Skip to comments.Redemptive Suffering
Posted on 03/14/2010 1:05:59 PM PDT by stfassisi
A Summary: Redemptive suffering is the belief that human suffering, when accepted and offered up in union with the Passion of Jesus, can remit the just punishment for one's sins or for the sins of another. Like an indulgence, redemptive suffering does not gain the individual forgiveness for their sin; forgiveness results from Gods grace, freely given through Christ, which cannot be earned. After one's sins are forgiven, the individual's suffering can reduce the penalty due for sin.
We believe God loves mankind so much that He made Himself human in Jesus in order to redeem mankind. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (Jn 3:16)
We believe our suffering can be united to that of Christ and so in union with His Passion. "As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon; this man they pressed into service to carry his cross." (Matthew 27:32)
Why Suffering: (1) Everyone asks the question (in some form or another), Why suffering? Each religion has a different answer. In Hinduism, suffering is seen as the result of karmic debt owed from a prior incarnation. Buddhists believe they suffer in life because of their desires that can be relieved by good meditation and prayers. In Judaism, suffering is seen as everything from senseless to positively willed by God as a result of Jewish disobedience. In Islam, suffering is seen as the result of Allah's positive will. For some brands of Protestantism, suffering is always the result of personal sin.
Every human being undergoes pain, and we all want it to have meaning (and so not despair). Amidst this, always remember: there are two kinds of suffering-redemptive suffering and wasted suffering Which one will you choose?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church encourages and reminds us of our vocation: "By His passion and death on the Cross Christ has given a new meaning to suffering: it can henceforth configure us to Him and unite us with His redemptive passion" (#1505).
The Value and Meaning of Redemptive Suffering: (1) Redemptive suffering is any trial or tribulation (physical or mental) we offer up and UNITE to Jesus- as a "gift" to Him to express our love thru a costly way, in exchange for some other good. Notice the key elements: we consciously choose embrace suffering; it is precious (a "gift") because it is painful (not fun or "easy"); it brings us closer to Jesus in an intimate and intense way; and the suffering may "spiritually repair" my own soul or others-and thereby help in the work of redemption (Christ's allowing me to help Him save souls).
Other names/descriptions of this phenomenon include: vicarious atonement (Jesus, Who alone can atone the sins of the world, chooses others to "vicariously assist Him" and thereby weave more people into the plan of salvation; victim souls (a person whose primary call as a disciple in life is to especially suffer for the saving of other souls); and co-redemption.
Ask yourself these questions: How can I intensely merge my sufferings with Christ (i.e., more deeply)? How can I more readily blend my trials with Him (i.e. not hesitating in offering suffering to Him)? How can I consistently entwine my difficulties with Him (less sporadically)?
The Bible and Suffering: There are many versus in the Bible referring to redemptive suffering. The following verses are a few of those most quoted: "Whoever follows me must take up his cross..." (Mt 10: 38).
"So they departed from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been counted worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus." (Acts 5:41) "
"Therefore we are not discouraged, rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. (II Cor 4: 16). "
"With Christ I am nailed to the cross. It is now no longer I that live but Christ Who lives in me" (Gal 2:19-20).
"Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, for I fill up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ." (Col:24).
This indeed is a grace, if for consciousness of God anyone endures sorrows, suffering. unjustly." (I Pt 2: 19).
For the Spirit Himself gives testimony to our spirit that we are the sons of God. And if sons, heirs also; heirs indeed of God and joint heirs with Christ: yet so, if we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified with Him. The sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come that shall be revealed in us. (Rm 8:16-18)
What we suffer at this present time cannot be compared at all with the glory that is going to be revealed in us...We know that all things work for good for those who love God...For I am convinced that neither life nor death...nor future things, nor powers nor any other creature can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus" (Rm 8:18, 28,38).
Offering it Up: (2) Offering it Up (or "Making a Good Intention") is done in both formal and informal ways.
Formally, many Catholics make the Morning Offering to give to Our Lord that day's efforts, works, joys, sufferings, and intentions. At the Mass, we consciously, silently, and privately offer ourselves up, along with the Son, to the Father during the Offertory.
Informally, we "offer it up" by simply asking God in our own words to use a suffering as it occurs; we often do this for specific intentions (ex., "Use this pain, Lord, for the salvation of my brother..."). We might follow the example of the young St. Thérèse of Lisieux and make use of Sacrifice Beads, or the extraordinary among us might make the Heroic Act of Charity for the souls in Purgatory.
It's quite a discipline to react to suffering this way! In mental or physical pain? Drop something on your toe? Putting up with a co-worker who is making your life a living Hell? Enduring the constant ache of arthritis? Standing in line at the grocery and hating every minute of it? Spill the milk? Accept these things in peace, and ask God to use them for the good of the Church or for a more specific intention close to your heart.
You'll find that it is not uncommon to hear one Catholic tell another who is suffering to "offer it up" as a way of dealing with his suffering. It should be remembered, though, that while it is most definitely good to tell someone to "offer it up," it is also easy -- and that we are called, too, to comfort those who are suffering, to feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to care for the sick, etc. Telling someone to offer it up without also helping him to deal with the temporal and emotional effects of whatever he is going through is not the fully Christian response. Even Our Lord was helped while carrying His Cross: St. Veronica wiped the sweat and Blood from His Holy Face, and St. Simon of Cyrene helped Him bear the Cross itself.
And always help the suffering to retain (or regain) hope that his suffering is not in vain. Assure him that he will partake of "the consolation":
The Ultimate in "Offering it up": Victim Souls (2) A victim soul is someone who has been chosen by God to participate in Christ's Passion in a very special way by manifesting the signs of His sufferings, often in their very own bodies. Suffering for the sake of love is their vocation, and such suffering is willingly accepted for the benefit of the Church. The attitude and plea of the victim soul is summed up by this prayer of St. Catherine of Siena, The only cause of my death is my zeal for the Church of God, which devours and consumes me. Accept, O Lord, the sacrifice of my life for the Mystical Body of Thy holy Church.
St. Lydwine of Schiedam, the Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich, and St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio) were three other such souls, and there have been many more. Often, but not necessarily, these souls receive the stigmata on the palms of their hands or on their feet, the wounds left by the crown of thorns, wounds in their sides as if made by a lance, stripes on their bodies as if caused by scourging, and other bodily phenomena that recall His Passion.
In conclusion: "It is in suffering that we are withdrawn from the bright superficial film of existence, from the sway of time and mere things and find ourselves in the presence of profounder truth." + Fr. Yves Conger, French priest-theologian.
From The words of Blessed Saint Padre Pio...
“The life of a Christian is nothing but a perpetual struggle against self; there is no flowering of the soul to the beauty of its perfection except at the price of pain.” Saint Padre Pio
Wonderful post. Thank you.
I’m sincerely confused. If the sin has been forgiven, why would there still be punishment?
Dear Friend , there is still physical death and pain while we are still in this world.
Suffering is a part of life and something that can be of great value when it is endured and united with love
Well, I have to ask - does it (Redemptive Suffering) also act, not only against “Punishment for sins” but for petitions for something good?
For example, can one who is suffering accept and offer it as part of a plea for help and protection for our country from evil leaders and their evil deeds?
I think so. Therefore, count me in. Hope the suffering isn’t more than I can bear and doesn’t hurt those I love.
My "best guess": Sin, though forgiven, still leaves its indelible trace in the world. God forgives the genuinely penitent sinner; but this forgiveness does not erase the legacy or fruits of sin that the sinner propagated by means of his sinful act, which leaves an ineffaceable mark on the course and shape of real events in the world of human experience.
The punishment that penitent sinners receive is not eternal damnation in Hell; rather, according to Catholic doctrine, the "punishment" consists of a mandatory post-death period of salutary purgation, in which the penitent soul is further perfected and hallowed, such that it can be conformed suitably with life in the heavenly kingdom to come.
Moreover, ...redemptive suffering does not gain the individual forgiveness for their sin; forgiveness results from Gods grace, freely given through Christ, which cannot be earned [i.e., by works alone].
Just some thoughts, FWTW.
I recently gently reminded my mother to “offer it up” as she is suffering in body, mind and spirit.
Suffering is not punishment, it is redemption.
I would also ask - how does one know that the acceptance of suffering is truly doing God’s will and not simply some kind of masochism?
Wish I understood as much as I
because of all the suffering I’ve put myself and others through . . . and others have put me through.
He has brought me to the place that He has enabled me to see that some of the severest suffering has been HIS MERCY.
Don’t know how to explain that.
I’m also reminded of a Heavenly visitation . . . with the person being shown through various Heavenly mansions—some of those of folks he’d known on earth, IIRC . . . some not of familiar folks.
Some were fairly modestly furnished. Some were lavishly furnished.
IIRC he remarked on the difference to his angelic guide . . . noting for example the exquisite paintings on the walls of the mansion they were in at the moment. The angel noted that THAT particular painting had cost a LOT of suffering.
And that the general differences were attributable to those who had
LAID UP TREASURES IN HEAVEN vs those who had not done much of that, at all.
Certainly,but remember, God answers prayers not in the way we always want them
imho . . .
Dysfunctional suffering is that brought on by relentlessly & stubbornly perverse rebellions, idolatries, pessimism, self-absorption, chronic gritchy-ness at God, the world and others; unthankfulness; murmmering; . . . the opposite of the fruits of The Spirit.
Dysfunctional suffering is that which is seized and fondled obsessively like an anti-teddy-bear. Where every aspect and microgram of the suffering is milked for all the self-pity and excuse for misery, wailing and whining possible.
Dysfunctional suffering is that in the midst of which the sufferer . . . instead of rebuking and resisting the enemy, the demonic forces always lurking so pervasively around such experiences . . . instead, the sufferer enters into a kind of sick dance--tossing, fondling, carressing, embellinshing the suffering in horrific ways . . . or even spiritual intercourse with them . . . unwittingly or perhaps masochistically intensifying & prolonging the suffering needlessly.
Dysfunctional suffering usually involves chronic, relentless blame--of God, others and in unfitting ways, of the self. Blame is not the same as taking responsibility, confessing and repenting; letting go and going on as best one can.
Dysfunctional suffering involves a REFUSAL to FORGIVE UTTERLY--REGARDLESS--FULLY AND FREELY AS MUCH FROM THE HEART AS POSSIBLE, BY GOD'S GRACE--AND THE DETERMINATION TO FORGIVE MORE FULLY AT THE NEXT REMEMBERANCE OF WHATEVER.
Redemptive suffering involves deeper, broader abandonment to God.
Redemptive suffering involves gracious acceptance, as best as one can, by God's Grace muster such. Not per se acceptance of satan's efforts to steal, destroy and kill--we are always called to resist the enemy vs comply with him.
Yet, at the time, for the moment, for the here, now, for this pain to this degree at this time TO CHOOSE TO TRUST GOD WITH IT AND IN IT and offer it up to Him as a sacrifice willfully chosen as an offering to Him rather than an excuse to wallow in self-pity, wail and whine.
It is an acceptance of God's sovereignty and supremacy as His greatest wisdom, Love, purpose, will in our lives whether we understand or think He's doing it all wrong, or not.
It is acceptance that . . . apart from HIm and Christ's Blood, not only would we deserve this and far more--we could not bear the tiniest fraction of the worthy consequences of our sinful affronts to Him and His Righteousness and Glory.
It is acceptance that God will deliver us from the fiery furnace of affliction or He won't--yet HE IS STILL GOD (and we are not); HE IS STILL ALTOGETHER GOOD; HE IS STILL ALTOGETHER LOVING; HE IS STILL ALTOGETHER WISE; HE IS STILL ALTOGETHER OUT FOR OUR ETERNAL GOOD AND OUR ETERNAL GLORY; HE IS GOOD ALL THE TIME AND ALL THE TIME HE IS GOOD . . . and we CHOOSE IN THE MIDST OF THE FIERY FURNACE OR ON IT'S BRINK . . . TO WORSHIP AND LOVE AND TRUST HIM REGARDLESS.
It is ACCEPTANCE of our state as real and present and possibly enduring vs kicking against the pricks [in KJV Paul's terms] . . . real or imagined, human or circumstantial pricks . . . !!!!DEMANDING!!!! INSTANT (at least soonish) and thorough deliverance.
It is acceptance that we don't know everything . . . not even about ourselves and our suffering. We don't even know but the tiniest fraction of what goes into other folks' contributions to our suffering. Are they acting out of greater internal pains than our own? Multiplied by whatever unknown geometric factor above and beyond our own excruciating pains?
It is acceptance of the fact that we do not know what GREATER sufferings MIGHT have been our lot--but for the Graces and Compassionate Kindnesses of The Lord.
It is BONE MARROW ACCEPTANCE that HE IS GOD and we are not. Or, it is as close to that as He enables us yet to manage to reside in.
I have observed and experienced, that often enough . . . more often than I'd prefer . . . God seems to engineer incredible (?excruciating?) challenges that we are utterly incapable of--ON OUR OWN.
1. We cannot walk the razor blade thin line WITHOUT HIM.
2. We cannot pick the flyspecks out of the pepper and discern the good from the bad WITHOUT HIM.
3. We cannot be at PEACE in the midst of the fiery furnace WITHOUT HIM.
4. We cannot have HOPE WITHOUT HIM.
5. We cannot ENDURE TO THE END--WITHOUT HIM.
6. We cannot REDEEM THE TIME and the pain WITHOUT HIM.
7. We cannot GO ON, WITHOUT HIM.
8. We cannot OVERCOME, WITHOUT HIM.
9. We cannot BREATHE, HAVE OUR BEING, LIVE--ETERNALLY OR OTHERWISE--WITHOUT HIM.
10. We cannot know our left hand from our right hand, WITHOUT HIM.
11. We cannot LOVE, BE LOVED AND RECEIVE HIS LOVE WITHOUT HIM. Not only do we not know HOW to--we simply CANNOT even when we know some feeble bit about HOW. 12. We certainly cannot sit with Him in Heavenly places spiritually now or eternally more fully--with the enemy under our feet--WITHOUT HIM.
Redemptive suffering seems to plenty often involve seemingly mutually exclusive things--ACCEPTANCE yet RESISTING THE ENEMY and all without striving in our own strength. That anguish of heart navigating such mine fields must give some tiniest hint of what The Garden of Gethsemene was like.
IF POSSIBLE, TAKE THIS CUP . . . YET NOT MY WILL BUT THINE.
It is NOT foolishly with giddy idiocy rushing toward pain in some sort of sick masochistic orgy of insanity.
YET NOT MY WILL BUT THINE, FATHER.
Here's the wood and here's the altar, Father. Where's the sacrifice?
Ahhhhhh . . .
NOT MY WILL, BUT THINE, FATHER.
Then let your Cross and my daily cross do a thorough work, Father.
Conform me thoroughly to the image of your Son, Daddy.
RESISTANCE OF EVIL while ACCEPTING REALITY
Redemptive suffering involves ACCEPTANCE of impossible contridictions as real and releasing them to God to sort out in the present and eternally.
Redemptive suffering involves wrestling with impossibly excruciating pains and angst--asking for MORE GRACE to bear them--and receiving and cashing that Grace in as best we can to go on another second, minute, hour, day, week, month, year.
Sometimes, at some point, Redemptive suffering involves standing tall in The Lord, getting fiercely angry at satan and his forces in the situation and in The Lord's anointing and grabbing the nearest jaw bone of an ass [more likely the Word of God] and slaying a few thousand Philistines--spiritually &/or however else God would order and enable.
Redemptive suffering involves learning all we can of His Knowledge and Wisdom in the midst of it--burrowing INTO HIM by whatever inesteemable honor of sharing somehow more intimately in His incarnation by sharing however miniscuely in His suffering . . .
. . . yet not allowing satan and his forces to afflict us a second longer than is 'necessary,' whatever that can mean.
And beyond all this . . . Redemptive suffering is whatever our choices . . . the choices of those we are connected to . . . choices of mankind . . . and God's part in all the above have decreed shall be our current lot . . . until we choose and learn and apply His Redemptive solutions and ways out of our suffering.
Until then, we walk in the midst of the fiery furnace WITH HIM WHO PROMISED NEVER TO LEAVE US NOR FORSAKE US.
BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD!
BLESSED BE THE WORD OF THE LORD!
BLESSED BE THE WAYS OF THE LORD!
COUNT IT ALL JOY . . .
May these poor words be of some value to those in the midst of their own fiery furnaces. --Bo Xian (C) 2010
I strongly empathize with this observation, dear brother in Christ. You describe an odd, mysterious thing. But we can also think of this situation as follows: Human beings do not learn from their successes, only from their failures. And God wants us to learn. Of Him, and the splendor of His eternal Being, inviting us to fully participate in it.
bunmp to myself
Oh, dearest brother in Christ, may the Lord ever bless you for your sublime testimony and witness at post #13 of this thread!
One has to wonder by Christ bothered if men could do it for themselves and others..He may have well stayed home
Catholic teaching..... forgiven, but not paid for...Christ's cross was of no effect I guess???
Forgiven by the suffering of Christ, but not paid for?? the word redemption has a meaning ...To BUY BACK ... Christ paid the price for our sins..He purchased us with His blood ..