Friday, November 5, 2010

Vatican II on Offering It Up

I received a short note today from someone who is struggling. In a previous note I learned that she struggles with an illness of the mind. She is able to do some volunteer work and to participate in some activities at her parish, but she still feels useless because she does not have a job and receives disability checks. She wrote: "I always feel like I'm not good enough and God is mad at me." I wrote back and shared with her a favorite but often overlooked quote from the Documents of the Second Vatican Council.

On December 8, 1965, at the close of the Council, Pope Paul VI delivered Messages from the Bishops to various groups. One of them was addressed "To the Poor, the Sick, and the Suffering," and it speaks to a common temptation--thinking that suffering is a sign that God is "mad" at you. On the contrary, the Bishops said that people who suffer are not being punished by God, nor are they abandoned by Him. The Bishops called them "the preferred children of the kingdom of God," and stated emphatically, "you are not alone, separated, abandoned or useless." Why? Because, as the Council Fathers said, "You are the brothers of the suffering Christ, and with Him, if you wish, you are saving the world."

When our sufferings are united to the Cross, they play a part in the salvation of the world. When our sufferings are offered up with Christ in His perfect sacrifice at Mass, they "are saving the world." At one time or another suffering is inevitable. It's part of life. But we do have a choice in regards to what we do with the suffering. If we wish, we can use it, as members of the Body of Christ, to carry on the work of Jesus, the Head of the Body. We can, as St. Paul wrote, fill up "what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ" (Colossians 1: 24). We can help save the world.

1 comment:

  1. You are certainly right in counseling that pain and sorrows are part of life, many people forget that and really expect that it could be otherwise.

    I kind of liked the fact that the woman felt she was not good enough though; there far too many people in our society who feel they ARE good enough, or at least they deserve to be treated as if they are. They never really understood the challenge of the Parable of the Talents ... much will be expected. Growing in holiness is a life-long challenge; we can't possibly be good enough, at least not in this life.

    Since we are meant to be changing throughout our life, I like the position of the woman you mentioned, one of humility, more than one of a huge self-image that so many people have, who feel they "deserve" heaven, even here on earth.

    Offering it up is an oft-forgotten teaching and consolation; thank you, Father, for the reminder.