(Note - I changed the title - see KimB's comment to find out why.)
A dear friend is going through a difficult time. She wrote this to me:
There is one line from a prayer called "indulgenced Prayer for a Christian Family" that I often think of at times like this. It is, "Preserve us and our house from all evils and misfortunes, but grant that we may be ever resigned to Thy divine Will even in the sorrows which it shall please Thee to send us." While we are very saddened by this, we know it's God's will.I am always amazed at how Catholics handle grief, compared to non-Catholics. It is because we realize God sends us crosses because he loves us. Shocking concept if you are not Catholic (or, sadly, not properly catechized). I know I already posted about this subject, but I think it bears repeating.
John Mallon wrote some interesting thoughts in his article Grief: The Journey Takes Time. He wrote about a Jewish psychiatrist, Auschwitz survivor, and eventually Catholic convert, Victor Frankl, who wrote a book titled Man’s Search for Meaning. In it he wrote that if we could find meaning in our suffering, then we could use that suffering to strengthen ourselves, survive, and become better for it.
Mr. Mallon also wrote:
For the Christian the ultimate meaning of our suffering is found in the Cross of Christ — where the greatest evil that ever happened—the murder of God — Deicide — resulted in the greatest good that ever happened: Redemption. Philosopher Peter Kreeft calls this “God’s jujitsu.” God used the force of the devil’s own evil to defeat him. We can endure evil and suffering. We can, with great suffering, adjust to evil’s results (although perhaps we should never adjust to evil itself).There are numerous references to the purpose of suffering in scripture. Some that caught my attention are:
Hebrews 12:11 - Now all chastisement for the present indeed seemeth not to bring with it joy, but sorrow: but afterwards it will yield, to them that are exercised by it, the most peaceable fruit of justice.And -
1 Peter 5:10 - But the God of all grace, who hath called us into his eternal glory in Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little, will himself perfect you, and confirm you, and establish you.
And probably my favorite (though not listed on the aforementioned site) -
John 16:21 - A woman, when she is in labour, hath sorrow, because her hour is come; but when she hath brought forth the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.
Pope John Paul II wrote about suffering in his Apostolic Letter "Salvifici Doloris"(On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering); as did Saint Augustine in The sufferings of Christ are not in Christ alone. St. Therese of Lisieux wrote Joy in Suffering.
Having been raised a protestant, I know how they handle grief. For protestants, it is a much sadder event. That is not to say Catholics do not become sad, we do. But there is a difference, Catholics look at suffering as a gift from God – that he gives us these crosses because he loves us. I feel sorry for those who do not know this, because it does bring great comfort. I tried to find sources on the differences between Catholics and non-Catholics when it comes to suffering, but was unable to find them. I am sure they are out there, so if you know of any, please post them in the comment section.
I will close with some quotes from some saints (thank you Rebecca) –
"Suffering is the very best gift He has to give us. He gives it only to His chosen friends."~ St. Therese of Lisieux
"God had one son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering."~Saint Augustine
"We always find that those who walked closest to Christ were those who had to bear the greatest trials."~St. Teresa of Avila