Saturday, April 21, 2007

Helplessness and Offering Suffering

Lately I've come to comprehend just how helpless we all truly are. I told Jesus in Confession about my helplessness. There is nothing much I can do about the physical pain other than to try to keep going. Even my attitude is not easy to manage, for the physical pain is dominant until the soul can supersede the body. Bl. Paul Giustiniani explains much about how the soul and body work together, but that the body, the physical, does not cooperate with the soul as the soul cooperates with the body, the soul being the superior aspect.

This is why it is hard to practice mental prayer even though there have been joys and consolations in mental prayer. The body is more used to the joys and consolations of sweets and comforts. Yet, Bl. Paul says that through practice, the body can more and more acquiesce to the work of the soul, and mental prayer can become easier to enter into.

Last week, when complaining about the red velvet seat cushions someone donated to the Cathedral pews (for sitting on these pads somehow sends my back pain skyrocketing as no other kind of seating does except extremely soft, sinking chairs), the priest said to me, "Offer up the suffering! The suffering will be wasted if you don't offer it to God."

I snapped back that I would not offer my suffering to God, for I had read in Pere Louis Bouyer's book an exceptional explanation as to why we should not offer to God that which we do not want. It is no sacrifice at all.

And it is true to ponder, "Why would Jesus want more suffering and that which we do not want for ourselves?"

A sacrifice is not in getting rid of what we do not want. It is to give that which we love and prefer, but give it to another for their good and use.

So I explained to the priest that I would offer to God how my body would have felt had I not sat on the red velvet cushions, since I knew from experience this was not a good thing to do for my back--but didn't want to give up the prime location before the altar and sit on the side where I would not be able to see the Consecration.

It is a matter of perspective, all of it, and of attitude and intention. I offer to God the sacrifice of not sitting in the center, up front; and I offer Him the sacrifice of not having a body that feels no pain. I accept the pain, and although it is not easy to live with this pain, I really do not want Him to have to add it to the suffering He endures, far more than my drop of pain. I offer how it used to be to sit in front of the altar, and I offer Him the appreciation of that blessing for that time before the red velvet pew cushions arrived. I offer Him the kindness of the donor who purchased the cushions, for they surely intended them to make Mass sitting more comfortable. I offer what could have been: that we would not seek our comfort nor pay money to have it.

Yet, I do this in trying to live with this pain. I take any over-the-counter medication to try to tone the pain. I drink a cup of coffee with cream and sugar and eat oatmeal peanut butter chocolate sugary no-bake cookies to try to assuage the pain. Well, at least it is calming the pain down and giving a boost of energy, short-lived perhaps, but getting me up and about to try in ways of worship and perhaps some manual labor, to glorify God.

I offer the sacrifice of times in which I did not appreciate having no pain and not knowing what it was like to have pain, and now of not knowing what it was like to not have pain.

And, I offer the sacrifice of active life for contemplative life. But that is not much of a sacrifice, either, for now I read and know how preferable is the contemplative life, and how good is suffering as a means of reparation, if accepted and embraced with love.

Suffering is what unites me to Christ on His Cross, every moment, as I have much pain in each moment.


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