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has been "given by God to man in the Cross of Jesus Christ". Suffering, a consequence of original sin, takes on a new meaning; it becomes a sharing in the saving 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 with His. As God and man, Christ has taken upon Himself the sufferings of humanity, and in Him human suffering itself takes on a redemptive meaning. In this union between the human and the divine, suffering brings forth good and overcomes evil. Faith teaches us to seek the ultimate meaning of suffering in Christ's Passion, Death and Resurrection. The Christian response to pain and suffering is never one of passivity. Urged on by Christian charity, which finds its supreme expression in the life and works of Jesus, who "went about doing good" (Acts 10:38), the Church goes out to meet the sick and suffering, bringing them comfort and hope. This is not a mere exercise of benevolence, but is motivated by compassion and concern leading to care and dedicated service. It ultimately involves the unselfish gift of self to others, especially to those who are suffering (cf. Salvifici Doloris, 29). The Gospel parable of the Good Samaritan captures very well the noblest sentiments and response of someone confronted with a fellow human being in suffering and need. A Good Samaritan 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 Christian idea that one should bear with pain, should endure suffering, should even sometimes give oneself up to it, in order thereby to 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 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. 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 be reshaped. 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 an existential 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, crucified and crowned with thorns, Jesus. Humiliation is a bitter cross. Abandonment is a real crucifixion when it is rightly understood. Mass and Communion are inseparable from Calvary. There is no reparation without penance and sacrifice. 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 bears salvation, 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 His Blood, 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 prove to Jesus that we love Him.
St. Therese said that when He give us something to suffer, it is because He wants a gift from us. What gift? A smile on the 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 the means by which He saved us. When people love one another, they have the same tastes---and Jesus wants us to share with 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, sometimes very quickly. A great trial can, with one stroke, detach a soul form all that is created; it can be the source of a total conversion. Therefore the Cross is a means for Jesus to lead back to Himself those who do not love Him, to bring closer those who do 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 at Fatima. Whether or not we are given the cross in order to expiate, let us remember that the Cross is always given in love. It is always presented by Jesus in a design of love. It is always an occasion to prove our love, and if we take it that way, it will 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 Jesus wants 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 consequence of 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 just consequence of our sins, and leave it at that? This is right in part, but it is not believing enough in love. It is the response 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 by a 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 it with 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 up with 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 will carry 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 I must embrace it with open arms. If we hesitate, and drag it along, it will become insupportably heavy. Jesus will withdraw 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 endured them Himself at Gethsemane and on Calvary; but He knows that they are necessary to us, so “ He sends them to us as if with an averted gaze,” says St. Therese, “ as if He did not have the courage to watch us suffer. But He sees at the same time the happiness it will merit for us, the glory it acquires for His Father, for Him, for us, and the graces it merits for souls; so in love, in mercy, in tenderness, He hesitates no longer to lay it upon our poor shoulders, while continuing 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 no Simon of Cyrene to help me. No, that’s not right; I need your grace, I need your help here as in everything. You must be my 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.
Then there is the cross of having carried the cross badly. Thus we add to our original cross that of having carried it badly. See what a lack of logic there is: to moan about having moaned and then to go on moaning. No! Say to Jesus, “Now I accept the cross You have sent me, which I first rejected, and I accept not having accepted it right away.” A beautiful apostolate to carry out among the people around us would be to teach them the price of the Cross, and joy in the Cross. But we must learn to show them this with great tact and compassion, as well as conviction. Like Msgr. Josemaria Escriva, let us tell our Lord: may there be “no day without the Cross.”
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