Posts Tagged ‘Suffering’

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Pondering Suffering

Prayer Closet 7 Comments

I’ve been thinking about suffering a lot lately.  My father-in-law has been going through a stem cell transplant while battling Multiple Myeloma.  Another very close family member went without work for four months.  Then the Lord presented an opportunity of a once-in-a-life-time type of job on the east coast.  After much prayer, he and his wife decided to make the cross country move.  Much has been required.  The house they were selling fell out of escrow.  It didn’t make sense to move all their belongings so they sold everything.  Right before the move his wife was diagnosed with an extremely aggressive form of skin cancer.  And, in the face of all of this, their one and only son left for college in the north-west.  A family following God, doing His will.  A family broken, battered, and hurting.

Christ Altar

In the Protestant faith where I grew up as a pastor’s kid, there is no real understanding of suffering.  It’s something that comes and you muster your faith and you pray it away with all the power and authority of Jesus Christ in you.  (Well meaning folk pray even louder if you don’t seem to get any initial results.)  When all the prayers are said and you’re still looking in the face of a giant that doesn’t seem to budge, you sort of resign yourself to either “your prayers just aren’t getting through to Heaven,” or “God’s answer for you is being held up.”  And then you wait often wondering what you got wrong.  I’ve never understood this way of suffering.

As I have walked the path of becoming Catholic I have encountered a much deeper meaning to suffering.  Redemptive suffering.  When suffering comes we can offer it up.  Saint Paul said, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church” (Col 1:24).

If you have never seen this before Paul’s words seem presumptuous and even blasphemous.  How could he possibly suggest that he, a mere mortal, could make up for a lack of Christ’s work on the cross?  Didn’t Jesus suffer enough?

“What Paul is asserting is that Jesus did not die so that humans would never have to suffer, but so that they would know how to suffer.  The Passion of Christ removed the threat of eternal suffering while revealing the power of temporal suffering.  In becoming man, Christ redeemed all things human:  human labor, human love, human suffering, and so on.  Each part of man’s existence can take on a supernatural significance if only one has the eyes to see.  In the case of suffering, through his Passion, death, and Resurrection, Jesus sufficiently merited all the graces necessary for the redemption of mankind.  And if individuals suffer with him, they can participate in the distribution of these graces to mankind.  It does not matter if the suffering is a bloody martyrdom, a toothache, unemployment, a rebellious child, or an alcoholic spouse.  All things can be offered up as a prayer, and the intensity of suffering is not as important as the degree of love with which one embraces each cross.”

“When human suffering is understood in its deepest meaning, it ceases to be something negative that is experienced in a passive manner.  Rather, one becomes free to meet suffering with courage, seeing it as an opportunity for active and positive collaboration in the work of human redemption.  Through God’s grace, it can be transformed into an irreplaceable service for souls, and is no longer wasted.  For this reason, (Saint) John Paul (II) exclaimed, “Prayer joined to sacrifice constitutes the most powerful force in human history.””  (Saint John Paul the Great, His Five Loves by Jason Evert)

I’m learning when suffering comes to not panic and try to push it away, but rather look at these moments as opportunities to directly participate with Christ.  A quiet strength built from carrying my cross daily.

Behold me, my beloved Jesus,
weighed down under the burden of my trials and sufferings,
I cast myself at Your feet,
that You may renew my strength and my courage,
while I rest here in Your Presence.
Permit me to lay down my cross in Your Sacred Heart,
for only Your infinite goodness can sustain me;
only Your love can help me bear my cross;
only Your powerful hand can lighten its weight.
O Divine King, Jesus,
whose heart is so compassionate to the afflicted,
I wish to live in You;
suffer and die in You.
During my life be to me my model and my support;
At the hour of my death,
be my hope and my refuge.

Amen.

 

Christ Altar

I’ve been thinking about suffering a lot lately.  My father-in-law has been going through a stem cell transplant while battling Multiple Myeloma.  Another very close family member went without work for four months.  Then the Lord presented an opportunity of a once-in-a-life-time type of job on the east coast.  After much prayer, he and his […]

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Prayer for the week of September 21 — Composed Prayer

Prayer Closet 4 Comments

For years I had the misguided notion that extemporaneous prayers were somehow more effective than composed prayers.  Then came a day that I felt like I couldn’t pray because I didn’t have the words.  Then I knew the immense treasure there is in previously composed prayers that already speak to and about the heart of God.

Composed Prayer Read More

Composed Prayer

For years I had the misguided notion that extemporaneous prayers were somehow more effective than composed prayers.  Then came a day that I felt like I couldn’t pray because I didn’t have the words.  Then I knew the immense treasure there is in previously composed prayers that already speak to and about the heart of […]

1

Prayer for the week of June 22 — Keep Calm and Offer It Up

Prayer Closet 1 Comment

When it rains, it pours.

If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

Houston, we have a problem.

I like the idea of taking things one day at a time. Lately, however, it seems that several days have ganged up on me at once. I’m not alone, am I? Didn’t think so. Anyone one thing would be enough. But, instead there are a dozen.

Let’s face it. There is no way around suffering. Suffering will come to every individual, everywhere. No one is exempt. There are several ways of approaching suffering, however.

You can resist it. You can grin and bear it. You can throw one spectacular grown-up tantrum.  That may make you feel better for about a minute. You can try to play mind tricks with yourself (a’la Seinfeld’s “Serenity Now!”) A pity party can be fun. BYOK. (Bring your own kleenex) Or…..

You can offer it up.

I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. Col. 1:24

When we offer up our sufferings–however, big or small–to Christ, they are not wasted. They become something beautiful and redemptive.  We get to participate with Christ’s work of redemption. Through Him, with Him, In Him.

That thought alone–that little ol’ me could somehow have a part to play in redemption…..I mean, WOW.

So whatever this week throws at you, remember this: KEEP CALM AND OFFER IT UP.

It may just take that one moment, when a trial hits, to just say, “Jesus, this is Yours, use it for the good of Your world.” Or it may be a thousand moments, “It’s still Yours, Jesus, even though I keep forgetting that it is Yours.” Or it may be that you hit the time-out button and spend a quiet moment adoring Jesus, imaging your suffering joining with His own as He says from the cross, “I thirst.”

However you do it, just remember, that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)

Keep Calm and Offer It Up

Keep Calm and Offer It Up

When it rains, it pours. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Houston, we have a problem. I like the idea of taking things one day at a time. Lately, however, it seems that several days have ganged up on me at once. I’m not alone, am I? Didn’t think so. Anyone one thing would […]

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It’s a good day to be happy

Blog | Relationships 4 Comments

Yesterday I had a full five minutes to myself in the car. Not enough time for the full emotional breakdown I felt lay right under the surface. In that brief five minute span I poured out my soul to Jesus. When I got home I went and sat on our well and the tears just flowed. Unfortunately, I was urgently called in to deal with a pressing matter. My husband asked me what was wrong. “I just need 10 minutes to myself so I can have the meltdown I deserve!”

Yeah. Just keepin’ it real. Read More

It's a good day to be happy

Yesterday I had a full five minutes to myself in the car. Not enough time for the full emotional breakdown I felt lay right under the surface. In that brief five minute span I poured out my soul to Jesus. When I got home I went and sat on our well and the tears just […]

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Prayer For The Week of April 13 — His Mercy Found Me

Blog | Prayer Closet 2 Comments

Yesterday was Divine Mercy Sunday. Although I can’t live a day, a second, a fleeting moment without God’s mercy, there’s something so profound about setting aside a particular day to meditate on His mercy.

In yesterday’s homily, my priest brought out the root of the word mercy. It comes from the Latin: misericordia. Literally this means, “Misery of heart.”

Think about that for a moment. Mercy isn’t a warm fuzzy. It’s a sword in the side. It’s not so much a cozy sweater, as it is a gush of blood and water. It doesn’t so much whitewash our sins, as it does drown our apathy and compels us to our knees.

Mercy Found Me

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Mercy Found Me

Yesterday was Divine Mercy Sunday. Although I can’t live a day, a second, a fleeting moment without God’s mercy, there’s something so profound about setting aside a particular day to meditate on His mercy. In yesterday’s homily, my priest brought out the root of the word mercy. It comes from the Latin: misericordia. Literally this means, […]

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The Maine Delay

Blog 2 Comments

As many of our faithful readers know, my family has embarked on a great adventure. A big move from Urban to Rural. From West Coast to East Coast! We put all our eggs in one beautiful basket: a 19 acre farm in rural Maine! (See pictures of it here. And read the store of it here.)

Farm House in Maine

We have been immersing ourselves in all things farming. All winter we watched videos and documentaries about farming and animal husbandry. We’ve read everything our library has to offer and purchased all the Joel Salatin library. We’ve been having family meetings and planning our gardens, designing the remodels of our home. We were planning to leave Los Angeles by the end of March, getting the Maine before the ground had fully thawed so that we could hit the ground running with our plans.

The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps. Proverbs 16:9 Read More

Embracing Delays

As many of our faithful readers know, my family has embarked on a great adventure. A big move from Urban to Rural. From West Coast to East Coast! We put all our eggs in one beautiful basket: a 19 acre farm in rural Maine! (See pictures of it here. And read the store of it […]

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Prayer For The Week of March 30 — Broken Things

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Broken Things

Yesterday was Palm Sunday. The celebration of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  The crowds that shouted “Hosanna!” would soon shout “Crucify Him!”

The palm fronds we wave on Palm Sunday are saved. And used to create the ash used to anoint and adorn our foreheads on next year’s Ash Wednesday.

Broken things… Read More

Broken Things

Yesterday was Palm Sunday. The celebration of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  The crowds that shouted “Hosanna!” would soon shout “Crucify Him!” The palm fronds we wave on Palm Sunday are saved. And used to create the ash used to anoint and adorn our foreheads on next year’s Ash Wednesday. Broken things…

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Prayer for the Week Mar 16 – Jesus On The Cross

Prayer Closet 2 Comments

Daja and I have really been focused on the Cross as of late.  So many Christians only want to see the empty cross and we just feel the Lord drawing us back; causing us to look at the whole picture.

Jesus on the Cross.

IMG_1931

Today we are going to borrow from one of the all-time great theologians and share his thoughts on the cross.

-Just come down from the cross.
“Avoiding the cross is the essence of the demonic. When finally our Lord was on the cross, Satan had one last chance to be anti-crucial. Through his agents he challenged the Lord, “Come down and we will believe.” Believe? Sure. In what? The Trinity? Yeah, sure. In the hypostatic union? Yes. That he’s the Son of God? Yes. That he made Peter the rock of his Church? Certainly. That he will send the Spirit? Sure. That he will rise from the dead? Sure. Anything–just come down and we will believe. Jesus did not come down. Had he come down, he never would have saved us. It’s human to come down. It’s divine to hang there. Consider the softness of the Church today: the desire to accommodate herself in the world, shrinking away from sacrifice, self-denial. We have today in the Christian world a new dirty word, but it doesn’t have four letters. The new dirty word has five: c-r-o-s-s. Christ without a cross? Sure–anyone will accept that.”
Fulton Sheen from “Through the Year with Fulton Sheen” 

Father in Heaven,
Helps us not shy away from the fullness of your divinity and sacrifice.  We don’t want just part of your story; just part of you.  We desire all of you.  We desire everything you did for us.  Holy Spirit let the fragrance of our prayers arise.  Lead us on the road of sacrifice.  That in unity, the face of Christ may be clear for all the world to see.
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen

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IMG_1931

Daja and I have really been focused on the Cross as of late.  So many Christians only want to see the empty cross and we just feel the Lord drawing us back; causing us to look at the whole picture. Jesus on the Cross. Today we are going to borrow from one of the all-time […]

0

Prayer for the Week Mar 9 – I Thirst

Prayer Closet No Comments

As a mom I have found Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, to be such an inspiration.  She inspires me,

  • in her humility as she said yes to the Father and His plans to bring a Savior.
  • in her poverty as she birthed a son in a barn separated from her family instead of the way she must have imagined, warm and in a proper bed surrounded by other loving women.
  • in her obedience to dedicate the Son of God back to the Father.
  • in her faith to launch her son into his ministry even when he declared, “It is not my time.”
  • in her prayerfulness as she kept all things and pondered them in her heart.
  • in her sorrow as she watched the agony of her son on the Cross.

Is not the cup

 

My journey of pondering Mary has brought me very literally to the foot of the Cross.  Growing up an evangelical pastor’s daughter, I’ve only ever honored the cross thinking that if I saw Jesus still on the cross I somehow lessened what He did there.  And yet, I’ve come to the realization that a cross without Jesus on it is an empty shell.  For me to love Jesus and participate with him, I must be willing to see him there dying for me with a side pierced and blood and water flowing; a literal fountain of love and mercy poured out for me.  I must hear him say, “I thirst,” just as Mary heard.

Mother Theresa said it this way,

“…(Mary) was the first person to hear Jesus’ cry “I Thirst” with St. John, and I am sure Mary Magdalen.  Because Our Lady was there on Calvary, she knows how real how deep is His longing for you and for the poor.  Do we know?  Do we feel as she?…”

Let us try in a special way to come as close as the human heart can come to the Heart of Jesus and try to understand as much as possible Jesus’ terrible pain caused to him by our sins and His Thirst for our love.  Thank God our Lady was there to understand fully the thirst of Jesus for love.  She must have straight away said, “I satiate Your thirst with my love and the suffering of my heart.”

In light of everything He did for us, can we bravely look upon the Crucifixion and see Him in His suffering?  Can we do anything less than be willing to see Him there and offer ourselves in an effort satiate His Thirst?

Dearest Jesus,
Please help us to never turn away from your suffering or be afraid to see all that you did for each of us.  Give us courage to see you on the Cross where your love and mercy poured out for us.  Let us hear you say, “I thirst,” and let us respond by saying “I will offer you my love and devotion to satiate your thirst.”
Amen.

Is not the cup

As a mom I have found Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, to be such an inspiration.  She inspires me, in her humility as she said yes to the Father and His plans to bring a Savior. in her poverty as she birthed a son in a barn separated from her family instead […]

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Count Your Blessings in the Storm

Prayer Closet 1 Comment

Hello this is Anna and Alyssa, daughters of Kristina. Our mom is not feeling well right now and so she asked us to write this post for her.

We both know how hard it is to be grateful when you are sick. Read More

count your blessing pic monkey

Hello this is Anna and Alyssa, daughters of Kristina. Our mom is not feeling well right now and so she asked us to write this post for her. We both know how hard it is to be grateful when you are sick.