Suffering and Redemption

Why does God allow suffering to be part of our lives? When we hear the word "suffering", we hear it in negative terms. It is difficult to experience and possibly more difficult to watch another go through it. Often we want to end it on our say so.

However, it should be comforting to reflect upon the fact that God Himself entered into human suffering through the Incarnate Son who suffered and died so that we could overcome death. We must remember that both suffering and death came into the world with our first parents and their sin. Yet, because of the Son's obedience to the Will of God in these afflictions, we are given redemption.

In baptism we are made one with Christ and join in His suffering on the Cross and thereby assist in the work of Salvation for the whole world. The suffering that we experience brings a grace-filled opportunity to offer prayer for oneself, our loved ones, and our world-wide family. Jesus is with us in our suffering, because we have and are sharing in His.

For those whose faith is little or lost completely, suffering never seems to make sense. Some may even begin contemplating suicide. Why should one endure pain and suffering when death is the end of all meaning and purpose? The immorality of harming the great good of human life should be apparent even to those without faith. Sacred Scripture speaks directly against intending one's death, especially to end suffering. It is with deep faith in Jesus Christ that one can learn to offer up their pain for others -- moving from selfishness to love.


Nine Steps to Forgiveness by Fredric Luskin, Ph.D.

  • Know exactly how you feel about what happened and be able to articulate what about the situation is not OK. Then, tell a trusted couple of people about your experience.
  • Make a commitment to yourself to do what you have to do to feel better. Forgiveness is for you and not for anyone else.
  • Forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciliation with the person that hurt you, or condoning of their action. What you are after is to find peace. Forgiveness can be defined as the "peace and understanding that come from blaming that which has hurt you less, taking the life experience less personally, and changing your grievance story."
  • Get the right perspective on what is happening. Recognize that your primary distress is coming from the hurt feelings, thoughts and physical upset you are suffering now, not what offended you or hurt you two minutes - or ten years -ago. Forgiveness helps to heal those hurt feelings.
  • At the moment you feel upset practice a simple stress management technique to soothe your body's flight or fight response.
  • Give up expecting things from other people, or your life , that they do not choose to give you. Recognize the "unenforceable rules" you have for your health or how you or other people must behave. Remind yourself that you can hope for health, love, peace and prosperity and work hard to get them.
  • Put your energy into looking for another way to get your positive goals met than through the experience that has hurt you. Instead of mentally replaying your hurt seek out new ways to get what you want.
  • Remember that a life well lived is your best revenge. Instead of focusing on your wounded feelings, and thereby giving the person who caused you pain power over you, learn to look for the love, beauty and kindness around you. Forgiveness is about personal power.
  • Amend your grievance story to remind you of the heroic choice to forgive.

The practice of forgiveness has been shown to reduce anger, hurt depression and stress and leads to greater feelings of hope, peace, compassion and self confidence. Practicing forgiveness leads to healthy relationships as well as physical health. It also influences our attitude which opens the heart to kindness, beauty, and love.


Letting Go Of A Grudge -- Impossible You Say?!

"So I tell you to ask for things in prayer. And if you believe that you have received those things, then they will be yours. When you are praying, and you remember that you are angry with another person about something, then forgive that person. Forgive them so that your Father in heaven will also forgive your sins." Mark 11:24-26

Holding a grudge is like having an open wound that does not heal. You feel hurt by someone who has done you wrong. Instead of getting over it, you are reliving painful memories and opening up the wound. You keep the feeling of hurt alive.

Holding a grudge is a self-destructive behavior. The only one who gets punished by it is yourself, not the person who has caused you the pain. Not only do you feel emotionally hurt, but if you do not deal with your grudge, you can also get physical problems. Stress levels can go up, your muscles can get tensed, your blood pressure may rise, your energy levels become low, etc.

The first step of every problem is recognizing that we have a problem. We have to recognize the fact that we hold a grudge and that we are the only ones getting punished by it. When you are ready to admit that this is indeed a problem you are ready to deal with it.

Stop opening up that wound! Get control over your thoughts. Your thoughts have an enormous power and help create your future reality. So get rid of your self-destructing thoughts and focus on the positive things in your life. Use positive affirmations and say that you are willing to let go. Prayer makes all things possible.


Bless Me Father, Again and Again and Again...

I received an email from a good friend today that prompt-ed me to challenge myself to respond on this blog regarding the Sacrament of Reconciliation and forgiveness. It is my intent over the next several blog posts to answer her wonderful questions and hopefully get a better handle of these topics as we will shortly enter the Lenten season (Ash Wednesday, February 6).

Q: Have I truly forgiven someone, if a week later I am at the same place I was before Reconciliation?

A: First, your question tells us that you are a sincere and dedicated Catholic (which I already know). The kind of sin you mention here falls under the title "habitual sins". Some habits are formed over a lifetime and in most cases won't be broken with overnight. This problem even confounded Saint Paul who cried, "Why do I do the things I hate?" He developed this in the Letter to the Romans. This writing is a great comfort to us sinners.

If Satan, who knows where we are weakest, considers us worth his time to relentlessly tempt where we are weakest, isn't it also worth our while to confess them as often as necessary? You might recall that with every good sacramental confession comes the great sacramental grace. The penitent can then avail themselves to this gift and be strengthened by it.

I believe it was Saint Thomas Aquinas who said something to the effect that God often allows us to fall in a lesser sin, to strengthen us against a greater sin. Confessing the same stupid sins over and over can be humiliating, but that is exactly why it is good for us, apart from the penance and graces of the sacrament. As I get older, I find myself confessing the same sins. While it seems like I am not getting anywhere, I really am because the desire to change is still there and growing with each confession -- someday, hopefully gone completely.

Regarding true forgiveness, this can be a reality or a desire. All those pet peeves we have that cause anger to build up in our every day life are hard to ignore. However, they need to be addressed and our conscience aware of them because they breed more disharmony. We can also allow our emotions to be fed by other outside negative influences. I have always tried to advise those struggling with this that confrontational skills and fraternal correction are a necessary ingredient to growth and forgiveness. Holding something in only hurts that person.

Let us pray that we will all be able to overcome this issue. Next post will deal with grudges.


Kasper, Balthaser & Melchior

" Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.' After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh." Matthew 2: 6-11