Monday, November 21, 2011

Suffering And The Journey. By: C.C.

Suffering is something that all of us must endure. "Everybody Gotta suffer" is a message Fr. Stan Fortuna shares in one of his songs which speaks to me in a very strong way (I will share the link at that bottom of today's message). As I thought about how I would articulate the concept of suffering I was honestly at a loss for words. Nobody likes to suffer, nobody wants to endure pain, and to try and rationalize the concept of suffering as part of God's plan is a very difficult task. It is difficult to truly express the feeling of joy that can be had when we cling to God through our trials and see our sufferings as a vehicle God uses to meet us in a deeper way. This may seem like some glorified idealistic thought, but it is indeed the way I feel our Lord wants us to view our suffering. The hardship is in actually being able to put these thoughts and feelings into practice. Padre Pio is one of my most beloved Saints. He truly endured suffering beyond most understanding and did it with unbelievable resilience and devotion to God. I found his quote on suffering to be one very crucial in helping me to understand what suffering in our lives actually accomplishes if we just hang tight and cling to God. "The life of a Christian is nothing but a perpetual struggle against self; there is no flowering of the soul to the beauty of its perfection except at the price of pain (Padre Pio)". Realistically the idea of suffering is not one that seems very alluring. It is for this reason that many people spend their lives trying to avoid pain and struggle...which are very much the most unavoidable truths of life. In order to avoid this pain one may find themselves seeking a "way out" foolishly accepting "things" and behaviours which aim at numbing the discomfort they are feeling. The result of this is a cycle of pain and a whiplash of disillusionment. These crutches that one clings to during their pain can range anywhere from addictions (in every sense), shopping sprees, social outings, or any form of escape to get away. Some will potentially justify and argue that certain "escapes" are not totally is here however that I would like to purpose the idea that the ONLY real and lasting solution to any pain and suffering is God. He first and foremost should be our "escape". I was there before....and that is where I met God. We are all on a journey with a void in our hearts and our souls that only God can fill. Some of us walk around with so much pain inside of us that God wishes to wash away if we allow it. Coming to a deeper relationship in my faith life and embracing the Blessed Mother, Jesus, and the Saints has been a blessing and ironically a struggle for me at the same time. My journey since then has been "a perpetual struggle against self". Padre Pio's words resonate very deeply within me today. These words offer me so much insight and to all of us on our journey of faith. In finding God and a deeper relationship with Him does not mean that we are free from struggle, pain, temptation, and of toil. It is actually the exact opposite. There will be pains, discomforts, confusion, loss, and is through faith and surrender that we are able to recognize God there beside us (Think of Job's story). God does not desire us to worry, fear, and be anxious as we often are. But rather to be ever faithful to Him and trust his ways. To simply trust through our hardships in order experience the joy of the "flowering of our souls". When we battle to understand this we must turn towards the cross and reflect upon the Passion of Christ. We must acknowledge the suffering Christ endured FOR OUR SAKE was beyond human understanding. That he suffered and surrendered to God's will. We are each called to do this in some degree daily. It is hard! It can be gruesome, and at times seem almost impossible to endure. But we must remember that our God is a God of LOVE. A very important lesson was taught to me by a priest when I was in a time of need. As I sat with him before the cross openly sharing my worries, fears, pains, and sorrows...he simply pointed to the cross and said "I know this is hard for you, but is it THAT hard?" In that one sentence I realized how minute my suffering was in comparison to what Jesus had experienced. Reflecting upon the cross allowed me to see the love of God through the darkness, pain, and anguish that I was experiencing. I reflect on the way that Jesus responded to his sufferings and realized that this is how I am called to handle my own struggles in every way. When we accept to live a God centred life we are opening ourselves to allowing the hand of God to change us, for Him to transform and mold our hearts to the ways in which he longs for. Through this we commit to accepting the discomfort and the ways in which we will be changed to become more as he intended us to be. This process is unending and can be without a doubt very painful. It is only recently, very recently that I have begun to see why certain things occurred and why my reactions were not always Christ like. I wish to imitate Him...and I have learned that "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:41) This serves as no excuse, but rather allows me to understand the process and importance of surrender acceptance, and self sacrifice. I have failed to do this in many ways, and multiple times. It is hard to see the lesson on the journey, but I believe that through a maturity of faith and growing in Love with God it is indeed possible. Anything is possible with and through God. I began to recognize that God is never too late and it is often us who are late in hearing His call, and his will for us. “Too late have I loved You, You were with me, but I was not with you. Things held me far from You—things which, if they were not in You, were not at all. You called, and shouted, and burst my deafness. You flashed and shone, and scattered my blindness. You breathed odors and I drew in breath—and I pant for You. I tasted, and I hunger and thirst. You touched me, and I burned for your peace” (St. Augustine, Confessions). Lord I pray today that we openly recognize our sufferings from Your hand. May You give us the patience to endure them, and may You provide us with clarity to be able to see through the struggles toward Your light. May we accept our sufferings as Jesus and the Saints did, and be lead into a deeper union of joy with You. Amen. (C.C)
"I have begun to to love my darkness, for I believe now it is a part, a very small part of Jesus' darkness and pain on Earth." (Bl Mother Theresa)
"Let nothing disturb you, Let nothing frighten you, All things pass away: God never changes. Patience obtains all things. He who has God Finds he lacks nothing;God alone suffices." (St. Teresa of Avila) Fr Stan Fortuna: Everybody Gotta Suffer

1 comment:

  1. Hey CC

    So much to comment on I don't know where to start!! The cross - what a reminder of how blessed we are. The cross always humbles me
    - when I think I am good enough ,the cross reminds me I am not or He wouldn't need to die for me
    - when I think I life isn't fair , the cross reminds me it's not about what is fair but being in His will

    I love what you said "He first and foremost should be our "escape" . It reminded me of a verse in 1 Corinthians 10:12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful ; he will bot let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But WHEN you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it" LOVE IT!!! It's as you said - God will provide a way out WHEN we are tempted . Two sureties - trails and an escape route only through God.

    So I pray Lord that our lives be a living sacrifice to You daily - sacrifice the needs of the flesh for Your will oh Lord.

    Thanks CC for your transperency and your desire to live soley for Christ even when trials occur. What a great reminder of the importance of suffering in our lives. May I come to the point where I praise God in and through my sufferings- Not my will but Your Will oh God.