THERE can be joy in suffering only if we identify
ourselves with Christ. With Christ, suffering becomes an act of
selfless love that can take on anything. Only in him can we find joy
and meaning in suffering. With him, suffering loses its purely
negative and painful character, and assumes the happy salvific
We need to process this truth of our faith thoroughly,
always asking for God’s grace and training all our powers and
faculties to adapt to this reality. That’s why Christ told us clearly
that if we want to follow him, we simply have to deny ourselves, carry
the cross and follow him. There’s no other formula, given our wounded
This self-denial and carrying of Christ’s cross will
enable us to see that suffering is obviously the consequence of all
our sins—ours and those of others. Embracing suffering the way Christ
embraced his cross unites our suffering with that of Christ.
Our motive for it is like that of Christ. It’s the desire
to conquer that suffering and ultimately our death through his death
and resurrection. It’s obeying God’s will just like Christ obeyed his
Father’s will. “Not my will but yours be done.”
Our reaction to any form of suffering in this life should
therefore be theological and ascetical. It should be guided and
inspired by faith. It should not just be physical or a natural affair.
It should reflect the spiritual and supernatural realities to which we
are all subject.
Everyday let us find ways of deepening our understanding
and appreciation of this truth of our faith, and also of acquiring the
capacity to live it as fully as possible, until we can truly say that
we are finding joy in our suffering.
Let us often meditate on the passion, death and
resurrection of Christ since it is from there that we can get the
proper inspiration on this matter.
At least we can say that we complain less when some
suffering comes our way, or we don’t lose our peace, we are actually
game with any suffering, our reaction to it goes beyond the level of
the senses and feelings, etc. We get more and more convinced that
going through some suffering is doing a lot of good to us and to
To train ourselves for this, we might have to actively
pursue a plan of what is called as active mortification. We make a
list of acts of self-denial and even of corporal mortification like
fasting, abstinence and the recourse to ascetical instruments like the
cilice and the discipline.
We should be familiar with these instruments that were
very useful in ages past. They can be very useful and relevant now
given the temper of the times when we live in an environment where
self-indulgence is a mainstream practice. We need to recover the use
of these instruments since they are effective in curbing our tendency
to indulge ourselves.
We have to overcome the apologetic attitude whenever this
topic is brought up. It’s not something to be feared or to be ashamed
about. It is actually part of the Good News that will bring us a lot
This truth of our faith should be discussed more often in
churches, families, schools and even offices and other workplaces.
From there, let’s hope that this truth gets to be considered seriously
in the bigger worlds of business, politics and international