“I’m nervous about my test tomorrow,” he admitted. “I don’t want to be uncomfortable. I don’t want to feel hungry and thirsty, but after the conversation today, I decided I’m going to offer up my sufferings for all those outside of the Catholic faith and for all people who have no religious freedom. I’m not going to let my suffering go to waste.”
He turned and walked away.
I stood in my kitchen, my hands full of ground beef, a little stunned. My son, the theologian.
This story brought to mind this old poll so we’re bringing it back for another go!
Elizabeth Scalia has a piece up about the importance of offering your pain up to the Lord. Once a common practice, these days the idea of “offering it up” tends to be said with an air of sarcasm. However, offering one’s pain or sorrow up for the sake of another is to follow in the footsteps of Christ:
In offering my difficulties to the crucified and dying Lord, I asked him to use them for his purposes and, in case he needed direction, I made a few suggestions: for those with emphysema or asthma, who were in need in those moments; for the intentions of a friend whose child is suffering from depression; for the sake of a family member from whom I am sadly estranged, but who needs healing — as does our relationship.
Making this prayer, I discovered an easing of my own difficulties. Some of that, perhaps, was thanks to the diversion of focus, but beyond that there was a true sense of enlargement — a joining of my meager and desperate act, which contained a mere seedling of love, to Christ’s wide, merciful, and all-encompassing love.
And this delivered a simple truth: praying for others, suffering for others, develops a counter-balance to the weight of our own weakness, our distrust, hate, and self-absorption. One cannot participate, even infinitesimally, in Christ’s agonies without participating in the expansion of his mercy toward all; that’s a humbling lesson.
The idea of offering up one’s pain for another is generous, and keeps God on your mind even in times of great hardship. It may even make hardships easier because we know we are putting up with the pain for the sake of another. What do you think?
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