E-mail from Heaven: Is your computer on?
In view of the terrible events occurring in our country we offer a meditation on the value of suffering. Pagan Greek and Roman mythology explained suffering as the action of capricious gods who took out their jealousy and wrath on humans, both innocent and guilty. Unfortunately, many in this country have that same view of suffering as purposeless and random and do everything possible to escape. Alcohol and drug abuse, sexual and gambling addictions, the popularity of Valium and Prozac all bear sad testimony to our efforts to avoid pain. For the mature Christian, suffering is the result of sin, both personal and corporate, but it is never meaningless. In fact, when united to the suffering of Christ, its value is without limit. It can convert hearts, save souls, and open God's wellspring of Divine Mercy. Let us listen to the saints and resolve to bear wrongs and sufferings patiently for the glory of God.
Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC] If God the Father almighty, the Creator of the ordered and good world, cares for all His creatures, why does evil exist? To this question, as pressing as it is unavoidable, as painful as it is mysterious, no quick answer will suffice. Only Christian faith as a whole constitutes the answer to this question. [CCC, 309] God is infinitely good and all His works are good. Yet no one can escape the experience of suffering or the evils in nature which seem to be lined to the limitations proper to creatures: and above all to the question of moral evil 'I sought whence evil comes and there was no solution,' said St. Augustan, and his own painful quest would only be resolved by his conversion to the living God. For the mystery of lawlessness (2 Thess 2:7) is clarified only in the light of the mystery of our religion (1 Tim 3:16)." [CCC, 385]
St.Augustine: For Almighty God because he is supremely good, would never allow any evil whatsoever to exist in His works if He were not so all-powerful and good as to cause good to emerge from evil itself. [De libero arbitrio I]
Genesis 45: It was clearly an evil act for Joseph's brothers to sell him into slavery. Not only did Joseph suffer from the injustice (and later imprisonment in Egypt), but his father, Jacob, suffered grievously for the loss of his beloved son. And yet, Joseph saw God's providence in his suffering and eloquently testified to it when he revealed himself. "I am your brother Joseph, whom you once sold into Egypt. But now do not be distressed, and do not reproach yourselves for having sold me here. It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you. For two years now the famine has been in the land, and for five more years tillage will yield no harvest. God, therefore, sent me on ahead of you to ensure for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives in an extraordinary deliverance. So it was not really you but God who had me come here; and he has made of me a father to Pharoah, lord of all his household, and ruler over the whole land of Egypt."
St. Thomas More: Certainly more than most, St. Thomas knew what it was to face loss of fortune and prospects. But there is no evidence that he ever met his misfortune with anything but patience and forbearance. Shortly before his martyrdom he consoled his daughter Meg with these words: "Nothing can come but that that God wills. And I make me very sure that whatsoever that be, seem it never so bad in sight, it shall indeed be the best." On another occasion Sir Thomas put suffering in context by acknowledging those who accept it for worldly reasons. "How many Romans, how many noble courages of other sundry countries have willingly given their own lives and suffered great deadly pains and very painful deaths for their countries and the respect of winning by their deaths the only reward of worldly renown and fame? And should we then shrink to suffer so much for eternal honour in heaven and everlasting glory?"
St. Faustina Kowalska: The Apostle of Divine Mercy shows the true essence of suffering, which is to accept even the smallest sacrifice and humiliation as an opportunity to win souls for Christ. "I will thank the Lord Jesus for every humiliation and will pray specially for the person who has given me the chance to be humiliated. I will immolate myself for the benefit of souls. I will not count the cost of any sacrifice. I will cast myself beneath the feet of the sisters, like a carpet on which they can not only tread, but also wipe their feet. My place is under the feet of the sisters. I will make every effort to obtain that place unnoticed by others. It is enough that God sees this." [Notebook 1, 243] When Sr. Faustina was dying, Jesus appeared to her and told her, "Pure love gives the soul strength at the very moment of dying. When I was dying on the cross, I was not thinking about Myself, but about poor sinners, and I prayed for them to My Father. I want your last moments to be completely similar to Mine on the cross. There is but one price at which souls are bought, and that is suffering united to My suffering on the cross. Pure love understands these words; carnal love will never understand them."
May God grant us the grace to be willing to be victim souls for the salvation of the world.