The Memory of Suffering

by Father Sebastian McDonald, C.P.
the race

The CPPs treasure the memory of the Sufferings of the Lord as the centerpiece of our lives. To onlookers, perhaps this orientation sounds somber and depressing. Who wants to embrace the thought of suffering as a focal point? Well, as a matter of fact, suffering is not the focal point but simply the consequence of what IS the focal point: the attainment of a goal or task one wishes to accomplish. For instance, if a prophet like Jeremiah badly wants to communicate the word of the Lord, he or she will suffer whatever consequences follow from announcing the message, should it be bad news to those hearing it. Or if one is engaged in a race, as St. Paul mentions, then one readily accepts the often tremendous effort, and exhaustion, needed to compete well. In these examples, suffering is a follow-up to what one badly wants, and so it proves acceptable. Christ died on the cross to save us all: He wanted this badly. So the CPPs treasure whatever suffering accompanies what they badly want. The secret here is: badly wanting something. And it is our faith that provides us a treasure-trove of things we should sincerely desire, and in view of which we are willing “to pay the price”.

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Author: CPP

We are a community of laymen and laywomen who, with vowed Passionists, seek to share in the charism of St. Paul of the Cross through prayer, ongoing spiritual formation, and proclamation of the message of Christ Crucified.

4 thoughts on “The Memory of Suffering”

  1. Suffering is one of the most powerful agents of change man can experience and one of the means God uses to help man experience growth. The way we are able to learn the lesson suffering has to teach us is to embrace the suffering. That embrace allows us to move through the suffering and learn its lesson . The embrace is necessary to open our self up to accept the growth offered. Humility is necessary to allow the surrender which is part of the embrace.

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  2. Two stories relating to suffering come to my mind.
    One happened over twenty-five years ago, when a grammar school classmate announced her wedding. Unfortunately, previous to the “big” news came some somber news to her and her family, her mother was diagnosed with cancer, severe cancer with low life expectancy. Her mother had been ill with a cold that just seemed to hang on no matter what over the counter medications she tried, When the diagnosis was confirmed and she heartbroken told her daughter of a poor chance to attend her wedding both mother and daughter decided to pray to Our Lady for solace and a solution.
    In the days during their prayer vigil the message came to them ” forego your chemo till after the wedding and trust in my son”. The mother had thought to forego chemo because she wanted to be strong and available to her daughter as the wedding plans ensued, now she had a highly respected authority advisng her to do the same.
    The women trusting in the response did not begin her chemo, the wedding plans went on and they did move the wedding date up so that the mother could save her strength as much as possible.
    The wedding day came and all the goom and bride’s families and friends were in attendance. Her mother weak, was still able to dress and with the help of a wheelchair accompany her husband as they walked their daughter down the aisle.
    The next day the mother consented to chemo, subsequently 8 weeks later she died, but in her sacrificial love for her daughter she attended the wedding and gave herself as her wedding gift to the young couple. Giving the gift of memories they have cherished through these years.
    (A bonus to her post-ponement of the chemo was the the mother did not require a wig for the
    wedding ceremony, which made her quite happy!)

    A second story abou a man who deiscovered he had rectal cancer, after 5 1/2 years of his marriage, when his only child was still in kindergarten. This brave man made the decison to undergo radiation, 5 days /week for 6 weeks, followed by a colostomy surgery in an attempt to extend his life for his family, stating had he not gotten married/fathered a child he would have accepted his diagnosis and let the cancer have its way…this man is still alive today and just celebrated his 29th wedding anniversary and his son’s 28th birthday.
    This is a very short synopsis of the last 23 years of my marriage to Charlie Kremer, the man who makes my dreams come true.

    Sacrifice done in the name of love, likened to Jesus’ death on the cross, never stops giving love to those who receive it, and setting the example of perfect love, even many decades later.

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  3. Three years ago I spent 101 days in a nursing home. I once described it as “my agony in the garden”.. It was certainly not where I wanted to be but since I could’t stand up on my own, it was where I was and needed to accpt it. I knew everyone there was trying to help me, but remember my tears as they were trying to get me to stand up on one foot while the other food was in a cast. So suffering was part of the road back to standing on my own two feet. There were times when my only prayer was that they would leave me alone, but I knew I had to do whatever they asked of me so I could go home. So what I did was pray. I prayed for acceptance, I prayed for patience and I prayed that I could continue to pray. As I looked around me I saw many people suffering from broken bone, recovering from a stroke, all sorts of things people are in nursing homes for, so I began to pray for them. There is so much suffering in this world. I can’t relieve any of it really, but God can and does because he walks with us as we encounter our own “agony in the garden.”

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