The beauty of suffering

There's a higher standard for humans than for cats and dogs
Pope Francis (C) caresses a guide dog during a private audience to members of the medias on March 16, 2013 at the Paul VI hall at the Vatican. (Alberto Pizzoli / AFP/Getty Images)

Pope Francis caresses a guide dog during a private audience to members of the medias on March 16, 2013 at the Paul VI hall at the Vatican. (Alberto Pizzoli / AFP/Getty Images)

The following comes from a December 2 Angelus article by Father Tadeusz Pacholczyk:

Sometimes people will point out: “We euthanize our pets when they suffer, and they are clearly creatures of God, so why can’t we euthanize a sick and suffering person who wants it? It seems like we treat our dogs and cats better than we treat our suffering family members.”

The way we treat animals, however, should not be the measure of how we treat fellow human beings.

In euthanizing a cat or dog, an assessment about the nature of the creature is rolled up into our decision to proceed. Our pets seem to process the world around them mostly in terms of pleasure and pain, oscillating between these two poles as they instinctively gravitate towards pleasurable experiences and engage in “mechanisms of avoidance” when they come up against pain or discomfort.

Animals lack that uniquely human power to reason about, resign themselves to, and allow good to be drawn out of pain. Animals can’t do much else in the face of their suffering apart from trying to skirt around it, escape the situation, or passively endure it.

But it would be false empathy, and a false compassion, to promote the killing or suicide of suffering family members. As human beings, we have real moral duties, and better options, in the face of our own pain and tribulations.

As human beings, we reach beyond the limits that suffering imposes by a conscious decision to accept and grow through it, like the athlete or the Navy seal who pushes through the limits of his exhaustion during training. We enter into an awareness of something greater behind the veil of our suffering when we come to accept it as an integral component of our human condition.

On the other hand, if our fear of suffering drives us to constant circumlocution and relentless avoidance, even to the point of short-circuiting life itself through euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide, we can miss those mysterious but privileged moments that invite us to become more resplendently human, with all the messiness, awkwardness and agonies that are invariably part of that process.

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  1. John Patrick says:

    Fifth commandment says: Thou shalt not kill. Reference is to people not animals.

  2. “ ‘I am Christ’s wheat,’ said St. Ignatius of Antioch, ‘and that I may be made into bread worthy of God, I must be ground by the teeth of lions.’ Never doubt that the best of crosses, the safest, the most divine is always that one which Jesus Himself ordains without consulting us. Increase your faith in this doctrine so dear to saints cast in the mould of Nazareth. Adore, bless and praise God in all the contradictions and trials which come directly from His Hand and, conquering the repugnance of your nature, say with all your heart, ‘Fiat,’ or still better, ‘Magnificat!’ ” (Mateo Crawley-Boevey) ” – Legion of Mary Handbook

    http://www.legionofmary.ie/images/uploads/files/Legion_Handbook_English05.pdf

    continued…

  3. Legionary visitation should be used to educate the patients to a true conception of their sufferings, that they may bear them in the proper spirit.

    They must be persuaded that what they regard as so intolerable is in reality a moulding to the likeness of Christ, and as such a great favour. “No greater favour,” says St. Teresa of Avila, “can His Majesty bestow on us than to give us a life such as was led by His beloved Son.” It is not difficult to bring home to people this aspect of suffering which, when once grasped, deprives it of half its sting.

    continued…

  4. The Beauty of Suffering – Legion of Mary Handbook

    They (the suffering) should be helped to realise the greatness of the spiritual treasures which they can acquire, by repeating often to them the exclamation of St. Peter of Alcantara to one who had long endured a most painful illness with admirable patience:—”O happy patient, God has shown me how great a glory you have merited by your illness. You have merited more than others can gain by prayer, fasting, vigils, scourging, and other penitential works.”

    http://www.legionofmary.ie/images/uploads/files/Legion_Handbook_English05.pdf

  5. “It is desirable that the spending of these spiritual treasures should possess a variety which is lacking in the earning of them. Moreover, a gathering for self will not
    exercise so potent an appeal.

    So the legionary will unfold the idea of the apostleship of suffering. The patients should be taught to busy themselves in the spiritual affairs of the world, offering the treasures of their sufferings for its myriad needs, and conducting a campaign whose force must be irresistible because it is at once prayer and penance.”

    “Such hands, raised to God,” cries Bossuet, “break through more battalions than those that strike.” – Legion of Mary Handbook page 237

  6. The readings posted above from the Legion of Mary Handbook were written down for an Evangelical Christian woman who had been suffering with horrific pain and also bedridden with an illness for several years. This woman was so incredibly moved by the words. This woman said that she had never in her entire life heard such an explanation that reached the core of her soul. She could now see how valuable her suffering was. The words posted above were the reason that she entered into the Catholic Church while bedridden and living on Protestant church grounds. She wrote, “I GET IT NOW!” “I am suffering for the broken body of Christ. The Head knows what the body should be doing but the body is not cooperating!”

    • Ann Malley says:

      “…She wrote, “I GET IT NOW!” “I am suffering for the broken body of Christ. The Head knows what the body should be doing but the body is not cooperating!””

      God truly blessed this woman, Catherine, and all those who bore witness to her revelation and conversion. Would that more Catholics could come to understand the value of suffering. Would that priests were taught as much so as to educate the flock about what proves, if given the opportunity to flourish, the choicest and most fecund graces.

      As I’ve said before, IT”S ALL REAL, and so suffering embraced for love of God leads straight to Him. “Do not weep for me,” should be the cry of every believing Christian.

      • Catherine says:

        “Would that priests were taught as much to educate the flock about what proves, if given the opportunity to flourish, the choicest and most fecund graces.”

        Beautiful! Thank you, Ann Malley! It is important to mention that right after this woman received Holy Communion for the very first time, she told her former Protestant pastor that she had entered into the Catholic Church. These were her words, “I told my former pastor, you do realize that you do NOT have the True Communion and you never did. The pastor responded, ” I know.” The choicest and most fecund graces indeed, Ann!

  7. Linda Maria says:

    Perhaps the Pope and many of his top Church leaders, also fear suffering! They want to promote a false Church that “goes along to get along,” instead of truly promoting and living by Christ’s true teachings, faithfully, and accepting the consequences of possible unpopularity, with the sinful Death Culture!

    • Anonymous says:

      If you think this Pope fears suffering, then you don’t know this Pope. Maybe you can get to know him better in 2016!

      • Linda Maria says:

        Anonymous, don’t be ridiculous! Pope (“Who am I to judge?”) Francis needs to FEARLESSLY give the world the CORRECT Catholic teaching, on Marriage, and on Homosexuality, too! Fearlessly, confidently, and faithfully!! If we remain in Christ, with total FAITH– we have the hope of a good life, and of Eternal Life, in Heaven, someday!! So– why FEAR His teachings, and His promises to us?? They are all TRUE!! And oh, yes– He DID tell us, that we will all have to SUFFER for them, but only in this world, and not in the next!!

      • Linda Maria says:

        Anonymous– the Holy Father may be a gentle and sensitive soul, who fears the ridicule of the evil world, and sleeping nightly on a painful “crown of thorns,” (which Bl. Pope Paul VI stated, painfully)!! YES– it is PAINFUL to follow Christ!! And our Holy Father does need to be STRONG, bless him!! He needs our daily prayers!!

      • Linda Maria says:

        One more thing Anonymous! I think our Holy Father needs to sternly and FEARLESSLY denounce ABORTION and EUTHANASIA, and confirm to all, the Catholic Church WILL EXCOMMUNICTE THOSE WHO MURDER!!!

  8. Linda Maria says:

    I will just say it once again– MURDER is a TERRIBLE crime!! You must face strong punishments for the crime of MURDER, in the secular courts, of the world!! Yet, the Church seems so WEAK, in her defense of the helpless unborn children, and the poor patients, in danger of euthanasia!! WHY??

  9. Linda Maria says:

    It is so hard to believe– yet “Catholic” California politicians, such as Gov. Jerry Brown and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (who freely receive Holy Communion as they wish!) — seem so hardened and insensitive to the evils of abortion, and harvesting fetal body parts, as well as the dangers of the poor, elderly, sick, and handicapped patients, potentially victimized, by legalized euthanasia– MURDER!! Such “Catholics” need the Church to give them DISCIPLINE!! And helpless unborn children, and those in danger of MURDER by legalized euthanasia– need PROTECTION, as far as is possible, by our Church leaders!!

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