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DEAR FATHER | Amid suffering, we can find rest in Jesus

The suffering that I witness and experience in my day-to-day can be overwhelming. How can my faith help keep me steadfast in hope?

Among the things that unite us are our experiences with suffering and witnessing it in the world around us. No one is immune to this, although we wish we could be!

I’ve heard different iterations of this, but “you can’t celebrate Easter Sunday without first going through Good Friday.” Yes, I know it’s a bit of a simplistic phrase at first glance, but it can help point us to a deeper reality that we profess in our faith. The paschal mystery of Christ, which is Christ’s passion, death, resurrection and ascension, is central to our faith. A deeper understanding of this mystery of our faith can help us see hope amid suffering.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “[t]he Paschal mystery of Christ’s cross and Resurrection stands at the center of the Good News that the apostles, and the Church following them, are to proclaim to the world” (CCC 571).

We proclaim the paschal mystery every time we participate in Mass, and the Catechism reminds us that we are called to share the Good News with the world through our words and how we live our lives. So, if the Church gives such centrality to the paschal mystery, it makes sense that each of us would also be called to participate in it.

Christ’s ascension to heaven followed His experience of suffering; His suffering was not in vain. If you desire to learn more about this, St. Paul speaks of this in his Letter to the Philippians, and St. John Paul II addressed the salvific meaning of suffering in his apostolic letter, “Salvifici Doloris.” There is a lot to unpack in those writings, and I encourage you to read them.

It is important that we know that God invites us to bring all of our lived experiences to prayer with Him, including the good and the bad. We give thanks to God for the blessings He bestows, and we cry out to the Lord to help us, knowing in our hearts that He is with us as we carry our cross. The experience of suffering can be like a fork in the road; do we want to take the road that wanders away from Christ amid our suffering, or do we desire to choose the road that leads us closer to Him and His hope?

We should never feel that we need to work through experiences of suffering on our own; it is important that we seek assistance from our Lord and our brothers and sisters in Christ. When we witness or experience suffering in our day-to-day, whether in our jobs, on the news or within our own lives, we are encouraged by God to come and find rest with Him.

Father Dan Kavanagh is director of the Catholic Deaf Ministry in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

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