Redemptive Suffering

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I’d like to get some thoughts about this situation: a Protestant friend of mine that I’ve known most of my life is going through a situation similar to one I’ve gone through (and indeed am still going through) and has asked me how I cope with the suffering. Well, what I do as a Catholic is offer my suffering up to Christ for the conversion of my family, for reparation of my sins, and for various other intentions… and it helps me cope in a way because I feel close to Christ and His suffering when I do this…

However, I know this lady inside and out (we were best friends as girls), and I know that this is just going to sound way too Catholic for her! She believes that God allows us to suffer in order to mold us into better Christians, so to speak, but there’s a big step between that and the concept of redemptive suffering or offering our suffering up for others - I think this just sounds too mystical or something to the Protestant ear (it did to mine before I converted!). Does anyone know of a good way to explain this concept in not-so-Catholic terminology?

I’ve been inundating her with the moral teachings of the Church in relation to the trouble she’s going through, and I just don’t think she’s ready for such a deep Catholic view on the value of suffering itself. She might reject it simply because it sounds Catholic. However, I know that it could help her if she could really understand it in her own non-Catholic language. Any advice?

Thanks!
Nicole
 
Dear Nicole,

I think a good place to start is to focus on how you are imitating Jesus and are suggesting to this friend that she do the same. Suggesting to her that she “imitate Christ” shouldn’t sound too Catholic or too anything. Why did Jesus suffer and die? “For our sake”, as the Creed says. So, His sufferings weren’t just a dead end which stopped with Him, he “applied” them to us. You wouldn’t necessarily have to say any of this and just leave it at “imitation of Jesus” but if she asks what that means you can point to how Jesus suffered and why and then say that it is good for us, all the time, to imitate our Lord. Also, you might want to refer to Colossians 1:24 which says “It makes me happy to suffer for you, as I am suffering now, and in my own body to do what I can to make up for all that still has to be undergone by Christ for the sake of His body, the Church.” Since we don’t say that Christ’s sufferings were somehow insufficient, this statement, in one sense, refers to how we suffer in union with Christ in such a way that it is actually Christ’s work, not ours…but, I’m getting into personal interpretation here. The point is imitation of Christ and always remember that your way of life and example preach more eloquently than any words you can say.

Sincerely yours in our Lord,
Br. Dan
 
Thank you so much, Br. Dan. The imitation of Christ is a great place to start! I appreciate your bringing that up - it is something I hadn’t thought about (I think of offering our sufferings up to Christ, but forget that that in itself is imitating Him). I think it will be a very good way to bring the subject up with her.

Nicole
 
Are you familiar with Rosalind Moss?
ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/seriessearchprog.asp?seriesID=6124&T1=moss
This is a link to a series she did awhile back. Program 12 talks about suffering.
She uses the example of a Mother who is going to make a cake. She is completely capable of doing it by herself but her 3 year old daughter comes in and says can I help? **Out of love ** the mother lets her help her -the daughter joins with her. Look at Col 1:24 - what is lacking in Christ suffering is our participation.
Also, may I suggest Donna Cori Gibson’s CD “Our Catholic Faith” She’s a Catholic singer and she talks about this and has a beautiful voice.
csasso.hypermart.net/contempo2.htm
 
Br. Dan:
Dear Nicole,

I think a good place to start is to focus on how you are imitating Jesus and are suggesting to this friend that she do the same. Suggesting to her that she “imitate Christ” shouldn’t sound too Catholic or too anything. Why did Jesus suffer and die? “For our sake”, as the Creed says. So, His sufferings weren’t just a dead end which stopped with Him, he “applied” them to us. You wouldn’t necessarily have to say any of this and just leave it at “imitation of Jesus” but if she asks what that means you can point to how Jesus suffered and why and then say that it is good for us, all the time, to imitate our Lord. Also, you might want to refer to Colossians 1:24 which says “It makes me happy to suffer for you, as I am suffering now, and in my own body to do what I can to make up for all that still has to be undergone by Christ for the sake of His body, the Church.” Since we don’t say that Christ’s sufferings were somehow insufficient, this statement, in one sense, refers to how we suffer in union with Christ in such a way that it is actually Christ’s work, not ours…but, I’m getting into personal interpretation here. The point is imitation of Christ and always remember that your way of life and example preach more eloquently than any words you can say.

Sincerely yours in our Lord,
Br. Dan
That’s one of the best starting points to explaining Redemptive Suffering that I’ve heard. And so simple too!

Stephanie
 
Many of my non-Catholic co-workers will participate in a fast as a form of prayer and spiritual warfare. Isn’t offering sufferings up a form of fasting? I think so!
 
This is not a topic that is talked about or understood as well as it should be, yet has been a teaching of the Church since the time of Christ, who offered for us all the greatest act of redemptive suffering of all time! I have been dealing with chronic illness the past four years and have learned a lot but would like to learn more. Because my illness involves some memory and cognitive problems, I often find that documents or writings on redemptive suffering are too complicated for me to process. I have read some of John Paul II’s document “Salvifici Doloris,” but find I often get lost in the process.

Any suggestions on good reading material about redemptive suffering? Not just what it is, but how we can offer our sufferings with joy and trust. Thanks! God bless you all!
 
For me personally, I remind myself that God created me for just this moment in time. He makes only that what is good. He loves me more than I can ever possibly imagine. He has planned each moment of my life. I can make a mess of it on my own, but He will never let me suffer more than He designed me to do, if I but trust in Him.

Informally, we “offer it up” by simply asking God in our own words to use a suffering as it occurs. We often do this for specific intentions (ex., “Use this pain, Lord, for the salvation of my brother…”).

It’s a discipline and a grace to react to suffering this way! In mental or physical pain? Drop something on your toe? Putting up with a co-worker who is making your life a living Hell? Enduring the constant ache of arthritis? Standing in line at the grocery and hating every minute of it? Spill the milk? Accept these things in peace, and ask God to use them for the good of the Church or for a more specific intention close to your heart. This isn’t easy to do, but it does make the suffering more meaningful and less, insufferable!

In suffering we know a sure Hope that our suffering is not in vain. We will have “consolation”:
2 Corinthians 1:5-7
For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us: so also by Christ doth our comfort abound. Now whether we be in tribulation, it is for your exhortation and salvation: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation: or whether we be exhorted, it is for your exhortation and salvation, which worketh the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer. That our hope for you may be steadfast: knowing that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so shall you be also of the consolation.
Romans 8:16-18
For the Spirit Himself giveth testimony to our spirit that we are the sons of God. And if sons, heirs also; heirs indeed of God and joint heirs with Christ: yet so, if we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified with Him. For I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come that shall be revealed in us.

God Bless you, and never forget He created you and He will not let you down. You are very special to Him.

Marie
 
I just got back from Liturgy and commented to a parishner about a woman’s husband had just suffered a heart attack. This same man has/is suffering from althimerz (sp), and poor kidneys. In hearing of this man’s suffering, we pray for him and ‘take on his suffering’ by our thoughts for him/or others and offer up the prayers for those in suffering.

By offering the prayers we:
  1. express our love
  2. join in the suffering
  3. desire the hope in God’s will
I have gone through 3 eye surgeries and one life threating operation, and I know that those who were praying for me we joined in my ordeal.

I pray that all who are suffering will know that we here on this board will pray for you.

Go with God!
Edwin
 
“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church” (Colossians 1:24).
 
I’ve been suffering a great deal the last couple of years from something that came into my life totally unexpected.

Maybe a couple of quotes that have helped me might help you?

**If God allows you to suffer much, it is a sign that He has great designs for you and that He certainly intends to make you a saint. **

–St. Ignatius of Loyola

(I heard this from an episode of something on EWTN so I quick-like-a-bunny wrote down what the priest who was quoting St. Ignatius of Loyola said immediately after the priest quoted St. Ignatius. What the priest added was the idea being that “God uses trauma in our lives for opening us up so that He can pour grace into our lives” – or something like that. Sorry my notes are kinda scanty…)

Those who suffer are being kissed by the crucified Christ.

– Blessed Theresa of Calcutta (Mother Theresa)

According to my same quickly scribble notes while I was listening to the priest, the priest who quoted Blessed Theresa of Calcutta said himself, following his saying that quote:

“You’re so close to Jesus that because you are so close to Him you can feel the thorns.”

Sure helped me!! Hope this helps you, too?
 
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Didi:
Any suggestions on good reading material about redemptive suffering? Not just what it is, but how we can offer our sufferings with joy and trust
Just a thought as I have not read it yet, but Fr Benedict Groeschels new book is just out. I think the title is “There are no accidents.” It should be a good book for you to read Didi. He is still in rehab since his accident in January but has managed to write about it. If anyone can give you wisdom on suffering I am sure he can.
 
Veronica Anne said:
“You’re so close to Jesus that because you are so close to Him you can feel the thorns.”

I’ve never heard it put that way before, but I think the imagry of that is amazing. I think it can be easy to loose sight of the fact that God’s plans for you are always good when bad things happen, but it is then when you most need to offer them up.
 
I have read two wonderful books by a man named John Downs, a Catholic who, at age 15, became paralyzed, and has devoted his life (over 40 years) to offering his suffering to God. His web site is:

www.johnfdowns.com

His book “Why” and his small booklet on suffering are both wonderful and easily understood.

God bless!
 
Open for your discernment…

I would like to quote from Maria Simma who recently passed away March 19, 2004, when asked about suffering, she had this to say…

*“Second only to life itself and the time in which to do good while we are here, suffering is the biggest gift from God there is. While suffering here, we still receive the grace to do good deeds; but once we are in Purgatory that is over forever. Suffering always heals something, and we must trust in God that it is always for our good and for His glory.

There is one enormous grace that comes with suffering that I’d like to emphasize. It is in suffering that people find each other and find each other’s hearts. In suffering the other person becomes the important one and without suffering most people tend to think only of themselves first….”*
 
I’d like to get some thoughts about this situation: a Protestant friend of mine that I’ve known most of my life is going through a situation similar to one I’ve gone through (and indeed am still going through) and has asked me how I cope with the suffering. Well, what I do as a Catholic is offer my suffering up to Christ for the conversion of my family, for reparation of my sins, and for various other intentions… and it helps me cope in a way because I feel close to Christ and His suffering when I do this…

However, I know this lady inside and out (we were best friends as girls), and I know that this is just going to sound way too Catholic for her! She believes that God allows us to suffer in order to mold us into better Christians, so to speak, but there’s a big step between that and the concept of redemptive suffering or offering our suffering up for others - I think this just sounds too mystical or something to the Protestant ear (it did to mine before I converted!). Does anyone know of a good way to explain this concept in not-so-Catholic terminology?

I’ve been inundating her with the moral teachings of the Church in relation to the trouble she’s going through, and I just don’t think she’s ready for such a deep Catholic view on the value of suffering itself. She might reject it simply because it sounds Catholic. However, I know that it could help her if she could really understand it in her own non-Catholic language. Any advice?

Thanks!
Nicole
When the subject of suffering comes up (this is just a suggestion) here’s what has worked for me.

(As a matter of conversation) I’ve always made the distinction between “good suffering” and “bad suffering”. I’ll explain. Bad suffering I see it as the type of suffering where the person is angry and bitter about their suffering. Cursing and blaming God or whoever in their perception is at fault for their suffering and pain. Even blaming themselves for being in this pain and suffering.
That I call wasted or useless suffering. It is suffering without a purpose without a - prayer…without God.
Good suffering is the suffering that has a purpose. It has a goal. If I am to spend this time (long or short duration) why must it be wasted?! Let me offer it to my Lord that has allowed for this suffering/pain to happen to me.
My son or daughter or someone is falling away from the faith…let me offer this pain to you Oh Lord…for their sake.
Otherwise what is the time of pain and suffering??? Time out?!
Does God throw us into pain and suffering so that He can take a break from us?!
Of course not. It is up to us to not make that time of pain and suffering a “wasted, useless or dead time”. Someone needs my suffering to be offered for them…just as Jesus offered His for us.

How’s that for non-catholic terminology? 🙂

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum.
 
Theres some distortion or superstition here. With some of these viewpoints I can say—ignore Mathew 25 where Christ says to feed the hungry & clothe the naked because its God^s will that they “suffer”. Or James writing true religion is helping the widow & orphan,why should I? there suffering & its good,according to the logic here. All you who are sick,forget about medication or surgery, suffering is good.What a load of nonsense.Christ who healed countless people,the psalmists praise God for deliverance,God delivering his people,Jesus saying "my yoke is light ". The apostles spoke of suffering because of persecution of the faith & the hardship preaching the gospel to hostile peoples.They didn^t seek out suffering(like some of the medeval saints) like some mosochistic individual.They suffered for righteousness sake as Jesus mentions in the Beatitudes. Suffering happens whether your a believer or not(Its not God who creates suffering).We can offer it up to God just like we can offer up our joys or victories to God.However seeking comfort & healing in God is what the bible points to.Remember Christ^s blood redeems not your blood
 
Tell her that to willingly accept whatever God allows into or out of her life is a sacrificial offering to God. It is the “fiat,” the “Be it done to me according to your word.” It is the greatest act of trust in her Lord. Remind her that Mary’s fiat brought us salvation and with her own fiat Jesus will be born into her very own soul. And just like a “sword pierced” the heart of Mary so it will be with her. Jesus entered willingly into His suffering (the Father’s will) and when we do the same we share in the work of redemption and become one with Him.
 
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