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The Meaning of Human Suffering & Difficulties

The Meaning of Human Suffering & Difficulties

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Published by Dr. Liza Manalo
Today what people have in view is eliminating suffering from the world. For the individual, that means avoiding pain and suffering in whatever way. Yet we must also see that it is in this very way that the world becomes very hard and very cold. Pain is part of being human. Anyone who really wanted to get rid of suffering would have to get rid of love before anything else, because there can be no love without suffering, because it always demands an element of self-sacrifice, because, given temperamental differences and the drama of situations, it will always bring with it renunciation and pain.

When we know that the way of love–this exodus, this going out of oneself–is the true way by which man becomes human, then we also understand that suffering is the process through which we mature.

Anyone who has inwardly accepted suffering becomes more mature and more understanding of others, becomes more human. Anyone who has consistently avoided suffering does not understand other people; he becomes hard and selfish.
Today what people have in view is eliminating suffering from the world. For the individual, that means avoiding pain and suffering in whatever way. Yet we must also see that it is in this very way that the world becomes very hard and very cold. Pain is part of being human. Anyone who really wanted to get rid of suffering would have to get rid of love before anything else, because there can be no love without suffering, because it always demands an element of self-sacrifice, because, given temperamental differences and the drama of situations, it will always bring with it renunciation and pain.

When we know that the way of love–this exodus, this going out of oneself–is the true way by which man becomes human, then we also understand that suffering is the process through which we mature.

Anyone who has inwardly accepted suffering becomes more mature and more understanding of others, becomes more human. Anyone who has consistently avoided suffering does not understand other people; he becomes hard and selfish.

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Published by: Dr. Liza Manalo on Aug 16, 2009
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THE MEANING OF HUMAN SUFFERING & DIFFICULTIES
According to John Pail II: The answer to the question of the meaning of suffering has been "given by God to man in theCross of Jesus Christ". Suffering, a consequence of original sin, takes on a new meaning; it becomes a sharing in thesaving work of Jesus Christ (cf.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
, 1521). Through His suffering on the Cross, Christ has prevailed over evil and enables us too to overcome it. Our sufferings become meaningful and precious when united withHis. As God and man, Christ has taken upon Himself the sufferings of humanity, and in Him human suffering itself takeson a redemptive meaning. In this union between the human and the divine, suffering brings forth good and overcomesevil.Faith teaches us to seek the ultimate meaning of suffering in Christ's Passion, Death and Resurrection. The Christianresponse to pain and suffering is never one of passivity. Urged on by Christian charity, which finds its supreme expressionin the life and works of Jesus, who "went about doing good" (Acts 10:38), the Church goes out to meet the sick andsuffering, bringing them comfort and hope. This is not a mere exercise of benevolence, but is motivated by compassionand concern leading to care and dedicated service. It ultimately involves the unselfish gift of self to others, especially tothose who are suffering (cf.
Salvifici Doloris
, 29). The Gospel parable of the Good Samaritan captures very well thenoblest sentiments and response of someone confronted with a fellow human being in suffering and need. A GoodSamaritan is anyone who stops to attend to the needs of those who are suffering.
 
(
The Christian Response to Suffering 
,Feb 11, 2002)
 A journalist Peter Seewald interviewed then Cardinal Ratzinger and asked him: We are used to thinking of suffering as something we try to avoid at all costs. And there is nothing that many societies get more angry about than the Christianidea that one should bear with pain, should endure suffering, should even sometimes give oneself up to it, in order therebyto overcome it. "Suffering", John Paul II believes, "is a part of the mystery of being human." Why is this?Cardinal Ratzinger answered:
Today what people have in view is eliminating suffering from the world. For theindividual, that means avoiding pain and suffering in whatever way. Yet we must also see that it is in this very way that theworld becomes very hard and very cold. Pain is part of being human. Anyone who really wanted to get rid of sufferingwould have to get rid of love before anything else, because there can be no love without suffering, because it alwaysdemands an element of self-sacrifice, because, given temperamental differences and the drama of situations, it will always bring with it renunciation and pain.When we know that the way of love–this exodus, this going out of oneself–is the true way by which man becomes human,then we also understand that suffering is the process through which we mature. Anyone who has inwardly acceptedsuffering becomes more mature and more understanding of others, becomes more human. Anyone who has consistentlyavoided suffering does not understand other people; he becomes hard and selfish.Love itself is a passion, something we endure. A person in love experiences first a happiness, a general feeling of happiness. Yet on the other hand, that person is taken out of her/his comfortable tranquility and have to let herself bereshaped. If we say that suffering is the inner side of love, we then also understand it is so important to
learn how to suffer 
 –and why, conversely, the avoidance of suffering renders someone unfit to cope with life. He would be left with anexistential emptiness, which could then only be combined with bitterness, with rejection and no longer with any inner acceptance or progress toward maturity.
 
(The Question of Suffering, the Response of the Cross)
On the subject of the Cross from the book 
“I Believe in Love”
 by J. d’Elbee it says:
We must realize that throughout our life, at each step, we will find the Cross of our Divine Model, our King, crucifiedand crowned with thorns, Jesus. Humiliation is a bitter cross. Abandonment is a real crucifixion when it is rightlyunderstood. Mass and Communion are inseparable from Calvary. There is no reparation without penance andsacrifice. In the apostolate, the money to buy souls is suffering, accepted with love
Suppress the Cross in our life and everything crumbles. The Cross is the structure. As it bore the Savior, it bearssalvation, and so it must bear us also, and all our works.
How can be Christians, the subjects of a King crowned with thorns, baptized in His Blood, absolved so often by HisBlood, receiving Communion every at Mass, at His Sacrifice, and yet run away from the Cross?
That would be to forget that the Cross is a marvelous invention of divine mercy which gives us the occasion to proveto Jesus that we love Him.
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St. Therese said that when He give us something to suffer, it is because He wants a gift from us. What gift? A smile onthe Cross.
Another reason to love the Cross is that it was the lot of our Savior. He does not want us to consider as an evil themeans by which He saved us. When people love one another, they have the same tastes---and Jesus wants us to sharewith Him His taste for the Cross.
Moreover, suffering helps us to detach ourselves from earth, to look higher, to remember that earth is a place of  passage.
A great cross is very often, the prelude to a great grace, even for an unbeliever. Suffering ripens the soul, sometimesvery quickly. A great trial can, with one stroke, detach a soul form all that is created; it can be the source of a totalconversion.
Therefore the Cross is a means for Jesus to lead back to Himself those who do not love Him, to bring closer those whodo not love Him enough, and to consummate to Himself those who do love Him.
Suffering is an expiation of sin. We cannot expiate sin, which is guilty pleasure, except by suffering. Penance, penance---Sacred Scriptures are filled with this word. Our Lady reminded us of it at Lourdes, at La Salette, and atFatima.
Whether or not we are given the cross in order to expiate, let us remember that the Cross is always given in love. It isalways presented by Jesus in a design of love. It is always an occasion to prove our love, and if we take it that way, itwill then acquire the greatest value of expiation.
We always see the Cross as reparation, but not enough as preparation. It is a preparation for the graces which Jesuswants to give us, which He wants to shower upon us; it is a gift He gives us.
We often accept the Cross very generously, saying, “I certainly deserved it.” We see it as chastisement, a consequenceof our infidelities. Rising a bit higher, we accept it as an expiation for our faults. Rarely do we rise to the point of seeing in it Jesus’ attentiveness, His gentleness, a proof of His tenderness. Yet it is always that.
Isn’t it true that our first thought when we are sorely tried is to accept our cross with a bent back, as a justconsequence of our sins, and leave it at that? This is right in part, but it is not believing enough in love. It is theresponse of a slave, not of a friend.
Moreover, the Cross is the priceless means for saving souls. Think of all those for whom we purchase eternal bliss bya suffering which is, after all, transitory. Suffering is a goldmine to exploit for saving souls, for being a hidden apostle.
It is impossible to fulfill our Christian mission on earth without suffering. It seems that the greater the missions are,the more the crosses are too, and the heavier they are: the crosses of parents, the crosses of apostles, the crosses of  priests, the crosses of bishops, the crosses of the Pope. Our Lord has given us a field to work, and we must irrigate itwith tears falling from the winepress of sorrows, in order that it may be fruitful.Msgr. Josemaria Escriva has written in
The Forge
(number 761):Christ is nailed to the Cross. And you?... Still taken upwith your whims and fancies — or rather, nailed by them!
Jesus will never let the Cross crush us; on the contrary, it will us up toward Heaven. It is no longer you nor I who willcarry it; it is the Cross which will carry us. Jesus took upon Himself the bitterest Cross, and He will add a balm to it before giving it to us---that is certain.
The sweetness of the crosses accepted with joy of free will is a great mystery, yet very real. That is why you and Imust embrace it with open arms. If we hesitate, and drag it along, it will become insupportably heavy. Jesus willwithdraw the sweetness form it, because we would have turned away from Him in turning away from His cross.
Remember that Jesus is filled with compassion fro those who suffer. He has borne all our sufferings; He has enduredthem Himself at Gethsemane and on Calvary; but He knows that they are necessary to us, so “ He sends them to us asif with an averted gaze,” says St. Therese, “ as if He did not have the courage to watch us suffer. But He sees at thesame time the happiness it will merit for us, the glory it acquires for His Father, for Him, for us, and the graces itmerits for souls; so in love, in mercy, in tenderness, He hesitates no longer to lay it upon our poor shoulders, whilecontinuing to sustain it Himself, making Himself our “Simon of Cyrene.”In another point in
The Forge
, Msgr. Josemaria Escriva has written (number 252): Grant me, Jesus, the Cross with noSimon of Cyrene to help me. No, that’s not right; I need your grace, I need your help here as in everything. You must bemy Simon of Cyrene. With you, my God, no trial can daunt me…—But what if my Cross should consist in boredom or sadness? — In that case I say to you, Lord, with You I would gladly be sad.
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