Friday, December 29, 2006

Suffering and Joy

In the reflection accompanying yesterday's lectionary readings in the Magnificat, a passage from Karl Adam included this:
The Christian never toils and suffers and dies alone, that word is absent from his vocabulary. Christianity is a living and a dying in full fellowship with Christ and his members. (p. 106).
As I have said earlier, I try to keep more personal posts to a minimum. Inasmuch as my life these days revolves around caring for Liz, I hope you will pardon yet another personal offering. It is another passage from John Paul II’s 1984 Apostolic Letter, Salvifici Doloris, which I have been reading to Liz each evening as we share what we call our "prayer and port time," including, as it does, readings from the Divine Office and a small (and sometimes not so small) glass of port.

John Paul II:
A source of joy is found in the overcoming of the sense of the uselessness of suffering, a feeling that is sometimes very strongly rooted in human suffering. This feeling not only consumes the person interiorly, but seems to make him a burden to others. The person feels condemned to receive help and assistance from others, and at the same time seems useless to himself. The discovery of the salvific meaning of suffering in union with Christ transforms this depressing feeling. Faith in sharing in the suffering of Christ brings with it the interior certainty that the suffering person "completes what is lacking in Christ's afflictions"; the certainty that in the spiritual dimension of the work of Redemption he is serving, like Christ, the salvation of his brothers and sisters. Therefore he is carrying out an irreplaceable service. … It is suffering, more than anything else, which clears the way for the grace which transforms human souls. Suffering, more than anything else, makes present in the history of humanity the powers of the Redemption. [§27]
"More than anything else ..."

Each evening, the port, the prayer, and the wisdom of a man who knew suffering and to whom Liz has looked for inspiration throughout her ordeal does wonders for us both.

1 comment:

Aramis said...

Dear Liz and Gil,

Ann and I continue to lift you up in our prayers daily. Thank you for this post Gil, it reminded me of my time just after suffering a stroke. I found, what John Paul II spoke of, that "source of joy" going all the way through "the sense of the uselessness of suffering" and coming out on the other side - where in suffering I became His instrument reaching out to others who were helping me. This experience truly was transformative and healing for me...more than anything else...

Peace
David Nybakke