found it…but I am sure the Holy Spirit was the reason.. God bless. Amen! This doesn’t mean that there aren’t some atheists who go around trying to disprove the existence of God, but in general atheists neither need nor seek such evidence because they recognize that it is a false pursuit. However, if there is a God, I have to make sense of that. Because I gave it to God a while ago and said I can’t handle this. The Second Vatican Council teaches that man can “only find himself through a sincere gift of self”; something the Theology of the Body has at the center of its teaching. How did the loss of immortality result from sin? Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm? I will consider the books you suggested but I am also disappointed that I have not heard a respectful comment about my input. Fr. He created us, and gave us real causal powers. He did not become sinful. In the face of the Holocaust Memorial, Blessed John Paul II remarked that in the face of such suffering there must be silence, the haunting silence of Holy Saturday. (Genesis 4:6-8) Christ shows us the depths we must be willing to go to in that gift, even if it is the Cross. Much of contemporary theology, he acknowledges, has shifted from questions of individual meaning (like those his mentor, Paul Tillich, posed) to problems of the … Saints are not omniscient or omnipresent; only God is omniscient and omnipresent. As long as he remained in the divine intimacy, man would not have to suffer or die.8 The inner harmony of the human person, the harmony between man and woman, and finally the harmony between the first couple and all creation, comprised the state called “original justice.”9. What I have learned through this process is a few different things. Huh. As Adam shrank from the prospect of suffering and death and ultimately said “No” to God, Jesus, the new Adam said “Yes” and suffered and died. According to that position, since Christ on the cross paid the full price for the salvation of our soul and body, therefore, all Christians should be wealthy and healthy in this life. Though I am far from understanding all (if any) of their unique doctrines or practices to a degree that I find satisfactory. Matthew 19:4ff, and Mark 10:6. [Of course I do not think that people who are sick or wounded are normally being punished.]. vilbert Your understanding in suffering is amazing. I go with my heart. Another person responded to our thanksgiving by objecting that if God existed, He would have prevented the plane crash.3. The Pontiff hinted at this when he concluded his Wednesday audiences on the subject: We must immediately note that the term “theology of the body” goes far beyond the content of the reflections that were made. But it is also possible that Martha was indirectly chiding Jesus for not arriving sooner. According to the Church, the great cancer is sin, and it leads to hell, i.e. I can’t feel it. I should have been clearer about that. Some suffering is the result of the actions of other people, but much suffering is simply gratuitous, pointless, and outside the bounds of human control. When I reflect on Joshua’s life, marked by suffering, I recall clearly how seemingly gratuitous it was to me, at the time. [. Mary is the exemplar of suffering in union with Christ, as she was told by Simeon, “and a sword will pierce even your own soul.”51 When St. Paul writes, “For we are God’s co-workers”52 that is not just for Paul or for the Apostles, but for all of us who are joined to Christ through baptism. Christ shows us the depths we must be willing to go to in that gift, even if it is the Cross. And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? :). Just sit for a few seconds, a few minutes when you want to. I ask this because my mental suffering, which is extreme, is so dramatically different from other kinds of suffering (physical illness, tragedy, accidents, etc). I’ve read plenty of things on the role of suffering in the spiritual life, but it never occurred to me include mental suffering in the equation. I have to grow enough or hear from the Lord or obey something or do something or believe something or speak something or pray something for the answer the come. In all honesty, because I have suffered a lot in this life already, I have so much fear of what will happen next. Your intentions are from your heart. I did not have that option as a Protestant. The Catholic teaching on Suffering and Offering It Up has some parallels in the Hindu tradition. There are things we do or don’t do that affect our lives, and likewise, nations do the same. Connect with him via FB or on twitter @CatholicSmark. I’m trying to find where in my post I advocated dismissing the accounts in any way, Bryan. By looking to Christ’s return and the life to come: “Fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”63, Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.64, And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.65, The relation between our present life and the life to come is the condition for the meaningfulness of our sufferings in this present life. Glad I stumbled upon this article. It doesn’t matter how little faith you have. I understand that the degree and severity of suffering Jesus endured was much more than all of the martyrs’ combined, but it seems like the martyrs “did better” in terms of their reaction to impending suffering. Yes, we have posts planned on these subjects. Today I’ve published a short post at Strange Notions titled “God in the Dock: Tragedy and Trilemma” for his twenty-first birthday. And he is said to deserve it, inasmuch as his unjust will is chastised thereby. This purpose is written within the code of our creation. GNY, Christopher and Brent, I’m humbled by the truth and the poignancy of what you’ve said. I don’t worry about it at all. I have an MA in theology and your article is clear, concise and well thought out. Through that service, they find out what they were really created for: to love someone else, mainly God. Perhaps you could pinpoint what you find problematic in the article, and we can discuss that. Regarding an earlier question asking the meaning of Christ’s words, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me” – Jesus was quoting Psalm 22 – describing himself & praising God in the midst of His suffering. Some of us, hear the words but do not listen, some believe and listen but after while can no longer handle the suffering and give up. When I became Reformed, I begged God that even though I might lose them in this life, that all four of my children would be specially chosen by him, so that at least we wouldn’t be eternally separated. I’m a bit gruff around the edges at times. That discomfort and Thank you for sharing your talent and gift. and whether this kind of suffering also qualifies to be united with the suffering of Christ and therefore be redemptive? Always take away something positive. Thank you for posting this article… When I joined the Catholic church almost four years ago, I didn’t understand what people were telling me about how suffering was a gift and I should give up my suffering to help someone else. Fr. Anyone that knows her would describe her as ignorant–but that is because she only has a 5th grade education. I hope that clarifies what I was and wasn’t saying. I myself have know horrific suffering and still I am going through it and you cannot imagine what I have learned, how I am loved and how my trust in Jesus is never ever in doubt. If there is no God then suffering is just a random feature of the universe and humans are especially equipped to feel it just by bad luck. The Catechism teaches: “Faith in God the Father Almighty can be put to the test by the experience of evil and suffering.24 We see this in the example of Job. Thou hast executed true judgments in all that thou hast brought upon us… for in truth and justice thou hast brought all this upon us because of our sins.” (Daniel 3:4-5) [, Ultimately there are three options. the body-soul composite. What do you have to say about this innocent suffering? You are fine. Because we are joined to Christ, our suffering is joined with His, and participates in the Redemption He accomplished. The seminarian Philip Johnson, whose situation I discussed in comment #10 above, has completed seminary. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Just opening a door for someone, a smile, a hello to others is more important than you will ever know. 2 Corinthians I posited that, for the secular left, suffering is seen as worse than sin or death. As for 1 Corinthians 5:21, there St. Paul is speaking about Christ becoming a sin offering, one who makes atonement for sin. Books upon books have been written about the problem of suffering. (Genesis 3:8) If they can’t hide forever, they often turn to despair in seeking death like Cain. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. And thus it is that in the same affliction the wicked detest God and blaspheme, while the good pray and praise. Thank you very much I am writing about human suffering. Jesus, when he ascended, gave the church power over all the power of the enemy. But in Christianity, sin is the greatest evil. Of course I knew and believed that “God works all things together for good …,” but there was simply no room or space for this suffering to have any outweighing value, any eternal value. I went through my own prolonged bout with suffering over the past year and found this article in particular to be very helpful to put some meaning to it. I believe atheism to be a false and deeply harmful philosophy, but I love and admire and respect atheists as persons, and hope through dialogue to overcome divisions and peacefully work through disagreements. St. Thomas Aquinas, drawing from St. Gregory the Great, says, “the evils which bear us down here drive us to go to God.”21 But we can harden our hearts and turn away from God even more, in our suffering.22, God sometimes allows suffering into our lives to provoke us to search for Him, and to realize that this present life is not our final end, but a temporary test in which our eternal destiny is determined.23. That was the error of Job’s ‘comforters.’29 It was also the error of Jesus’s disciples when they saw a blind man: As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. “What is the Meaning of Suffering?” by Prof. Eleonore Stump, given at University College Dublin October 8, 2019. Remember also that St. Dymphna is the patroness of mental illness and will intercede for you; there is a shrine to her in Ohio. For him, it is impossible to believe “except while in the flesh.” The flesh provides proof of that belief. We are not gnostics, who believe that we are all spirits trapped in bodies. Modern society (and indeed most of contemporary Christianity) goes to great lengths to try to get us to ignore this message. The “mastery” over the world that God offered man from the beginning was realized above all within man himself: The four preternatural gifts had by our first parents were: infused knowledge, immortality, impassibility, and integrity (human appetites being completely submitted to the human intellect. What is the great cancer, the one infinitely worse than physical cancer? From that false premise, a lot of mis-characterization follows. I have had such fear of what is going to happen to me. And then in the subsequent section, he addresses the question, “How should we interpret these words? The theology of glory finds only despair in suffering, for suffering brings the weakness and helplessness of man to the surface and strips away all illusions of power. Check out Sirach Chapter 2,1:6. Moreover as our Savior does not rule the Church directly in a visible manner, He wills to be helped by the members of His Body in carrying out the work of redemption. . The teaching of the Catholic Church is quite different from that of the atheists with regard to the origin of suffering. In illness, man experiences his powerlessness, his limitations, and his finitude. Not so much personally offended, just pointing out a style difference about how we think and speak of others. In my experience, as a former Protestant, some forms of Protestant Christianity have more helpful things to say about suffering than other forms. “This entire harmony of original justice, foreseen for man in God’s plan,” says the Catechism, was “lost by the sin of our first parents.”12 What we now see around us is not the original perfection and harmony of God’s creation, but a fallen world. THE CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA “Towards a Theology of Suffering: The Contribution of Karol Wojtyla/Pope John Paul II” A DISSERTATION Submitted to the Faculty of the School of Theology and Religious Studies Of I will keep you in my prayers. In bringing about the Redemption through suffering, Christ has also raised human suffering to the level of the Redemption. I’m exhausted ;) I have had a dark night of the soul and I believe that I experienced what it is too have grace taken away. I think your insights into suffering are great, and I’m glad God has given you the opportunity to share with those who suffer greatly. In the Catechism we see this: Illness and suffering have always been among the gravest problems confronted in human life. The communion of the saints is also a great comfort in loss, for we know that our brothers and sisters who now see God face to face are not indifferent to us, but are joined to us in a mystical communion, and delight to intercede on our behalf. For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. It found, however, an opponent in Tertullian, a very learned man, who wrote a famous treatise which he called most correctly Scorpiacum, because, as the scorpion bends itself like a bow to inflict its wound, so what was formerly called the heresy of Cain pours poison into the body of the Church; it has slept or rather been buried for a long there, but has been now awakened by Dormitantius. We are now doing the study “Consoling the Heart of Jesus” and this week we talk a about suffering. Contrasting it with atheism was unnecessary and detracted from what was otherwise a positive message. The New Testament authors teach this same thing. Hello Jared. Godbless. By the original justice God gave to our first parents, they were able to remain in these ordered harmonies. We cannot desire anything more than God, because there is not and cannot be any good that is not found in God. 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