Accepting various realities of life is possible with the right disposition towards those realities. Whether it is done so as a community of people or as oneself, with or without the comfort or security of the obvious things of earthly living, relationships, familiar environments, etc. There is one of many, peculiar reality of life, which not only is life altering but something that makes life defining, at the very core of it. That is the reality of suffering.

Some overcome suffering by either denying its importance (Stoicism) or its very existential reality (Spinoza), or further more by consciously seeking the self or that someone’s passing away from this world. No matter what the human mind prompts as a resolve towards one’s suffering, this intrinsically personal aspect of human life cannot be ignored or evaded each time it knocks the gates of our mortality. The world as we know, has since its inception, been the stage for human suffering in gastronomical measures. Some so intrinsically evil that recounting those ghastly episodes evoke a great measure of psychological, emotional and spiritual trauma. Mass murders, the holocaust, genocides, rape, continual spree of abortions (in some places by very crude practices), forced starvation, forced economic deprivation by lords of war and corruption, and the list keeps getting bloodier.

Ap-Photo-Dmitry-Lovetsky

Ap Photo Dmitry Lovetsky

Many philosophical and religious schools of thought have proposed soul traversing ideologies and paradigms about this in-expendable reality called suffering. A mammoth figure of Christian light to all generations, St. Augustine believed and taught the classic philosophical view of evil which states that since everything created was created by God and He called it all ‘good’ (Genesis 1:31), evil is not self existent, but rather is the absence of good. This essentially being a neoplatonic doctrine has a historic presence in Jewish philosophy as well.

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Antonio Rodríguez, “Saint Augustine”

So, if we look at suffering through the lens of St. Augustine, then we should believe that where there is no good, which in other words, through authentic Catholic verbatim, would mean an absence of authentic beatitudes, the suffering becomes real and many a times overwhelming too. Therefore, this Augustinian principle should naturally evoke in us the quintessential necessity of good in everyday life, in every culture, upon every soil. This ‘good’, however, is in fact, the fruit of the cause of creation in its known and unknown entirety. That cause is agape. Love, which is ‘the Creator’ Himself, God. Which is from the Creator, for the created, leading towards the certainty of eternity. 

The love of God is the stimulus for real balance in the world. It is the source of knowing God as He is (1 John 4:7). It is not only the perfect and only rightful abode of the human soul, it is also on the other hand that which transforms the soul into the most desired sanctuary of God for His eternal dwelling. “If we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us” (1 John 4: 12). Now that we know that it is love which cements the human soul in concreteness with God, it is the luminous light which should and can perpetually exterminate the darkness of evil, which is the good as God conceived it in His immaculate and holy mind.

The economy of this God-epitomised love does not create perfection of balance in world existence, it beautifully creates a rather a peculiar imbalance that progresses the soul’s upward pilgrimage to heaven in a way which is forever alien to the mind enslaved to the world. This love reaches its pinnacle in the ‘theo-phenomena’ of the Incarnation. The Incarnation is Truth and Love glorified. The Incarnation is Truth and Love personified. It is the perfection of good. It is a person. The person is Jesus Christ, the only begotten fruit of God the Father. It is this God-Man, Son of the living God, the eternal Good of His Father, who glorified immeasurable suffering by making it the only source of man’s salvation. The cup of suffering has been made into the chalice of His holy blood, poured out for the redemption of you and me, and as a ransom for eternal life in true freedom. 

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Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem

Christ our beloved Lord, the second person in the Holy Trinity, personalises suffering as a virtuous means of attaining God Himself. What the world uses (suffering) as an instrument to inflict pain, sorrow, hopelessness, fear, anxiety, isolation, animosity and even death – even ignominious in kind, the source of all good – God the Son, actually embraces this bottomless pit of darkness (suffering) as an innocent child might merely imagine to embrace a whole garden of exquisite flowers. When Satan, the one who was first to rebuke Perfect Love, and was cast out of the Beatific Presence of the Almighty Creator, looks at suffering as an opportunity to drag the human soul into his eternal abyss of self-hate, the God-Head Jesus, commanded suffering into a spring of His Holy Blood, which Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI so eloquently phrased it as – ‘transubstantiating the world’.

Suffering not only triumphs over evil, it inspires life itself. Suffering not only elevates the soul into the spiritual realm, but also brings hope into the material world. Suffering not only makes shame immaterial, it makes persecution glorious. But all this can be rightly attested to suffering, only when it is embodied in love. Love suffers for goodness sake. Goodness aspires to godliness. Godliness transforms suffering in the world into holiness.

~ J R A

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