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Saturday, May 12, 2018

Faith and Suffering

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.
Those of you who know me personally are aware that our family has experienced a profound tragedy that has sunk us all into deep pain and grief. It is the kind of suffering that shakes you to the core and begs for answers. There aren't any. I feel like I've been gripped by a huge wave, swirling out of control, wondering if I'll ever come up for air. As a mother and grandmother, I look at all those I love around me and suffer for myself and them. Can a person really die of a broken heart?

And so I search, not for answers, but for meaning. Why do we suffer? If there's no purpose then life is meaningless, "full of sound and fury and signifying nothing."

The Catechism says this about suffering:
lllness and suffering have always been among the gravest problems confronted in human life. In illness, man experiences his powerlessness, his limitations, and his finitude. Every illness can make us glimpse death. Illness can lead to anguish, self-absorption, sometimes even despair and revolt against God. It can also make a person more mature, helping him discern in his life what is not essential so that he can turn toward that which is. Very often illness provokes a search for God and a return to him.
But what if it's more permanent than illness? What if it's the pain of Rachel weeping for her child? Is there consolation for that pain? Right now I can't answer that question. When one is in cave darkness, he can't see. Neither can one see in a blinding, dazzling light. Right now, I feel like we're in cave dark. Will we ever see the light again?

As Christians, we say we live in the "light of Christ." But what do we do when that light seems like darkness?

Psalm 34:18 promises that the "Lord is close to the brokenhearted." I accept that on trust because the Lord seems very far away at present. But I'll share a note I received from the Poor Clare Sisters in Alexandria. I depend on their strength when I have none. Here's what they wrote to us:
It is difficult to find words to address the profound sorrow you and your family are experiencing.... All words will fall short and be insufficient. Only the Word of God has the power and the ability to address the situation and that one word is, "Jesus." We cling to this word of infinite mercy and majesty, trusting that He will not let any harm come to a soul that was suffering a sorrow which he could not express.... You are all very close to us in prayer these days.
Are you suffering right now? Are you brokenhearted? Know then that I'm praying for you and offering my suffering for you. All of us in the ocean of suffering need one another to keep each other afloat with the lifeline from our Savior.

Lord Jesus, you wept over Lazarus, give us consolation in our suffering

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.


  1. It is a grief that will not shake off. However, keep the praying. I do still sometimes shake my Irish fist and still ask why....then I remember how may of us there are walking this walk with Mother Mary. Love you all.

  2. Yes, I am watching my husband die by inches from an incurable cancer. The delays in treatment and his increasing pain strike at my heart. It is hard to lift myself up but I must. All activities except one apostolate I can do from home have had to cease. I cannot be 'social' or chit chat except with close family and my few very best friends. I wonder if my husband of many decades will survive the year. How can I manage our home and property (older home with lots of overly mature landscaping) by myself. My children are grown and although they live not too far away, they are busy with their own jobs, etc. I will be alone in the not too distant future but before that time, I must watch the continued decline, suffering, and then death of my husband. Hard to put into words how that feels.

  3. Let us carry each other in the pocket of our hearts. I'm offering today for you both.

  4. Mary Ann -
    May you be strengthened with the power of God, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience.
    God has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom of His beloved Son. As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so live in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in Him, just as your were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. In Christ all things hold together.
    May the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, guard your heart and your mind Christ Jesus. Amen!

  5. Thanks fRED,

    I trust that God will be bring good out of this Good Friday in our lives. As we embrace the cross, I'm assured that we will rise with Him. And every day when I go to Mass and receive His Body and Blood I know He is my strength and consolation.

    1. It's more like 40 years in the desert....but you know for me it was Lent and this stupid woman was praying to be more like Mother Mary. Love you sis.

  6. Offered you up at our vigil Holy Mass Saturday evening, Mary Ann.

    God love you and yours and please know I feel the same as St. Paul where he says, "If one member (in the mystical body of Christ) suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together."

    Catechist Kev

  7. I appreciate the prayers very much. Mother's Day was the first painful hurdle. My husband's birthday is this weekend and we will be so painfully aware that Brendan won't be there to celebrate. Then there is the day he should have graduated from high school. Al of these events will be like putting your hand in the flame of a candle and holding it there. I'm praying for consolation and peace. We're not there.

  8. Mary Ann, please accept my condolences. I will include you in my prayers at Mass.

  9. Thanks Dymphna.

    We just got home from our daughter's. Brendan's mom and dad need many prayers. They are suffering greatly as we all are, but them especially.

    We continue to spend a lot of time up there so the younger children don't come home to an empty house after school. All our grandchildren are so dear to us and this puts them all at heightened risk of suicide. We are offering all our suffering for their protection.

    Dear Jesus, Lord of Life, protect them all. Mother Mary, wrap them in your mantle of maternal love.