I'm re-reading Fr. Owen Francis Dudley's Masterful Monk series about the problem of human happiness. I just finished reading The Shadow on the Earth: A Tale of Tragedy and Triumph first published in 1945. It explores the meaning of pain and suffering. There are many non-fiction books on the subject, but fiction can often grip your mind and heart more powerfully than non-fiction.
The protagonist, in the flower of his youth, has an accident on a mountain in the Alps. He is carried, broken and bleeding, to a monastery where he is treated and pronounced permanently crippled from a serious spinal injury. How will he respond to the tragedy in his life? That is the conflict in the story.
In the introduction to the little volume, Fr. Dudley writes:
The problem of pain and suffering, with which this book is concerned, is prominent in the minds of men today. Unfortunately many only know it as presented by life's rebels -- coloured with malice, twisted with cunning sophisms. It would seem to be the delight of certain writers to dangle the problem on the point of a vitriolic pen and hurl it at the heavens in defiance. These rebels offer no solution of the problem of pain and suffering. Instead, they sound the clarion of revolt.Oh, they offer something all right, their "solution" -- euthanasia and assisted suicide. Suffering has no meaning for them but proves that God either doesn't exist or exists but is helpless to do anything about it, That suffering could be redemptive is beyond them. But this lovely little book illustrates how a man who thinks he loses everything, instead finds the pearl of great price.
They have no solution to offer.
If you are suffering or know someone who is, I suggest this little book. The series is being reprinted by St. Bonaventure Publications. They have republished five of the original nine and offer all five for $35. It's a bargain. If you like good Catholic fiction, treat yourself. Fr. John Hardon, in his book, The Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan, recommended Dudley's works. That's what got me started reading him. Thank you, Fr. Hardon!