The Mystery and Value of



Pain,  misery, blindness, paralysis, disease, the pain of loss, floods, earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, volcanos, leprosy, poverty, slavery, totalitarianism, the death of children, the death of the innocent, the untimely death of a parent, war, persecution, famine, pestilence, the pain of separation and countless  other forms of suffering are the lot of human life from the richest  and most powerful  to  the lowliest  and  most  impoverished.  Every civilization  throughout  human history has tried to understand, explain and somehow deal with the reality of suffering.  From the Greeks who told the story of Pandora's box and their humanlike gods who toyed with and molested them, to the  philosophers  of  the East  who  saw suffering as  either  caused  by  the  "illusion of  individual  existence" or the product of "desire and craving" as  did Sidhartha Gautama (The Buddha), there have been almost as many explanations of  suffering  as there have been ways to suffer. The Gnostics, Zoroastrians  and the Manicheans all believed in two gods one that was infinitely good and the other infinitely evil. The good god created the world of the spirit and the evil god created the material world which is filled with pain, death and sorrow. The suffering we  endure, according to them, is  due to the belief that our souls which contain a spark of divinity from the good god were somehow captured and imprisoned by the evil god in corrupt flesh. The atheist simply believes that suffering is just a part of material existence.  According to them there is no "reason" for it and all we can do is attempt  to limit  it and mitigate it as much as possible. Recently a "Reformed" (translate; Modernist) Jewish Rabbi wrote a book entitled "Why Bad Things Happen to Good People."  His conclusion was that God is just as upset about our suffering as we are but all He can do is watch us and commiserate with us because (according to the good Rabbi) He does not have "the ability" to stop our suffering. As a father or mother can only suffer with and for their child but cannot heal him or her of a terminal illness.


The fact that we suffer just does not make sense to humanity.  We have this constant sense that there is something unnatural  about pain, death, suffering, sorrow, violence and corruption.  Since  every culture tries  to give some explanation that will at least  seem logical given their own world view, then  religion always seems to be the main vehicle for trying to understand this seemingly  aberrant  phenomenon.  Of all the theories and explanations that the various cultures have put forth there is only one that makes the most sense and has the most integrated, cohesive understanding of this whole process.  That explanation is the one presented by the Roman Catholic Church as it has preserved the revelation of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  There are several points to remember when understanding this important subject from a Roman Catholic point of view:


1.         God is infinitely good and all of finite creation reflects His goodness.

2.         God is the Author of Life and His intention was that all living creatures

            should remain alive.

3.         God created all things in the                         perfection of their intended natures. He

            designed the universe in perfect                  order and harmony.

4.         Man is the pinnacle and summit of God's creation. God gave him dominion

            over the physical universe.

5.         Man is the author of sin, disease, corruption, pain, sorrow and death by

            his act of deliberate disobedience.

6.         Man wounded his nature by sin and brought  about disorder and  disharmony                                         throughout the universe over  which he was given dominion

7.            Creation, which  has  been  made  subject  to man, reflects man's spiritual state.   As  man's                    soul is disordered by sin so all of nature reflects man's disordered        soul.

8.         Jesus Christ is both God and Man. As the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, He became                        human in order to repair the damage done by sin.

9.         Jesus, redeemed  us  through  His  suffering,  death  and resurrection.  Nonetheless, we still                        must endure pain and suffering on earth until the General Resurrection when all of creation                      is made new by the redemption of Christ.

10.       Jesus, by his Cross and Resurrection has sanctified suffering making it possible for each of                        us to use it as He did to assist Him in the redemption of individual human beings.


By remembering these 10 principles we can begin to understand the whole process  which God uses for the redemption of humanity and how He uses men to save men. In turn we can become instruments of His grace in the world. In other words, by offering our suffering up and uniting it to His Cross we are capable of transforming all that is seemingly negative in the world into something powerfully good and holy.  This concept is unknown within any other philosophy, theology or explanation  of suffering.  Jesus has taught us that suffering is not simply something one must endure but that it is a gift to be used for the sanctification of oneself and of the whole world.


                "All this is as God intends, for it is your privilege to take

                Christ's part-not only to believe in Himbut to suffer for Him."