suffering

Love your own cross

It’s easy to love other people’s crosses. I think especially about the heroic crosses borne by the martyr’s and saints through the ages, for the glory of God.

Today I was buried with assignments rapidly approaching, that I’m far behind on, so that these really must come before almost anything else. I’m not even able to spend long writing this post, because I need to catch up on sleep, so I can wake up and work some more. It’s painful.

I thought at one point, “Ah! If only I could be living and suffering for Christ’s service, rather than trapped in this work.” And then I saw once more, that this is my cross, this is my way to love and serve God. If I won’t accept this, there’s no way I’d ever accept the greater sufferings and service of the saints. This is how I’m meant to love God right now. This is my gift. This is my prayer.

 

Please pray for me. God bless you!

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The Sorrow of Christmas

Among my favourite Christmas songs are ‘I believe in Father Christmas’ by Greg Lake, and ‘Mad World’ by Gary Jules. If you don’t know them, they’re really, really sad songs. I like when they interrupt the merry, joyful, and jubilant songs.

Why?

Because they remind me that in the light of Christmas, the suffering of the world is absurd. Where is the peace for people of good will? If God became man, how do we allow such suffering? If God came to us as a babe in a manger, why is there such loneliness?

If God came down to earth, where is He when we need Him so much? And if we truly believe God was so close to us, how can we remain so far from each other, from those in need?

The feast of Christ the King reminds me that despite the madness of the world, victory is already won, on the cross and by our faith. But for now, by our faith (“the victory that has overcome the world” (1Jn 5:4)), we must continually bring Christ into the world, in expectation of and longing for his final return, when he will fill all in all. This is the great tension of Advent.

How do we bring Christ into the world? By abiding in him, that is, by loving as he loves. By receiving and sharing in his love. This is what Christmas demands.

We cannot believe that Christ is born, without bringing him to this suffering world. Nor can we be ready for him, except by being among the lowly with him.

I strongly encourage us to bring Christ this Advent. To open our hearts more than our wallets, and to join a suffering world. To lower ourselves with Jesus. To be a friend of outcasts.

Maranatha!

Euthanasia: Is life worth living?

That’s the crux of the matter really: Is life worth living? Every argument for assisted dying can be boiled down to that, for some people, life isn’t worth living.

Let’s be honest; it can be difficult to argue against this. Some people live in horrific pain. Some people have no hope. Some people feel incapable of doing any good. Some people feel they are a burden. Some people are lonely. Some people feel unwanted. Some people believe their lives aren’t worth living.

But I hold as a matter of faith that they are wrong. That life is always worth living, for everyone. I know this is demanding. Life is the setting of all suffering and struggle. It entails pain, weakness, failure, and humiliation. But it also entails love, and I believe that love is worth all, that love brings value to all.

If we believe when certain people say their own lives aren’t worth living, it is only natural to believe the same for people in similar circumstances who believe their own lives are still worth living. It makes perfect sense then, to persuade (i.e. pressure), these vulnerable people into ending their lives also. And so the throwaway culture goes on.

If we admit that for some people life isn’t worth living, other people, without terminal illnesses, will be more likely to accept that their own lives aren’t worth living either. I don’t have statistics, but I don’t doubt that accepting assisted dying for the terminally ill makes suicide a far less outrageous proposal for many people. If we can give up on anyone, anyone at all, anyone can give up on themselves.

It is never compassionate to give up on another’s life, even if they do it first. Compassion is about “suffering with”, entering into another’s suffering and struggling with them in solidarity. Compassion is the struggle to live, to love, in the midst of the darkness, death, and despair of all humanity. In all suffering, our own and others, we must struggle to bring love to the world; love which is all the stronger for suffering.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
-St. Francis of Assisi

Please pray for those who don’t believe their lives are worth living.

His love first

I would like to ramble a little about the love of God, please bear with me.

The place of complete love, is the body of Christ. It is broken, bruised, bloody, naked, transfigured in light, holy, resurrected, immersed in God, humble, raised up, simple, ridiculous, shocking, terrifying, vulnerable, pierced, and spread open for all. Here is the complete, unconditional gift.

However lowly you are, Jesus is below you. Upon the cross, his arms are open wide to embrace you; his flesh is exposed and his blood pours out, so that nothing is kept from you; and there is a hole in his side, so you may enter his heart. However rejected you are, Christ is more. However far you are from God, however beaten to a pulp your soul, Christ is with you even in your spiritual destitution. For our sakes, he became sin. Don’t let that be explained away or watered down.

The Word of God was made one with humanity, with suffering, failure, sin, and death, that all of these may be resurrected in him. He gives himself perfectly, that we may receive him, and so give ourselves perfectly in him.

To receive his love, to receive him, is the first thing. Lately I’ve become so caught up in myself, trying to bring love, to give myself, to give God, that I have neglected to look to receiving his love. Not that I’ve been working hard and neglecting prayer. I was trying to “spiritually” be a servant of God, set on doing his will. But this was impossible, insofar as I neglected to look to God as my saviour, as the one who loves me truly. “By this we know love- that he laid down his life for us.” [1Jn 3:16]

I had made the mistake of looking to the cross primarily as the work I must join; that I must love and suffer for the world with Jesus. This is true, but we must be united to the cross, to the body of Christ, as our salvation first, and consequently as our vocation. By our lowliness, our sin, our death, we enter Jesus’ body, broken and given up for us in complete love. Only then, may we be the body of Christ, the place of complete love. “We love, because he first loved us.” [1Jn 4:19] Once we receive his love, once we are united to him, our very existence in him means being given up for others, united to his holy cross.

To guard against this mistake, we ought to be keenly aware, that we need salvation constantly. It is not singular events, but a continuous reliance on Christ crucified. We never move on from salvation, but live it out, work it out, in God’s grace.

God bless you

‘I saw the Lord, all covered with wounds’

‘After a moment, I saw the Lord, all covered with wounds; and he said to me, Look at whom you have espoused. I understood the meaning of these words and answers the Lord, “Jesus, I love You more when I see You wounded and crushed with suffering like this than if I saw You in majesty.” Jesus asked Why? I replied, “Great majesty terrifies me, little nothing that I am, and Your wounds draw me to Your Heart and tell me of Your heart love for me.” After this conversation there was silence. I fixed my gaze upon His sacred wounds and felt happy to suffer with Him. I suffered, and yet I did not suffer, because I felt happy to know the depth of His love, and the hour passed like a minute.’

From the diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, n.252

Please pray for me.
God bless you

Broken saviour for broken souls

I see more and more clearly, that I am broken, and it’s scaring me. But I also see, that I have a broken saviour.
Why the God-man? Why the cross? Because God heard our cry, and saw our wounds, and dived in.
He did not come in strength, to impose goodness from outside; nothing can be truly fixed from outside itself. Instead, he came as one of us, as one of the oppressed. He came to be broken with us, for us, and to us. To give us his life, and that we may give our lives with him and through him.
That we should find his life in our death, and that we may die with him, the death in love that brings resurrection.
He fills our brokenness, our death, our poverty, with the life that is love, the love that is sacrifice, the sacrifice that means resurrection.
By the cross, Jesus is there in suffering, to bring us love, and that we may suffer in love with him, in humble and hopeful obedience to God, united to his cross, and so his resurrection.
Jesus did not die on the cross so that we don’t have to. He did not die to misdirect divine retribution. He died, to fill all the suffering and brokenness and sin in the world, to unite it to himself, to envelop it in the love of God, in the life of God, and to offer it to God.
He died, not to conquer these things from the outside, or to complete any transaction involving them, but to embrace them completely , and thus radically transform them.

And so, I am broken. But Jesus is broken with me, and in me. And I let him have my brokenness and weakness. I offer it through him, and with him, and in him, to God the almighty Father.

God bless you

“This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God; that the Son of God may be glorified by it.”

Why lord?

‘Many of you have asked the Lord – why lord? And to each of you, to your heart, Christ responds with his heart from the cross. I have no more words for you. Let us look to Christ. He is the lord. He understands us because he underwent all the trials that we, that you, have experienced. And beside the cross was his Mother. We are like a little child in the moments when we have so much pain and no longer understand anything. All we can do is grab hold of her hand firmly and say “Mommy”  – like a child does when it is afraid. It is perhaps the only words we can say in difficult times – “Mommy”.’

-Pope Francis

(from the his mass for the typhoon survivors at Tacloban, in the Philippines. Here’s the full thing)