Spirit Daily


Whether Chastisement Or Our Own Lives, God Sends Events To Bring Us  Closer

We continue to witness events purifying the world (see now the Philippines) and it's interesting how many times at Mass there will be a reading about God purifying His people but how few times the passage is then referenced in a sermon.

This is not to criticize priests. It is to say that we live at a time when it's not fashionable to speak of suffering. In a hedonistic society, "chastisement" has become a dirty word.

The irony is that that Christ personified suffering and turned it into the most joyful event in history -- His resurrection.

We too transcend the pain of this trial on earth when we accept suffering with trust and abandon. (That's when healing may take place.)

We also don't discuss "chastisement" because we don't understand it. And to do so let us turn to a little book that puts it right there for us all to comprehend, explaining why God reacts the way he does. We speak here of Maguerite Duportal's classic, How to Make Sense of Suffering.

"He knows all, not only because He sees all and recognizes all, but also because He ordains and allots our suffering," said Marguerite in the book, which we highly recommended. "This statement should neither shock nor scandalize us. It is a part of the teaching of the Church and gives to pain a sacred character. If we suffer, it is not by chance or by accident. Chance and accident are empty words."

That's hitting it on the head and speaks to us at a time of great natural disasters. When God is purifying an area, we should know, often it is those closest to Him who seem to suffer. "At times," explains the author, "God chastises us because we are guilty, and again He seeks to stimulate within us a new vigor, to test and try us out, so that we may make further progress. Sometimes He treats us as favored children, by depriving us of an illusory or mediocre good, in order to give or preserve one that is comparably superior.

"Thus He may wrest from our hands a dangerous object, whose hurtfulness our own eager imprudence did not perceive; or He may strip us of the best of human things, in order to make us cling with greater force and intensity to the supernatural, to the divine joys of His Love, in perfect and happy detachment from all else" [our italics].

Does He really intervene so directly? Yes, writes Duportal -- emphatically. "The pure and simple play of secondary causes is often advanced in order to explain the tragic accidents and catastrophes that desolate our planet," she said. "Namely, the free will of man or the inexorable evolution of natural phenomena is alleged. But God is the source of both the natural and the supernatural. Secondary causes revert to the first causes which He has established."

Give this quote to anyone who challenges you next time on the issue of purification!

Take it to the nearest canon lawyer.

Better purgatory here than in the hereafter!

A little suffering in the blindness of earth counts for more than suffering in the afterlife (where we now will have seen God and know beyond a certainty that He exists). When we suffer well on earth, He responds in some form with miracles -- whether a cure or tremendous consolation.

Didn't you ever notice how when we are attacked by evil we are afterward purged and granted a clearer perspective? And when we suffer well we grow in tranquility?

We don't have to live through a natural calamity to experience suffering! All of us have, are, or will do so. What we need to do is handle is properly -- turning it into joy as Christ did. "Suffering willingly borne before God, in His Presence, under His eyes, while the soul is in union with Him 'Who is,'" says Duportal, "becomes supremely sweet and consoling."


[resources: How to Make Sense of Suffering]

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