Sunday, April 22, 2012
I was preparing to pray my rosary last night, and happened upon my parish's website where our priest keeps a weekly (sometimes daily) spiritual reflection. He was expounding upon 'embracing the cross' on layman's terms. He didn't just say accept what God sends you, good and bad, but in studying Catherine of Siena he said "to be in love with suffering and chose it as your inheritance on earth." And I sat there, pondering the "folly of the cross (1 Cor. 1 18-23)," and the anguish, suffering, and despondency I have gone through lately. I didn't see my cross as a stumbling block or as sheer folly, but I was greatly perplexed by this 'hair-shirt philosophy." I couldn't be more confused than any other heathen about why there was suffering and pain and we were to embrace it gladly. I was trying to reconcile the theological fact that God wanted us to be happy and Lamentations 3:33: "It is no pleasure to God to afflict men. He takes no delight in our pain and misery." But to continue that quote, God uses suffering to bring about the best good, hence the mystery of redemption: the Cross. We should be happy because God wants us to be happy - happy in Him. To endure trials and suffering willingly, we join in the mystery of Christ and the ministry of reconciliation (as our holy Father Pope Benedict XVI said in a recent homily). My confusion had stemmed from the fact that I was merely trying to survive my misery and not let myself be 'pulled under the water and drowned by deeper currents." It occurred to me that I hadn't job searched since last Thursday or Friday (still not employed) and I felt very guilty about that; in fact, the devil was trying to use that to bring me to despair. But I soon realized that I was not just suffering - I had been ill. I had been too emotionally overwhelmed, trying to climb out of the pit of despair I was in, I hadn't been neglectful in my duties of not trying to job search because I was trying to make good with what I had. I was trying to live as God willed. Suffering will never be a palatable thing because it is averse to the flesh. Therefore, to live and thrive, we must live in God. I'm not even going to try and reconcile my past hurts to this fact - what is in the past must remain there for now, for I am not strong enough to contemplate why things happened the way they did. I am going to focus on living the moment in God. Every second, every breath. Now I understand the Jesus prayer of the Orthodox monks.