Saturday, May 02, 2009

Catholic Suffering

Luke 9:23 And he said to all: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

Have you ever seen a Protestant roll their eyes at the mere mention of offering up one's sufferings for their own sanctification? I have encountered it often; Protestants tend to rationalize that because Jesus died once and for all for our sins, we are covered. After all, they say, how can anything we do possibly atone for our sins? Didn't Jesus take care of that when He died on the Cross? Protestants appear to have an easy passage through life, never having to make any sacrifices to achieve a high degree of sanctification. All that is required of them is love and prayer.

So why is it that Catholics love to suffer? St Alphonsus Liguori explains it well, using the passage from Luke 9:23 quoted above. First, says this great saint and Doctor of the Church, Jesus tells us to come after Him, not to Him. He tells us to walk the road He walked; He goes before us, and we must follow. His path is one of sufferings, and to follow Him on the road to Calvary is to deny ourselves out of love for Him.

St Alphonsus goes on to explain that when Jesus says "Let him take up his cross daily and follow Me," first, He is telling us to "take up" our crosses, that is to willingly bear the sufferings He sends us out of love for Him. When we take up our cross, we are embracing it, and if we bear it patiently, its load will lighten and we will be consoled with the graces that God sends.

Our cross is our daily sufferings, those which He sends, not those that we hope He will send. (O Lord, let me be a martyr for my faith, but let it be a quick and painless death!) Further, He tells us to do this daily, not when we feel like it; we are to accept our crosses willingly as long as He chooses to send them.

St Alphonsus tells us that when God sends us sufferings, it is a sure sign that He wishes to deliver us from eternal chastisement; that God prepares good things for those who suffer on His account. St. Paul says likewise, in this passage from Romans:

Romans 8:18 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.


Marilena said...

He sure sent me alot! :)

paramedicgirl said...

Well, thank Him for sending you the sufferings, then. Use them for sanctification; bear them patiently without complaining, and pray for the grace to bear them well.

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paramedicgirl said...

Welcome, anonymous - I'm sure you do have a name that we could call you, though.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Emily said...

I thought this was a wonderful post. I just posted about our own suffering in pregnancy and found your post.... I've quoted from yours with a link back for your entire post if that is okay. If not, I don't mind deleting. I just think you said it so much better than I could have. Thank you for sharing.

paramedicgirl said...

Emily, thanks for stopping by, and thanks for the link. I am glad my post was useful to you!