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1 Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. 1 Salvifici Doloris SALVIFICI DOLORIS.indd 1 8/6/08 12:46:32 PM

2 Chapter 1 A Study Guide for the Apostolic Letter of Pope John Paul II on the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering (Salvifici Doloris) DID YOU KNOW? Have you ever thought that life would be perfect if only there were no wars These statistics do not include suicide attempts which occur or natural disasters? Does it ever seem unfair to you that babies die of hunger, up to 20 times more frequently that young children suffer from abuse or incurable illnesses, or that millions than completed suicide. Mental disorders, especially depression of men and women live in desperate conditions of destitution and extreme and substance abuse, are poverty? associated with 90% of suicides; socioeconomic, family, and individual crisis situations are Have you ever experienced suffering in your life? Have you cared for a sick or other factors.1 dying child or tended an elderly or dying parent? Have you ever experienced Karol Jzef Wojtya is the birth a deep sense of betrayal at the hands of someone you love? Perhaps you have name of Pope John Paul II. He been seriously ill or injured in an accident and consequently been unable to was elected the 264th Pope of the Catholic Church on October 16, work or to help those who you love. Regardless of the varied circumstances 1978; he reigned for 27 years until his death on April 2, 2005. His was of our lives, it is inevitable that each one of us will be plunged into the world the second longest pontificate of human suffering at some point on our lifes journey whether as a result of in modern times; Pius IX reigned for 32 years. He is the only Polish our own personal misfortune or illness, through the hands of others, or due to Pope and the first non-Italian unforeseen events over which we have no control. Pope to be elected since the early 16th century. Suffering, when it is endured for love of Jesus Christ, can be a source of in- John Paul IIs mother, Emilia Kaczorowska Wojtya, died on numerable graces and blessings; it can be a powerful means through which we April 13, 1929 of kidney failure grow in virtue and holiness. However, purposeless suffering can be agonizing and congenital heart disease. She was 45 years old. and at times overwhelming; it can lead to feelings of hopelessness, depression, and despair. Many people are unable to find meaning in their life when it does On December 5, 1932, Dr. Edmund Wojtya died at the age of 26, a not meet their preconceived expectations of happiness or success; their despair few days after contracting scarlet is reflected in our soaring suicide rates. According to the World Health Orga- fever from one of his patients. nization, suicide has increased by 60% worldwide in the last 45 years. It is now The elder Karol Wojtya had been among the three leading causes of death for those between the ages of 15 and bedridden, weak and in poor health since Christmas, 1940. The 441; there is one death by suicide every 40 seconds. It is clear that the world younger Karol found him dead when he returned from work at that we live in is experiencing a crisis of hope. the Solvay quarry in Zakrzwek on February 18, 1941. It is to this world, a world in search of purpose and hope, that the author of Salvifici Doloris, Pope John Paul II, addressed this letter. Born in Wadowice, 1. Information accessed at the World Health Organization web Poland, on May 18, 1920, Karol Wojtya was no stranger to suffering. Having site: lost his mother at the age of eight and his older brother, Edmund, four years tal_health/prevention/suicide/ later, the final blow came when the only remaining member of his immediate suicideprevent/en/. family, his father, died at the age of 62. Only 20 years old at the time of his fathers death, Karol was left to live out the remaining four years of World War II without the love and emotional support of those closest to him. Later, he recalled that for Salvifici Doloris means Salvific Suffering or Redemptive Suffering. those who lived through that War, it was a time of 1. This information was accessed at the World Health Organization web site: prevention/suicide/suicideprevent/en/. Chapter 1 Salvifici Doloris 2 SALVIFICI DOLORIS.indd 2 8/6/08 12:46:32 PM

3 DID YOU KNOW? intense hardship and suffering: The Feast of Our Lady of Fatima marks the Half a century later, individuals, families, and peoples still retain memo- occasion of apparitions by the Blessed Virgin Mary to three Portuguese children, Francisco ries of those six terrible years: memories of fear, violence, extreme pov- (age 9), Jacinta (age 7), and Lucia (age 10). erty, death; tragic experiences of painful separation, endured in the ab- They received monthly apparitions of the sence of all security and freedom; recurring traumas brought about by Blessed Virgin Mary at Cova da Iria, near Fatima between May 13 and October 13, the incessant bloodshed.2 1917. Mary asked the children to pray the rosary for world peace, for the end of World Despite the fact that his early life had been marked by sorrow and adversity, War I, for sinners, and for the conversion of Russia. Mary also gave the children three the Holy Fathers journey of suffering was far from over. Years later, on May secrets. Lucia, who later became a Carmelite 13, 1981, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, Pope John Paul II was shot and nun, revealed the first secret in 1927; it concerned devotion to the Immaculate Heart nearly killed in St. Peters Square by Mehmet Ali Agca. The Popes first words of Mary. The second secret was a vision of to the faithful, while he was still lying in the hospital in critical condition, were hell. Pope John Paul II directed the Holy See's Secretary of State to reveal the third words of forgiveness: secret in 2000; it spoke of a bishop in white who was shot by a group of soldiers I pray for that brother of ours who shot me, and whom I have sincerely who fired bullets and arrows into him. Many people linked this to the assassination pardoned. United with Christ, Priest and Victim, I offer my sufferings attempt against Pope John Paul II in St. for the Church and for the world. To you, Mary, I repeat: Totus tuus Peter's Square on May 13, 1981. ego sum [I am entirely yours]. 3 Mehmet Ali Agca was a professional Turkish assassin. He was tried and sentenced to life Later, he asked about Agcas welfare and even visited him in the Rebibbia Prison. imprisonment for the shooting of the Holy Father in July, 1981. He was pardoned by The Holy Father suffered greatly as a result of the attack; his health, which Italian president, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi in June, 2000 and was extradited to Turkey. had been so robust and strong up until that point, was never the same. We Rebibbia prison is located in Rome, Italy. remember his suffering because he did not try to hide it from us; like Christ, Agca was incarcerated there during the he invited us to accompany him on his way of the cross. Who can forget those time of his imprisonment. The visit which Pope John Paul II made to Ali Agca took poignant images of his last days: his physical weakness, his movements marked place on December 27, 1983. by visible pain, the trembling associated with the affliction of Parkinsons dis- The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to ease, his difficulty in walking, and at times his inability to even speak? a poor, peasant girl named Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes, France in 1858. The From the very beginning of his priestly ministry, John Paul II identified him- first apparition occurred on February 11 of that year, and this date has been set aside self with the sick and the suffering, entrusting the important intentions of the as the Feast Day of Our Lady of Lourdes. Church and the world to their prayers and sacrifice. For him, all human suffer- ing had meaning, value, and purpose, a great redemptive value capable of enriching the entire community of the Church.4 It was his great love for us, his desire to share the mes- Apolostolic letters were originally letters written by the sage of joy and hope in suf- apostles to Christian communities or those in authority (e.g. The Letter of Paul to the Romans, The Letters to the fering, which inspired the Corinthians etc.) Our present-day Popes have continued this tradition of writing to the faithful. Next to encyclicals, Pope to write his apostolic apostolic letters are the most important papal documents. Mulieris Dignitatem, which you may have already studied, letter, Salvifici Doloris. It was is another example of an apostolic letter. released on February 11, 1984, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, a date that indicated his great devotion to Our Blessed Mother and which was to continue to be an auspicious date throughout his pontificate. A 2. Pope John Paul II, Message on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the End of the Second World War in Europe, May 17, 1995. Accessed at ii_mes_08051995_50th-end-war-europe_en.html, 1. 3. Pope John Paul II, Regina Coeli Address, May 17, 1981 as it appeared in LOsservatore Romano (English Weekly Edition), May 18, 1981, 6; quoted in Weigel, George, Witness to Hope, the Biography of Pope John Paul II (New York: First Cliff Street Books, 2001), 414. 4. Dziwisz, Stanislaw and Drazek, Czeslaw, Suffering in the Life and Teaching of John Paul II in Let Me Go to the Fathers House (Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 2006), 9. 3 Salvifici Doloris Chapter 1 SALVIFICI DOLORIS.indd 3 8/6/08 12:46:32 PM

4 year later, again on February 11th, he created The Commission for Pastoral DID YOU KNOW? Assistance to Health Workers, an organization whose purpose is to coordi- The duties of the Commission nate all of the Catholic institutions, whether religious or lay, that are commit- for Pastoral Assistance to Health ted to caring for the sick. Eleven years after that, he declared that February Workers also include studying international and health care 11th would henceforth be set aside as a special World Day of the Sick, an event policies in order to assess their relevance and implications for the which has been observed annually throughout the world since that time. Churchs apostolate, as well as to spread, explain, and defend the At all times, the lived example of the Holy Father demonstrated his firm con- Churchs teachings on the subject of health care. viction in the indissoluble connection between suffering, salvation, and joy. In his final book, Memory and Identity, he wrote: Inspired by compassion and concern for the sick and the suffering, Pope John Paul II All human suffering, all pain, all infirmity contains within itself a prom- instituted the World Day of the ise of salvation, a promise of joy: I am now rejoicing in my sufferings Sick on May 13, 1992 (Feast Day for your sake, writes Saint Paul (Col. 1:24). This applies to all forms of Our Lady of Fatima). The World Day of the Sick is celebrated each of suffering, called forth by evil. It applies to that enormous social and year on February 11th, the Feast political evil which divides and torments the world today: the evil of war, of Our Lady of Lourdes. the evil of oppression afflicting individuals and peoples, the evil of social Are not two sparrows sold for a injustice, of human dignity trodden underfoot, of racial and religious penny? And not one of them will discrimination, the evil of violence, terrorism, the arms raceall this fall to the ground without your evil is present in the world partly so as to awaken our love, our self-gift Fathers will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. in generous and disinterested service to those visited by suffering. In Fear not, therefore; you are of the love that pours forth from the heart of Christ, we find hope for the more value than many sparrows future of the world. Christ has redeemed the world: By his wounds we (Matthew 10: 29-31). are healed (Is. 53:5).5 Be not afraid are words that we particularly associate with the Holy Father, who encouraged us time and time again to trust in God, our amazing God who loves us so much that He has numbered even the hairs on our heads (see sidebar). He is a personal God, a God who is interested in each one of us as individuals. He is a God who came to us in the Person of His Son, Jesus, freely and inno- cently entering into the human world of suffering in order to give His life for us in His Passion and Death. It is true that God is greatly concerned with all of the suffering in the world, but it is your personal, daily suffering, caused by sin, whether great or seemingly insignificant, for which Christ died on the Cross and to which the Pope addresses himself in this letter. The good news of suffering is that it does have purpose: all human suffering holds within it a promise of salvation and joy. Discussion Questions 1. What are some of the unique ways in which we as women experience suffering? 2. What is your attitude towards suffering? Do you see it as a normal part of life? Do you try to avoid it at all costs? 5. Pope John Paul II, Memory and Identity (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 2005), 168. Chapter 1 Salvifici Doloris 4 SALVIFICI DOLORIS.indd 4 8/6/08 12:46:32 PM

5 DID YOU KNOW? Introduction As with any letter, the Pope has The first thing that we notice as we turn to the opening page of Salvifici Doloris a specific audience to who he speaks in his letters. For example, is that the Holy Father addresses his letter to the Venerable Brothers in the his encyclical letter, Redemptor Episcopate, which is all of the bishops of the Church. His salutation also in- hominis, is addressed to a broader audience: His Venerable cludes dear brothers and sisters in Christ, that is, anyone who is a Christian Brothers in the Episcopate, the Priests, the Religious Families, (see sidebar). He is writing this letter to each one of us; he is writing it to you. the Sons and Daughters of the Church, and to All Men and Women of Good Will. (Read Section I, Article 1) Pope John Paul II opens his meditation on suffering by quoting the words of the Apostle Paul: Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christs afflictions for Meditation is continued or extended thought, the contemplation of a religious concept or idea. When we meditate on something, we look at the sake of his body, that is, the church (Colossians it from many different perspectives. The Pope will return to reflect on 1:24). These are powerful words, words which af- Colossians 1:24 many times during the course of this letter, reflecting on it from different points of view. firm from the outset that there is a purpose in suffer- ing. Furthermore, this purpose is a reason for joy. At first we may imagine that suffering and joy have little in common with each other; they appear to be completely contradictory states. The nature of the relationship that exists between them is clarified by the Holy Father as he highlights the purpose of suffering formulated by St. Paul in this verse, that is, to complete Christs afflictions for the sake of the Church. With these words, Paul establishes an intimate connection between his own sufferings and those of Christ. The purpose of Christs suffering was to ac- complish our redemption; because Paul completes Redemption is the saving act of Christ accomplished by His Christs sufferings he, too, shares in this redemptive Passion, Death, and Resurrection. purpose. He participates in Christs salvific work to the degree that he completes Christs afflictions in his own bodily sufferings. As Paul has shared in the suffering of Christ, so he is also given a share in Christs joy. This joy is the fruit of self-sacrificing love, a love so infinite that it has the power to overcome evil. It is the joy of a transcendental purpose that has the capacity to transform our earthly suffering from simple resignation or grim endurance into a reason for peace and hope in the glory of eternity. Ca- ryll Houselander, a prolific English author and mystic visionary writes: He [Christ] took our humanity, just as it is, with all its wretchedness and ugliness, and gave it back to us just as his humanity is, transfigured by the beauty of his living, filled full of his joy. He came back from the long journey through death, to give us his Risen Life to be our life, so that no matter what suffering we meet, we can meet it with the whole power of the love that has overcome the world. I have said this to you, so that in me you may find peace. In the world, you will only find tribulation; but take courage, I have overcome the world (John 26:33).6 The salvific nature of Pauls suffering enabled him to contribute to his own personal redemption as well as to cooperate with Christ in bringing about 6. Houselander, Caryll, The Risen Christ (New York: Sheed & Ward, Inc., 1958), 2-3. 5 Salvifici Doloris Chapter 1 SALVIFICI DOLORIS.indd 5 8/6/08 12:46:32 PM

6 the salvation of others. The logical outcome of Pauls discovery, that there is DID YOU KNOW? meaning in suffering, was his reason for joy; the hope of salvation was for him, Letters written by the Pope are as it is for us, the ultimate joy. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and often released officially by what is referred to as promulgation. not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has be- Promulgation means to make come my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation known by public declaration and it is the means by which the (Isaiah 12:2-3). Pauls joy is not exclusive; it is not just reserved for apostles and text of a law or other binding saints. This joy in suffering is a grace that is available to each one of us. document is made known to the community. When the Pope enacts an Ecclesiastical law or speaks ex cathedra (from the chair), his words are intended to Discussion Question be binding on all of the faithful. An apostolic letter is not a legal document as such, but it certainly has more weight for us 3. What value do you place on salvation? What does it mean to than would an ordinary letter. As you? Is it a reason for joy in your life? Catholics, we read and reflect on these letters with respect and reverence. Pope John Paul II declared that the year 1984 would be set (Read Section I, Articles 2, 3 and 4) aside as the Holy Year of the Redemption, a special time of There are several significant reasons that contributed to the Popes decision contemplation and reflection to mark the 1950th anniversary to promulgate his apostolic letter, Salvifici Doloris in the Holy Year of the of the redeeming death of Christ. A Holy Year, also called Redemption. In the first place, the Holy Year of the Redemption was an ex- a Jubilee Year, is an important traordinary Jubilee of the Church. Jubilee years are periods of time specially religious event in the tradition of the Catholic Church. The set aside by the Church in order to encourage us to strive for greater holiness idea of a Holy Year originated in in our lives. Suffering is a particularly efficacious means to holiness; it is an the Old Testament And you shall hallow the fiftieth year, and opportunity to draw closer to Christ and an invitation to share more deeply in proclaim liberty throughout the His life. land to all its inhabitants; it shall be a jubilee for you (Leviticus 25:10). Ordinary Jubilees are Love for the Cross produces abundant fruit in the soul. In the first place those which fall after a set period it brings us to discover Jesus immediately. He comes out to meet us and of years, generally every 25 years (e.g. the year 2000). The Holy bears on his own shoulders the most burdensome part of any trial we ex- Year of the Redemption was an perience. Our suffering, in union with the Masters, is no longer an evil extraordinary Jubilee of the that oppresses us. It becomes a means of union with God.7 Church in that it was proclaimed for an outstanding event, not just one of a cyclical nature. The Holy Father notes that suffering is at all times a universal theme, a reality that is present to man at every point in his life: The reality of suffering is ever before our eyes and often in the body, soul, and heart of each of us. Pain has always been a great riddle of hu- man existence. However, ever since Jesus redeemed the world by His passion and death, a new perspective has been opened: through suffering one can grow in self-giving and attain the highest degree of love because of Him who loved us and gave himself up for us.8 The Holy Father states that suffering seems to be particularly essential to the nature of man,9 something that belongs to mans transcendence and that calls man to go beyond himself, to find new meaning in his experience outside the 7. Fernandez, Fr. Francis, In Conversation with God, vol. 7 (Madrid: Fomento de Fundaciones, 1991; trans. London, Scepter U.K. Ltd, 1993; reprint London: Scepter U.K. Ltd., 2003), 143-144 (page citations are to the reprint edition). 8. Pope John Paul II, Lessons for Living (Chicago: Loyola Press, 2004), #95. 9. SD, 2. Chapter 1 Salvifici Doloris 6 SALVIFICI DOLORIS.indd 6 8/6/08 12:46:32 PM

7 DID YOU KNOW? realm of the material world. Mans nature is unique in all of creation, for he has been created in the image and likeness of God. Genesis 1:26-28 reads, Then God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; Of all visible creatures only man is able to know and love his creator. and let them have dominion over He is the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake, the fish of the sea, and over the and he alone is called to share, by knowledge and love, in Gods own life. birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over It was for this end that he was created, and this is the fundamental reason every creeping thing that creeps for his dignity.10 upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and In man, both physical matter and spirit are united; however, God has no physi- female he created them. And God cal being. Although God became man in the person of Jesus Christ, each of the blessed them, and God said to them, Be fruitful and multiply, persons of the Holy TrinityFather, Son, and Holy Spiritare distinct from and fill the earth and subdue it; one another. The Catechism of the Catholic Church writes: and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that The divine persons are really distinct from one another. God is one but not moves upon the earth. solitary. Father, Son, Holy Spirit are not simply names designat- ing modalities of the divine being, for they are really distinct from one another: He is not the Father who is the Son, nor is the Son he who is the Father, nor is the Holy Spirit he who is the Father or the Son. They are distinct from one another in their relations of origin: It is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds. The divine Unity is Triune.11 God, then, is Spirit, and it is to the likeness of His Spirit that we were created. It is our spiritual nature that allows us to reason, to know God, and to freely choose Him as our ultimate good. Although man shares some of the superficial manifestations of suffering with the animal world, the depth of our capacity to reflect on our experience and to grow in maturity as a result of that reflection is unique. Animals have a soul which animates them and defines them as living beings; however, their souls, unlike those of men, are not spirits because they are not created in Gods image and likeness. Animals do suffer and know pain, but they can only react to it; they have no ability to understand it or to learn from it. Animals may become conditioned to avoid certain situations that are unpleasant, but they have no means to understand why they act in this way. Animals cannot choose to sacrifice themselves for the good of another. Man alone was created with the capacity to understand suffering, to learn from it, and to unite himself more fully to God through his patient acceptance of it. Only man was created to know, to love, and to serve God. This, then, is our mysterious calling; this is the vocation to which we have all been born. It is in this sense that we are destined to go beyond ourselves, to rise above ourselves in order to be more closely united to Christ. The Holy Year of the Redemption was a particularly apt period of time in which to reflect on the theme of suffering because of sufferings indissoluble connection with salvation: our redemption was accomplished by means of Christs suffering. The Scriptures had foretold this divine plan of salvation through the 10. CCC, 356. 11. CCC, 254. 7 Salvifici Doloris Chapter 1 SALVIFICI DOLORIS.indd 7 8/6/08 12:46:32 PM

8 putting to death of the righteous one, my Servant as a mystery of DID YOU KNOW? universal redemption, that is, as the ransom that would free men from the slavery of sin.In particular Jesus redemptive death fulfills Isaiahs Redemptor missio (Redemptive Mission), was John Paul IIs eighth prophecy of the suffering Servant. Indeed Jesus himself explained the encyclical letter. Signed on meaning of his life and death in the light of Gods suffering Servant.12 December 7, 1990, it was written in order to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Second Vatican It was the Church who was the first beneficiary of salvation: Christ won Councils Decree on the Churchs the Church for himself at the price of his own blood and made the Church Missionary Activity, Ad Gentes (To the Nations). An encyclical letter his co-worker in the salvation of the world. Indeed, Christ dwells within the is considered the most important Church.He carries out his mission through her.13 It is to the Church that communication given by the Pope and it is generally addressed Christ entrusted His work of teaching. It is in her that Christ lives; it is there to the bishops of the Church. that we encounter Him in the sacraments. Pope John Paul II writes that An apostolic letter is second in importance. The Church wishes to serve this single end: that each person may be Redemptor hominis means The able to find Christ, in order that Christ may walk with each person the Redeemer of Man. It was the first path of life, with the power of the truth about man and the world that is encyclical letter written by Pope John Paul II. Redemptor hominis contained in the mystery of the Incarnation and the Redemption and was given on the first Sunday of with the power of the love that is radiated by that truth.14 Lent, March 4, 1979, in the first year of his Pontificate. The Church attempts to meet us in a special way on our path of suffering, adhering to the example set by Jesus, who is the Head of the Church. In His earthly ministry, Je- The term Incarnation refers to the conception of Jesus Christ in the womb of the Virgin Mary through the miraculous intervention of the sus at all times identified Himself with the poor Holy Spirit. and the outcast, taking a particular interest in the concerns of those who were sick and suffering. He, too, was human; He knows intimately the frailty of our human natures. His heart is full of compassion for us; He knows that we are vulnerable and liable to falter. Jesus does not intend that anyone should bear their cross alone; He, too, needed the help of Simon of Cyrene to carry His Cross as He walked towa rds Calvary. In times of suffering, we see Jesus in the faces of individu- als and in the community of the Church. It is through them that He comes out to meet us, to walk with us and to help us carry our burdens, to comfort and to console us, to bring us the light of truth by which we will find meaning and purpose in our trials and afflictions. Followers of Christ are not only given the hands of Christ to work with, and the heart of Christ to love with, but the mind of Christ to illuminate the world with. His plan of love is consistent through and through; through our personal lives we are to give his love to one another, through the sacraments we are to give his life to one another, through his light in us, we are to give his mind to one another. 15 Because our redemption was born of his suffering, in Christ every man be- comes the way for the Church.16 For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body (Ephesians 5:29-30). But God has so adjusted the body, giving the 12. CCC, 601. 13. Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris missio (1990), 9. 14. Pope John Paul II, Redemptor hominis (1979), 13. 15. Houselander, Caryll, The Risen Christ, 93. 16. SD, 3. Chapter 1 Salvifici Doloris 8 SALVIFICI DOLORIS.indd 8 8/6/08 12:46:33 PM

9 greater honor to the inferior part, that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together (1 Corinthians 12:24-26). For Christians, our way is to love God, a God (Christ) who we encounter in every person that we meet: Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me (Matthew 25:40). Suffering evokes our compassion and respect and moves us to action; at the same time it is intimidating. Our human nature shrinks from it; we fear the intense grief and pain that often accompany it. Such fear is incompatible with our faith that assures us that God is a compassionate God, that He loves each one of us in- dividually, that He is all-powerful and that He knows the deepest longings of our hearts and will never leave us orphaned. Faith that is strong and unshakable is the antidote to fear, the answer to all that threatens to overwhelm us. Through faith, we discover that man only appears to be the protagonist in the history of the world; in reality God is the main protagonist. The presence of God throughout history affects equally the things that hap- pen in the realm of politics, society and the economy, as well as in our family or in professional matters. He is present everywhere and every- thing depends on Him. In His hands lay the destinies of all of us as well as the destinies of nations and of the world. We come to know all this through faith, which brings about inner peace in us. This peace flows from faith, which gives us the understanding that He, who is the eternal might and eternal love, holds everything in His hands filled with mercy. He guides everything with His eternal wisdom and total love. Faith gives us the feeling of security and peace, and the confidence that we are always imm ersed in Gods love. Faith is a different way of looking at the world, an- othe r way of seeing that which is especially difficult. Faith allows us to come to know God in the phenomena of nature, in which we can continually discover the traces of His works and the traces of His concern for us and for the world that surrounds us.17 The imperative of faith of which the Holy Father speaks, the command that is inherent in the baptismal commitment of every person who has been configured to Christ by means of this sacrament, is beautifully summed up in Jesus last words to His disciples before ascending into heaven: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age (Matthew 28:19-20). This is our mis- sion as individuals; this is the mission of the universal Church: to share our faith, to spread the Good News of Salvation and to bring Christ to others so that they, too, will experience the inflowing of the Spirit of God [that] gives joy to men even in the midst of suffering and hardship: peace, patience, fortitude, wisdom, understanding, joy itself!18 17. Dajczer, Father Tadeusz, The Gift of Faith, 2d ed. (previously printed as Inquiring Faith; Ventura, CA: In the Arms of Mary Foundation, 2001), 26-27. 18. Houselander, Caryll, The Risen Christ, 104. 9 Salvifici Doloris Chapter 1 SALVIFICI DOLORIS.indd 9 8/6/08 12:46:33 PM

10 Discussion Questions 4. How does your faith influence your view of the world? 5. How does the Church attempt to meet us as women on our way of suffering? Case Study for Reflection: Adversity and suffering often come upon us unexpectedly. While we can never completely control the events of our life, we do have the freedom to choose how we will respond. For example, two men were crucified next to Jesus and experi- enced the same suffering, yet one became a saint A reprobate is a person who has been rejected by God and is beyond and the other became a reprobate. Consider this hope of salvation. recent event that occurred in the United States On the morning of Monday, October 2, 2006, Marie Roberts was leading a prayer group at the Middle Octorara Presbyterian Church in Georgetown, Pennsylva- nia. She had gathered with a half dozen members of the local Moms in Touch chapter to pray for school children in the area. Less than a mile away, her husband, Charlie, was backing a borrowed pickup truck up to the front doors of the West Nickel Mines Amish School, a tiny one-room schoolhouse. Armed with three guns and 600 rounds of ammunition, he marched into the school and took 26 students and four adults hostage. After setting the male students and adults free, he lined up the remaining 10 young girls against a chalkboard. The oldest girl, 13 year old Marian Fisher, appealed to Roberts to shoot her first, hoping that by sacrificing her life she might be able to save the lives of the younger girls. Her younger sister, Barbie, begged him to shoot her next. But by the time Charlie was finished and had turned the gun on himself, five girls between the ages of 7 and 13 were dead and those who had survived were in critical condition. In the suicide note that he left for his wife, Charlie Roberts spoke of feeling tor- mented by the loss of his infant daughter, Elise, who had died nine years ago, only 20 minutes after a premature birth. I havent been the same since it affected me in a way I never felt possible, Roberts wrote. I am filled with so much hate, hate toward myself hate towards God and unimaginable emptiness [sic] it seems like every time we do something fun I think about how Elise wasnt here to share it with us and I go right back to anger.19 In contrast, the grandfather of one of the murdered Amish girls offered a different response to his experience of suffering: We must not think evil of this man.20 Jack Meyer, a member of the Brethren community living near the Amish in Lan- 19. Alberts, Sheldon, Gunman Planned to Abuse Girls, Police Say, The (Toronto) National Post, October 4, 2006, 12(A). 20. Amish grandfather: We must not think evil of this man ( shooting/index.html), CNN, 2006-10-05. Chapter 1 Salvifici Doloris 10 SALVIFICI DOLORIS.indd 10 8/6/08 12:46:33 PM

11 caster County explained: I dont think theres anybody here that wants to do any- thing but forgive and not only reach out to those who have suffered a loss in that way but to reach out to the family of the man who committed these acts.21 Many of the families of the victims attended Charlie Roberts funeral, and the Amish community has set up a charitable fund to provide for his family. Discussion Question 6. Discuss the various responses of those involved in this tragedy. What made it possible for the Amish community to respond to this tragedy with love and forgiveness? The World of Human Suffering (Read Section II, Article 5) Suffering is such a deeply personal experience that it seems to be inexpressible; it transcends all words. It is an experience that is unique to each individual, something that cannot be transferred to others or be experienced by them; it is something that is unrepeatable. The subjective reality of suffering is my personal experience; it is my own particular physical and psychological response to the specific circumstance in which I find myself. Through attentive listening and sensitive observation, others may empathize with my suffering and identify with it to a certain extent. However, no outside person is able to enter completely into my own experience of suffering; it belongs exclusively to me. By contrast, the objective reality of suffering is an explicit problem that challenges us to meditate upon it as a reality, to question its nature and its inevitability, to seek meaningful answers about its significance and purpose. When we think of suffering, we often think of physical pain or illness, yet we have come to realize that suffering goes far beyond this, that we suffer in ways that are much more complex than previously imagined. Much of our suffering is not physical at all, but is deeply rooted in our human natures. The Holy Father distinguishes two categories of suffering: physical and moral. Physical suffering is the suffering of the body, the pain or discomfort that is caused by an injury or an illness. Moral suffering, on the other hand, is mental anguish; it is pain of the soul, pain of a spiritual nature which can leave invis- ible wounds deep within our hearts. Moral suffering may be caused by the ef- fects of poverty or by the suffering and death of loved ones. It can be the result of addictions, neuroses, or mental illnesses, or emerge due to the impact of sexual abuse, prostitution, or abortion. It can be the consequence of any sort of suffering of conscience, injustice, or self-esteem. Accompanying all of these 21. Ibid. 11 Salvifici Doloris Chapter 1 SALVIFICI DOLORIS.indd 11 8/6/08 12:46:34 PM

12 experiences of physical and moral suffering is a psychological aspect: the emo- DID YOU KNOW? tions that accompany us in our difficulties, such as feelings of worthlessness, All evil is essentially negative; it consists in the helplessness, disappointment, despair, sadness, fear, or anger, among others. loss or deprivation of something necessary for perfection. Evil may be physical, moral, or While we know that moral suffering is no less prevalent than physical illness, metaphysical in nature. somehow it seems more mysterious and unreachable; it is difficult for us to Physical evil includes all that causes harm to penetrate its depths. man, whether by bodily injury, by thwarting his natural desires, or by preventing the full development of his powers, either in the order of nature directly, or through the various social conditions under which Discussion Question mankind naturally exists.1 Physical evil includes sickness, accident, death, poverty, oppression, mental suffering, and the limitation of intelligence which 7. When we suffer physically, we go to the doctor and follow prevents human beings from coming to a full whatever advice he/she gives us. What about spiritual suffering? comprehension of their environment. Where can we seek healing? By moral evil are understood the deviation of human volition from the prescriptions of the moral order and the action which results from that deviation. Metaphysical evil is the limitation by one another of various component parts of the natural (Read Section II, Articles 6 and 7) world. Through this mutual limitation natural objects are for the most part prevented from Although our personal experience of suffering may be unique, its causes are attaining to their full or ideal perfection, whether by the constant pressure of physical timeless and universal. The suffering described in Sacred Scripture, while far condition, or by sudden catastrophes. from being an exhaustive historical list, is as relevant today as it was thousands Thus, animal and vegetable organisms are variously influenced by climate and other of years ago. We still get homesick, we still fear for the health of our families, natural causes; predatory animals depend for their existence on the destruction of life; we grieve when our children die, we suffer from discrimination, ingratitude, nature is subject to storms and convulsion, and injustice.22 But whereas modern man makes a clear distinction between and its order depends on a system of perpetual decay and renewal due to the moral and physical suffering, Scripture regarded the suffering of man in terms interaction of its constituent parts.2 of a whole entity, frequently linking spiritual suffering to specific bodily pain. Even today we acknowledge that we cannot categorically separate these two aspects of suffering; moral suffering is often reflected in physical symp- toms, and our spiritual condition can have a substantial impact on our bodily health. Suffering, in the Old Testament, was completely identified with the objective concept of evil. Its vocabulary had no specific word for suffering; adversity was defined solely in terms of evil. The Greek Objective means something language, however, along with the New Testa- that is the object or goal of ment and Greek translations of the Old Testa- ones efforts or actions. ment, did have a verb for passion which made it possible to recognize the subjective aspect of suffering. For the man or wom- an of the New Testament, suffering was no longer directly identifiable with objective evil; it was no longer defined solely as the consequence of deliberate sinful action. They now had the vocabulary to acknowledge a situation where it was possible for a person to have an experience of evil, and in undergoing this evil to become the subject of suffering. The Greeks recognized that suffering has both a subjective and passive char- acter. They saw that even in the case where a man or woman has brought evil 1. Sharpe, A.B., Evil, The Catholic Encyclo- pedia, vol. V (New York: Robert Appleton on themselves through their own actions, their experience of suffering remains Company, 1909). Accessed at http://www. 22. To reference the Scripture passages cited in article 6, see Appendix 1. 2. Ibid. Chapter 1 Salvifici Doloris 12 SALVIFICI DOLORIS.indd 12 8/6/08 12:46:34 PM

13 DID YOU KNOW? passive in its metaphysical essence. It is something that we undergo, some- thing that happens to, as well as in us. The fact that there is an element of pas- Other traditions such as Buddhism, see all of existence as fundamentally evil: sivity in all suffering does not mean It has been contended that existence is that suffering is without activity, that In Philosophy, the word metaphysical refers to something that is concerned with the fundamentally evil; that evil is the active principle of the universe, and good no more the person who suffers is completely most fundamental aspects of reality, such as than an illusion, the pursuit of which serves indifferent and apathetic. On the con- existence, causality, or truth. to induce the human race to perpetuate its own existence. This is the fundamental tenet trary, psychological suffering is char- of Buddhism, which regards happiness as acterized by strong emotions of pain, sadness, disappointment, discourage- unattainable, and holds that there is no way of escaping from misery but by ceasing to ment or even despair, according to the intensity of the suffering subject and his exist otherwise than in the impersonal state or her specific sensitivity.23 In the midst of suffering, there is always an expe- of Nirvana. 1 Buddha described Nirvana as rience of evil which causes the individual to suffer.24 deathlessness. It is the highest spiritual attainment that is the reward of those who The Christian view of evil differs from that of other cultural and religious tra- have lived a life of virtuous conduct and practice in accordance with the Noble ditions (see sidebar). Christians believe that there is nothing that God created Eightfold Path: right view, right intention, which is not a good, which is not a gift to us. In Genesis 1:13 we read, And right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. Each concentration. Nirvana frees the soul from thing was created with a purpose, which is to help us to know and love God. the endless cycle of personal reincarnations along with the suffering that is the natural The Catechism states, that consequence of such rebirths. In the place or state of Nirvana, all individual passion, For each one of the works of the six days it is said: and God saw that hatred, and delusion is extinguished; it is characterized by freedom from, or oblivion it was good. By the very nature of creation, material being is endowed to, pain, worry, and the external world. with its own stability, truth and excellence, its own order and laws. Each of the various creatures, willed in its own being, reflects in its own way a ray of Gods infinite wisdom and goodness. Man must therefore respect the particular goodness of every creatureThe beauty of creation re- flects the infinite beauty of the Creator and ought to inspire the respect and submission of mans intellect and will.25 John Paul II tells us that evil is a certain lack, limitation or distortion of good man suffers because of a good in which he does not share.26 Evil deprives us of so mething that is necessary for us to reach perfection, something which we re- quire in order to fully realize ourselves. St. Thomas Aquinas tells us that Mere absence of good is not bad; otherwise the non-existence of any- thing would be bad, and whatever was without some good quality: man, for example, would be bad because he is not as swift as a goat or as strong as a lion. It is the deprivation of good which is bad: blindness, for example, which is lack of sight.27 Because of our limited human perspective, it can be difficult for us to ascertain whether something is truly evil or truly good very often in this world what are called evils are not really such, nor is everything good which appears so to us. There are failures wherewith Providence blesses us, and there are successes which it sends us in pun- ishment for our faults.28 23. SD, 7. 24. Ibid. 25. CCC, 339 and CCC, 341. 26. SD, 7. 27. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, edited by Timothy McDermott (Notre Dame, Indiana: Ave 1. Sharpe, A.B., Evil, The Catholic Encyclo- Maria Press, 1989), 92. pedia, vol. V. 28. Lehodey, Rt. Rev. Dom Vitalis, O.C.R., Holy Abandonment, trans. Rev. Ailbe J. Luddy, O.Cist. (Dublin: 13 Salvifici Doloris Chapter 1 SALVIFICI DOLORIS.indd 13 8/6/08 12:46:34 PM

14 There is always the danger of falling into relativism. We are tempted to dis- DID YOU KNOW? regard the dependence of human reason on Divine Wisdom and the need, Relativism is any doctrine that denies given the present state of fallen nature, for Divine Revelation as an effective the existence of absolute values; moral means for knowing moral truths, even those of the natural order.29 Pope John relativism suggests that there are no objective and/or universal moral Paul II writes, Revelation teaches that the power to decide what is good and what truths against which moral or ethical propositions can be measured. Instead, is evil does not belong to man, but to God alone.30 cultural boundaries or personal individual preferences are seen as valid reference We suffer as a consequence of natural evil, due to the bad effect of events points in order to assess the good or evil of any particular belief or action. For example, that occur around or to us; we may also experience evil through the fault of relativism would suggest that euthanasia our own misdirected will, because we have chosen to engage in actions that is an acceptable solution to pain and suffering, provided the individual has freely run contrary to our conscience. Regardless of its origin, wherever there is an chosen that course of action. Pope John occurrence of evil, we will always find some reference to good. As darkness Paul II writes, In the Book of Genesis we read: The is nothing but the absence of light, and is not produced by creation, so evil is Lord God commanded the man, saying, merely the defect of goodness.31 You may eat freely of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die Discussion Question (Genesis 2:16-17). Withthe that thispower imagery, Revelation to decide whatteaches is good and what is evil does not belong to man, 8. The toppling of the World Trade Center Towers, the attack but to God alone. The man is certainly on the Pentagon, and the crash of United Airlines flight 93 at free, inasmuch as he can understand and accept Gods commands. And he Shanksville, Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001 was an act of possesses an extremely far-reaching terrorism that was a horrendous evil. In what way did this evil freedom, since he can eat of every tree of the garden. But his freedom is not have reference to good? Did any good come from this tragedy unlimited: it must halt before the tree that might not have otherwise occurred? of the knowledge of good and evil, for it is called to accept the moral law given by God. In fact, human freedom finds its authentic and complete fulfillment precisely in the acceptance of that law. God, who alone is good, knows perfectly (Read Section II, Article 8) what is good for man, and by virtue of his very love proposes this good to man in Everyone will experience suffering at some point during the course of their the commandments. life. For most women, it is a transitory state which passes after a brief period of Gods law does not reduce, much less do away with human freedom; rather, time. For others, it is a defining reality in their lives. Some women live in ab- it protects and promotes that freedom. ject poverty without any hope of material future change. Others endure abu- In contrast, however, some present-day cultural tendencies have given rise to sive relationships, cope with chronic physical pain and illness, or are forced to several currents of thought in ethics which centre upon an alleged conflict between stand by helplessly while those they love engage in self-destructive behaviors. freedom and law. These doctrines would grant to individuals or social groups the While suffering is at all times a unique and personal experience, we are at the right to determine what is good or evil. same time part of a larger world of suffering which inspires in us feelings of Human freedom would thus be able to create values and would enjoy a community and solidarity. An experience of suffering, particularly when it is primacy over truth, to the point that truth itself would be considered a creation of marked by elements shared in common with the experience of another person, freedom. Freedom would thus lay claim stimulates us to develop an affinity with them. We feel mutual camaraderie; to a moral autonomy which would actually amount to an absolute sovereignty.1 our suffering becomes a unique link that creates empathy, understanding, and gives us a natural point of reference. The breast cancer survivor is instinctively drawn to the side of the woman who has just received her own devastating M.H. Gill and Son, Ltd., 1934; reprint, Rockford, Illinois: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 2003), 94 (page citations are to the reprint edition). 29. Pope John Paul II, Veritatis splendor (1993), 36. 30. Ibid., 35. 1. Pope John Paul II, Veritatis splendor, 31. St. Augustine; quoted by Sharpe, A.B. in Evil, The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. V. 35. Chapter 1 Salvifici Doloris 14 SALVIFICI DOLORIS.indd 14 8/6/08 12:46:34 PM

15 DID YOU KNOW? diagnosis; the mother who is struggling to overcome postpartum depression feels a natural affinity with other women who have undergone similar ordeals. Auschwitz-Birkenau was the largest and most infamous of the Friendship, the readiness to walk the path of suffering with another human be- German Nazi concentration and extermination camps built during ing, and the willingness to support, encourage, and give reasons for hope are World War II. Located about 30 powerful ways in which healing bonds are created: A brother helped is like a miles west of Krakw in southern Poland, it was in operation from strong city (Proverbs 18:19). 1940 to 1945. Although the exact number of victims will never be Collectively, experiences of privation, hardship, and the unimaginable atroci- known, it is estimated that 1.1 million people died there, of ties and torment endured during times of war or racial conflict, as the result of which approximately 90 percent natural disasters, or due to acts of terrorism are other powerful unitive means. were of Jewish descent. The majority of the people died in the We band together to strengthen one another; we forge strong human bonds: gas chambers, but other causes of death included systematic And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will with- starvation, forced labor, disease and stand him. A threefold cord is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12). It is not epidemics, punishment, torture and individual executions, and criminal uncommon to hear of great acts of heroism or kindness undertaken on behalf medical experimentation. Those of strangers by people who might otherwise never have become friends. In who lost their lives at Auschwitz include St. Edith Stein and St. the midst of sorrow and difficulties, our need for understanding and care, our Maximilian Kolbe. universal desire for support and sympathy, provides opportunities for us to extend a loving hand to others and for others to reach out to us with care and compassion. Above all, we are united by our common desire to seek a deeper meaning and purpose in suffering. Dr. Viktor Frankl, an Austrian neurologist and psychia- trist who survived the Auschwitz death camp during World War II wrote it seemed to me that I would die in the near future. In this critical situation, however, my concern was different from that of most of my comrades. Their question was, Will we survive the camp? For, if not, all this suffering has no meaning. The question which beset me was, Has all this suffering, this dying around us, a meaning? For, if not, then ultimately there is no meaning to survival; for a life whose meaning depends upon such a happenstanceas whether one escapes or not ultimately would not be worth living at all.32 Contemporary society is facing an incomparable accumulation of sufferings, even to the possible self-destruction of humanity.33 The threat of nuclear war, ongoing terrorism, issues of climate change, and the depletion of non- renewable resources are pressing issues of this century which have contributed to a generalized feeling of uncertainty and a lack of hope. It is to this world that Pope John Paul II addresses this reflection. It is for this world that Christ suffered and died. 32. Frankl, Viktor E., Mans Search for Meaning (Ein Psycholog erlebt das Konzentrationslager, Austria: 1946; trans. Boston: Beacon Press, 1959; reprint, New York: Washington Square Press, 1985), 138 (page citations are to the reprint edition). 33. SD, 8. 15 Salvifici Doloris Chapter 1 SALVIFICI DOLORIS.indd 15 8/6/08 12:46:34 PM

16 Discussion Questions 9. What is at the heart of a womans ability to express empathy? 10. Do you believe that there is meaning in the suffering that is being experienced in the world today? Do you believe that a life of suffering is worth living? Case Study for Reflection: In his book, Mans Search for Meaning, Dr. Viktor Frankl spoke of the case of a mother whose younger son had died at the age of eleven. After his death, she was left alone to care for her older son who was crippled in a wheelchair as the result of the effects of infantile paralysis. Overwhelmed by the circumstances of her life, she fell into complete despair. She tried to commit suicide together with her surviving son; however, he prevented her from doing it. For him, life had remained meaningful; he liked living. In the course of a group discussion, Dr. Frankl addressed another woman in the group: I asked her how old she was and she answered, Thirty. I replied, No, you are not thirty but instead eighty and lying on your deathbed. And now you are looking back on your life, a life which was childless but full of financial success and social prestige. And then I invited her to imagine what she would feel in this situation. What will you think of it? What will you say to yourself? Let me quote what she actually said from a tape which was recorded during that session. Oh, I married a millionaire, I had an easy life full of wealth, and I lived it up! I flirted with men; I teased them! But now I am eighty; I have no children of my own. Looking back as an old woman, I cannot see what all that was for; actually, I must say, my life was a failure! I then invited the mother of the handicapped son to imagine herself similarly looking back over her life. Let us listen to what she had to say as recorded on the tape: I wished to have children and this wish has been granted to me; one boy died; the other, however, the crippled one, would have been sent to an institution if I had not taken over his care. Though he is crippled and helpless, he is after all my boy. And so I have made a fuller life possible for him; I have made a better human being out of my son. At this moment, there was an outburst of tears and, crying, she continued: As for myself, I can look back peacefully on my life; for I can say my life was full of meaning, and I have tried hard to fulfill it; I have done my besthave done the best for my son. My life was no failure! Viewing her life as if from her deathbed, she had suddenly been able to see a meaning in it, a meaning which even included all of her sufferings.34 34. Frankl, Viktor E., Mans Search for Meaning, 139-140. Chapter 1 Salvifici Doloris 16 SALVIFICI DOLORIS.indd 16 8/6/08 12:46:34 PM

17 Discussion Question 11. What enabled this woman to view her life from a different perspective? Point for Personal Meditation: During the coming week, take a few moments to reflect on how you have responded to suffering in your life. Do you see meaning in it? 17 Salvifici Doloris Chapter 1 SALVIFICI DOLORIS.indd 17 8/6/08 12:46:35 PM

18 Notes Chapter 1 Salvifici Doloris 18 SALVIFICI DOLORIS.indd 18 8/6/08 12:46:35 PM

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