Friday, November 25, 2011

The Easy Ways Don't Work

To suffer with the other and for others; to suffer for the sake of truth and justice; to suffer out of love and in order to become a person who truly loves—these are fundamental elements of humanity, and to abandon them would destroy man himself. Yet once again the question arises: are we capable of this? Is the other important enough to warrant my becoming, on his account, a person who suffers? Does truth matter to me enough to make suffering worthwhile? Is the promise of love so great that it justifies the gift of myself? In the history of humanity, it was the Christian faith that had the particular merit of bringing forth within man a new and deeper capacity for these kinds of suffering that are decisive for his humanity.
Spe Salvi 39
Reflection – Yesterday I reflected with the Holy Father on the redemption of our own personal suffering – how the fear of suffering drives us into all sorts of pathological and even evil acts, and how Christ present in our suffering heals us of this fear so we can bear whatever pain we must bear in this life with hope.
Today he goes on to reflect on the reality of suffering for others, not merely our own personal pain. The fact is, as we all know, we live in a broken world, and to truly help others, to be a force for love and healing, justice and mercy in this broken world, is not easy (to say the least!)
I am reminded of something Catherine Doherty was told by her spiritual director in the 1940s, Fr. Paul Furfey: that many people were willing to help change the world in easy ways… but the easy ways do not work. Very few people are willing to lay down their lives for the world, but the effect of their lives is all out of proportion to their numbers.
Truly, to live one’s life is such a way that some little light of love is shone into our corner of the world, to spend one’s time and energy in such a way that at least a few other people come to know something of joy and love—this is a task that demands all we have. It is a crucifying way of life, yet without it, love and joy remain very small and weak in the world.
And so we do have to know that there is a Love that meets our love, a Death that meets our death, and a Life, radiant and unending, that will catch and enfold our life as we strive to pour it out for the world.
And that it matters – that this little brother or sister, this little person in fact does matter enough for me to die for them, or be willing to suffer that they may live. Here too we need some kind of vision of Christ—how much I mean to Him—so you can mean that much to me, and so forth.
The pro-life cause is one I am passionate about, yet the circumstances of my life mean I have little direct involvement with it. But I believe firmly that the most deeply pro-life work anyone can engage with is to treat every human being as someone who is worth dying for, someone who is of immense importance to the world and to myself. Someone who is a precious and irreplaceable treasure. Everyone.
It is the absence of this attitude—the treating of people as units of production or valuable only if they are pleasing to the eye or in some other way—that is the deep root of the culture of death. But to live a true culture of life means being willing to suffer and die, even for one person who we might not even like terribly. And this is the force of love and hope that changes the world; nothing else will, you know.