Monday, November 29, 2010

Rest in Peace, Fr. Redemptus

Today I concelebrated the funeral Mass of Father Redemptus of the Cross, of the Order of Discalced Carmelite Friars. He died on November 13, just shy of his 93rd birthday, and today his body was laid to rest on the grounds of Holy Hill, the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians.

I last saw Father Redemptus on Friday evening, November 5 when I celebrated the opening Mass for the monthly All Night Vigil of Reparation and Prayer. Father Redemptus was one of the founders of this vigil which has been going on in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee for 45 years. This coming Friday and Saturday will be the 543rd vigil since its beginning and it will be held at St. Florian's, the Carmelite parish in West Milwaukee where Father Redemptus served for 27 years.

As the Clerical Moderator of the All Night Vigil, Father Redemptus was the spiritual heart of a little community of the faithful that has formed. Whenever I celebrated Mass or spoke at one of the vigils, I made a point of seeing Father Redemptus. I always felt that in the presence of this gentle and affirming priest I was in the presence of holiness. His smile and words radiated the joy and love of the Good Shepherd. Father Redemptus was there at every vigil, celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation with the many people who lined up to confess their sins and receive absolution from this man of God. Then he would concelebrate Mass, in recent times from a wheelchair and earlier this month, hooked up to oxygen.

The funeral was a fitting tribute to God's grace and the wonders it can do in the lives of all who surrender completely to it. Father Jude Peters, the Prior of the Carmelite community, spoke before the final commendation and he ended with these words: "And now it begins." What begins? The new life of Father Redemptus, for on the back cover of the funeral program, next to a drawing that St. John of the Cross sketched of Jesus looking down from the cross, were words of St. Therese: "I am not dying; I am entering into Life!" But I think something else is beginning as well. I can't help thinking that Father Redemptus, connected to us in an even deeper way now that he has passed from this life, will begin interceding for all those who were so dear to him in this life. He had always interceded for them, but now, having entered into eternal life, he can intercede for them in more powerful ways. Good-bye Father Redemptus. Thank you for being so supportive of me and the Apostleship of Prayer. I look forward, with the help of God's grace and your own intercession, to seeing you again.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


On Monday I spoke at the annual Thanksgiving Breakfast sponsored by the West Allis Community Improvement Foundation. It's an event that raises money for food pantries in the area and the theme is "Thanks and Giving." Here is the gist of what I said.

Think back on the first words that a child learns. Usually it's "Ma-Ma" or "Ma," "Da" or "Da-Da." They are words that show the recognition of a loving care-giver, protector, and provider. Jesus taught us to recognize God in the same way, calling upon God as "our Father" or "Abba."

What are the next words that a child learns? Most kids, thinking only of themselves, grab for things. Parents ask them, "What do you say?" And they respond, "Please." Jesus also taught us to ask for what we need as God's humble and trusting children. God knows what we need, but we ask because in asking we show our love and our trust. We say "Please" to God.

And the next important word that a child learns? It often happens that after the child receives that for which he or she politely asked, the parents again ask, "What do you say?" And the child responds, "Thank you."

Thus we come together today to say "Thank You" to God our Father.

While the legend of the beginning of Thanksgiving Day takes us back to the 1600's and the Pilgrims of Massachusetts, the first officially proclaimed Thanksgiving Day was in 1777, in the middle of our nation's War of Independence. General George Washington and the Colonial Army had won the Battle of Saratoga and the Continental Congress proclaimed a day on which to give thanks. Here is part of that proclamation:

"FOR AS MUCH as it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for Benefits received, ... It is therefore recommended to the, legislative and executive Powers of these UNITED STATES to set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December next, for SOLEMN THANKSGIVING and PRAISE: That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts...."

Later, in 1889, President George Washington proclaimed another Thanksgiving Day with these words:

"Now therefore do I recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us."

However, it wasn't until 1863, in the middle of perhaps the greatest crisis the United States has faced--its Civil War of state against state, citizen against citizen--that President Abraham Lincoln declared a Thanksgiving Day that has been celebrated annually ever since. It's amazing to think that in the midst of such difficult times, Lincoln would focus on gratitude. He wrote in part:

"The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God."

Then, after acknowledging as well the "civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity," Lincoln continued to enumerate the many blessings the nation had received, including the fact that other nations had not used the Civil War as an excuse to exploit our weakness and attack us. He went on:

"No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God.... It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens."

After proclaiming this Day of Thanksgiving, Lincoln went on to acknowledge the sins of the nation that led to the Civil War, to ask that his fellow citizens look after those in need, and to pray for peace:

"And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union."

After learning "Please" and "Thank you," a child must often learn another word. The child's tendency, having received something, is to hold on to it and say "Mine!" Parents step in at this point to say "Now share some with your brothers and sisters."

Jesus taught the same. He taught that our one, Heavenly Father's sun shines on the just and the unjust and His rain showers upon all His children. We come together not only to give thanks but to give, to share of the bounty we have. This is the community spirit that makes a great city.

Our world tends toward a selfish and greedy individualism, insisting "Mine!" Jesus shows us that true happiness is found in giving. Ultimately all that we have and all that we are--all our talents that have enabled us to achieve and acquire anything--is a gift. Without having first received the gift of life from God through our parents, we would be nothing, we would have nothing. Thus, recognizing that all is a gift, we share all, we return all to God.

General George Washington and the Continental Congress in 1777 said this as well. After declaring the first Thanksgiving Day they said:

"That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor...."

"Consecrate." The word means to dedicate or to set aside for a holy purpose. This is what the Apostleship of Prayer recommends that people do every day by making an offering of their day to God. After acknowledging that every day with all its minutes and hours is a gift from God, we say "Thank You" and share the gift by consecrating or offering our day to God. We share our day with God and the people God places in our lives each day. This is the meaning of St. Paul's words in his Letter to the Romans, Chapter 12, verse 1: "Offer your bodies, [your selves], as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God your spiritual worship."

This is what our nation was founded upon. This is what we need to keep alive. This is what you are doing. Thank you!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Examen

I'm going to try to piece this post together from my faulty memory. I like to tell people that I have a steel-trap mind, shaped like a sieve. Last Sunday I gave a talk at St. Catherine Laboure Parish in Glenview, IL, a suburb of Chicago. The talk was part of a monthly series on the topic of discernment, and my talk was on finding God in the details of the day. Unfortunately, I misplaced my folder with notes and materials for my talk, and friends are now joining me in prayers to St. Anthony to find it for me.

From 1984 to 1988 I was the vocation director for the Jesuits of the Wisconsin Province, a seven state area in the upper Midwest. You could call it the "W Province" because it stretches from Wisconsin in the east to Wyoming in the west. As vocation director I helped people discern their vocations. In some cases that led to men applying to and being accepted into the Jesuits. In other cases, just as much "success stories," I helped young men discern that God was calling them to other vocations, including marriage. In fact, a couple years ago at a parish in Minnesota, I met a woman who told her two daughters that I was responsible for their birth! I had helped her husband discern that God was calling him to marriage and in following that call he was given a wonderful wife and beautiful daughters. One of the things I highly recommended to people discerning their vocations was the practice of the Daily Examen or what we at the Apostleship of Prayer like to call the Evening Review.

The idea is this: we don't discern in a vacuum. In order to make a major decision, in order to discern God's will in regard to a vocation, it's important to develop the habit of looking for signs of God's presence and activity every day. This helps us to have a discerning heart, one that is tuned into God's wavelength and better able to see the directions that God is giving us every day.

But before we can do this, it's important to become more familiar with how God operates. We have a record of that, a record of God's activity in the lives of individuals and nations. It's the Bible. Thus, to develop a discerning heart it's important to spend a little time every day prayerfully reading the Bible. In this way we will become familiar with the ways that God works. By trying to enter into the mind and heart of Jesus in the Gospels--what He was thinking and feeling, how He acted--we can receive direction for our own thoughts, feelings, and actions.

When we look at Jesus in the Gospels, especially in the Gospel of Luke, which will be the focus for the Sunday Gospels in the coming year, we see that Jesus often spent time alone at night in prayer. I think that part of that prayer involved looking back on His day and seeing how God the Father was present, walking with Him and speaking to Him. Just look at the parables that Jesus told. They were drawn from every day events. He drew lessons from watching a farmer sowing seed in the field and seeing it fall on different types of soil. He saw the Kingdom of God in a woman baking bread and using a little yeast to make a large amount of dough rise. He saw the Provident care of His Heavenly Father in the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. He heard the news of the day--a tower falling on some laborers and killing them--and used this experience to teach. Yes, Jesus certainly must have gone over the events and people of His day, finding in them the presence and love and direction of His Father and ours.

From this basis, then, we can commit ourselves to reading the Bible of our lives. God didn't stop speaking to us when the last page of Scripture was written and the books of the Bible were officially approved. The God who spoke throughout history, whose activities and words are recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures, and who spoke definitively through His Word made flesh, His only-begotten Son, continues to speak to us through the events and people of our lives. Sometimes the word He speaks is an affirming word. Sometimes it's challenging. Either way, we won't hear it unless we take some time each day to listen, to look back on the events of the day in order to discern what God was trying to tell us through them.

So the first thing to do, in the words of a commercial, is to "just do it!" Schedule time every day for a review of the day. St. Ignatius Loyola felt this was so important to the members of the order he founded, the Jesuits, that he told them that apart from the Eucharist and the required prayers of the ordained, this is the one devotion or prayer that they ought never omit. Through the daily examen they would be able to seek and find God in all things.

There is no magic in when the examen is to be done. I find that in the evening I am often too tired or too distracted to do it and so I make it part of my morning prayer. With a cup of coffee at my side I look back on the previous day and I write. I find writing helps me to focus. Others may find taking a walk after supper and reflecting on the day helps them to not not only exercise the body but also the spirit. At the Apostleship of Prayer we have an Evening Review CD that people pop into their car on their way home from work and this leads them through a prayerful review of their day.

Is this the Examination of Conscience? I've heard that the word that we translate as "conscience" has various meanings in other languages. Strictly speaking, an examination of conscience focuses on our weakness and sins, what we've done wrong, what we are sorry for. We make such an examination when we prepare for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. But this examination or examen is broader and so it has been called the "Awareness Examen" or the "Examen of Consciousness." Fr. George Aschenbrenner, S.J., in a 1972 article, popularized this approach. A condensed version of that article can be found on a web site that's sponsored by Loyola Press.

There is also no magic in how the examen is to be done. Different individuals and groups offer different approaches or steps. The following is one five step method:

1. Spend a moment slowing down and being aware that you are in God's presence. St. Paul, quoting a Greek poet, said that in God we live and move and have our being. God is always present to us, but we are not always present to God. We are often distracted and so we begin our brief period of prayer pausing to reflect on God's presence.

2. Spend a brief period of time in thanksgiving. What are you thankful for at this very moment? This prayer of gratitude puts you in a positive frame of mind that allows you to be more open to God's presence in your day. It "primes the pump" for your review.

3. Ask for the help of the Holy Spirit to see yourself as God sees you. Most people tend to see the glass as half empty rather than half full. If I tell someone nine very positive things about him or herself and one negative or critical thing, that person will tend to go away thinking only about the one negative thing. You need the Holy Spirit to have perspective, to see yourself with honesty and also with love, unlike the one whom Scripture calls "the Accuser" who loves to disturb you by leading you to focus only on what is negative.

4. Review your day. Imagine you are watching a video of your day, seated on a couch with Jesus. Some parts you may fast-forward through, but other parts you will pause at in order to savor or reflect upon: what was God telling you through that event or person? How did you feel? What do those feelings tell you? Was God affirming you or challenging you through that moment of your day? You may want to fast-forward through some parts but Jesus may want you to pause so that with the help of the Holy Spirit at that moment He can teach and guide you. This part is the core of the examen.

5. Have a heart-to-Heart talk with Jesus. What comes to your mind as you finish your review? How do you feel and what do you want to say to Jesus? Are you sorry for anything? Are you grateful? Are there any signs in your day that point in a specific direction for the major decision you are making? You might write those down and keep an ongoing record of them to share with a spiritual or vocation director. Finish your prayer with a resolution or act of faith, hope, or love, committing yourself to following the Lord as best you can in the next day that God is giving you.

At the Apostleship of Prayer we encourage people to not only make an offering of their day with a Morning Offering, but, when the day is over, to review the offering that one has made. Doing this will help you to be more sensitive to God's presence and direction in your daily life. It will make you more aware of the many opportunities to renew your offering during the day and to seek God's will in the events of your life.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Magis Institute

I stayed an extra day in southern California after my recent retreat there. No. It wasn't just to avoid the cold and gray Wisconsin November in order to bask in the warmth and sun. I went to visit a Jesuit friend, Fr. Robert Spitzer, former president of Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA and currently running the Magis Institute located in Irvine, CA.

It was an amazing visit. Fr. Spitzer's latest book is already in its fourth printing. It's entitled "New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy." As a result of this book and his response to the Physicist Stephen Hawking's claim that "the universe can come from nothing," Fr. Spitzer was invited to be on "Larry King Live." He recently traveled to Rome where, after speaking, he received invitations to 22 different countries to speak about his work. He is in the process of creating a curriculum for schools and on his Magis Center of Reason and Faith web site he has an "Ask Fr. Spitzer" column as well as other great resources.

Fr. Spitzer and I talked about ways that the Apostleship of Prayer and the other part of the Magis Institute--the Magis Center for Catholic Spirituality--might collaborate. I've already been working a bit with the Center which has an email service that sends daily reflections written by Jesuits to subscribers around the world.

I'm blessed to have such a brilliant friend who is also a holy Jesuit. In his homily at Mass on Monday morning, he talked about the story of the blind man of Jericho (Luke 18: 35-43). Jesus answered his prayer that he might see by healing him. Fr. Spitzer has made this same prayer. His eye sight is very bad and he needs the help of others to read the books he uses for his research. How much more good he could do if only he had good vision! Yet, he pointed out, that while God has not answered his prayer for healing, he has received another gift that is perhaps better. Humility. I'm reminded of what St. Ignatius wrote in "The First Principle and Foundation" of his "Spiritual Exercises": "Our one desire and choice should be what is more conducive to the end for which we are created." That end? "To praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to" find salvation. Thus, "as far as we are concerned, we should not prefer health to sickness," or, in Fr. Spitzer's case, good eye sight to poor eye sight. Of course it is natural to want good eye sight and to pray for it. But in the end, when God has a better gift for us that is more helpful to our ultimate goal of salvation, we can accept even blindness as a gift. It's tough, but holiness isn't for wimps. I'm grateful to Fr. Spitzer for the reminder.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Magnificat Women's Retreat

On Thursday I got up bright and early (something more to "offer up") in order to catch a 6 AM flight to Orange County, California where Kathleen Beckman picked me up. Kathleen is a regional coordinator for a Catholic Women's group called "Magnificat" and is the author of several books including one entitled "Rekindle Eucharistic Amazement." We drove about an hour to the Passionist Retreat House located in Sierra Madre, north of Los Angeles, where I'm helping on a retreat for about 85 women.

We began Thursday evening when I gave a talk introducing the retreatants to the "Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius," and leading them in a consideration of what is called "The First Principle and Foundation." Yesterday I gave two talks: "The Call of Christ the King" and "Discernment."

Today I'll be available for spiritual direction and the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and Claretian Father John Hampsch, noted for his ministry of healing, will be giving talks on the gifts of the Spirit and healing the family tree.

Our retreat ends tomorrow and I'll be giving a talk on St. Ignatius' last exercise, "The Contemplation to Attain the Love of God," and how we can live the total offering he proposes by praying and living the Daily Offering.

Though Milwaukee was in the 60's when I left, our plane had to be de-iced in Denver--a sign of things to come in the upper Midwest. Thus I'm drinking in the beauty of California: the sun, the warmth, and the fragrant flowers right outside my window. I'm also drinking deeply of the faith of the retreatants who are an inspiration as they open themselves up to the Holy Spirit and follow the call to go deeper in their spiritual lives this weekend. This too--this joy--is something to be offered up.

Monday, November 8, 2010

"Put Out Into Deep Water..."

I'm not in "deep water" but in Leipsic, Ohio, at St. Mary's Parish, for a mission that began with my preaching at the weekend Masses. The title of this mission is "Pray Always?" The bulletin description of the theme goes like this: "St. Paul said to 'pray always' but how can we do that? Isn't that impossible?" The three evening talks are: "Put out into the Deep," "Entering into the Heart of Jesus," and "Living a Eucharistic Life."

Last night I began my talk with a passage from St. Luke, Chapter 5: 1-6. In this story Jesus asks Peter to allow Him to use his boat as a platform from which He could address the crowd that had assembled by the shore of the lake. Peter agrees and afterwards Jesus tells him, "Put out into the deep water and lower your nets for a catch." You can just imagine Simon Peter thinking, "what can this carpenter's son tell me about fishing?" Yet he follows Jesus' instructions. Why? He trusted Jesus; but where did this trust come from? He had spent time with Jesus and became His friend. Out of this friendship and trust came obedience. And how that obedience was rewarded! The story says that Peter caught so many fish the nets began to tear and he had to call over his partners in another boat. Even then, both boats were close to being swamped. Trusting Jesus and following His directions give what we need.

Pope John Paul II used those words of Jesus to put out into the deep, or "Duc in Altum," in his Apostolic Letter as we began the new millennium, "Novo Millennio Ineunte." He wrote that the Church didn't need new programs; rather, each individual Christian needed to go deeper in his or her spiritual life. He wrote: "our Christian communities must become genuine 'schools' of prayer, where the meeting with Christ is expressed not just in imploring help but also in thanksgiving, praise, adoration, contemplation, listening and ardent devotion, until the heart truly 'falls in love'" (#33). Notice, besides prayers of petition, Pope John Paul mentions six other ways of praying that have more to do with giving and receiving than asking.

Peter didn't ask Jesus for anything. He listened, received the word of Jesus, responded to it, and then received. Of course asking or prayers of intercession are important, but they should not be the only prayers we make.

But how do we "pray always" as St. Paul directs? I don't think anyone has answered that question better than Fr. Walter Ciszek, S.J. in his book "He Leadeth Me," the story of how he not only survived the Soviet Gulag but also grew in his faith there. He writes:

" my opinion, the Morning Offering is still one of the best practices of prayer--no matter how old-fashioned some may think it. For in it, at the beginning of each day, we accept from God and offer back to him all the prayers, works, and sufferings of the day, and so serve to remind ourselves once again of his providence and his kingdom. If we could only remember to spend the day in his presence, in doing his will, what a difference it would make in our own lives and the lives of those around us! We cannot pray always, in the sense of those contemplatives who have dedicated their whole lives to prayer and penance. Nor can we go around abstracted all day, thinking only of God and ignoring our duties to those around us, to family and friends and to those for whom we are responsible. But we can pray always by making each action and work and suffering of the day a prayer insofar as it has been offered and promised to God."

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Dishonest Stewards?

Last night I celebrated the opening Mass for the monthly All-Night Vigil in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. I thought the readings fit in very well with our call to offer ourselves, in St. Paul's words (Romans 12: 1), as "a living sacrifice."

The Gospel (Luke 16: 1-8), the Parable of the Dishonest Steward, should strike us as shocking. That's the nature of Jesus' Parables. They are designed to get people's attention and make them think. In this case we have to wonder: is Jesus commending dishonesty? No, He's commending prudence. He says that "the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than the children of light."

People who succeed in worldly affairs have a plan and stick to it. They have foresight and plan ahead. They keep their focus on their goal by getting a daily planner and making sure that every hour of the day is used in a way that helps them achieve their goal. One slogan they use is: "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."

Are the children of light so focused? Clearly St. Paul in the first reading (Philippians 3: 17-4:1) thinks not and it brings him to tears. "Their minds are occupied with earthly things." They focus on food and other bodily pleasures. Paul reminds them that "our citizenship is in heaven." That's our goal and should be our focus. We should plan our days and live them with that goal in mind.

We hear the Parable of the Dishonest Steward and point our fingers at him. What a crook! Yet we must look at the three fingers pointing back at us. He is each one of us. How? It's really quite simple. The Dishonest Steward used his Master's wealth to buy friends and security for himself. We are the Dishonest Steward whenever we do something without God in mind. All that we have and all that we are is not our own. Our talents, our possessions, our bodies, our very life--all this belongs to God. All is a gift from God given to us to be used responsibly, to be used according to God's plan, to be used to help us attain the heavenly goal for which God created us. When we use our talents, our time, our lives in any other way, we are actually stealing from God.

This is where the Morning Offering comes in. Each morning we want to recognize that everything is God's gift, including our life and the minutes of the day ahead of us. It is God's gift that has been entrusted to us and we are to use the gift of each day for His glory and honor, in service of God and our neighbor. Having recognized each day as a gift, we then offer that day to God. Then we try to live the offering we've made and at the end of the day reflect back on what we actually ended up offering to God. Was it worthy of Him or not? Or did we misuse the gift that was given?

If we do this, we will be prudent. We will live with our sights set on our heavenly goal and we will make choices that help us attain that goal.

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.