St. Paul teaches us:
“He saved us and called us to a holy life…
On this account I am suffering these things;
but I am not ashamed,
for I know him in whom I have believed
and am confident that he is able to guard
what has been entrusted to me until that day.” 2 Tim. 1:1-3, 6-12
In a similar way, Pope Francis teaches us, from his Apostolic Exhortation, ‘The Joy of Love’:
“Crisis need to be faced together…At these times, it becomes all the more important to create opportunities for speaking heart to heart…Communication is an art learned in moments of peace in order to be practiced in moments of difficulty…Like childbirth, this is a painful process that brings forth a new treasure.” Chapter 6, 234
American Catholicism is undergoing a crisis in suffering.
Not that we are suffering for the first time, or in a deeper fashion. A simple glimpse into Catholic-Christian salvation history reveals multitudes of persecutions, and thousands upon thousands of worthy martyrs.
What makes the current crisis distinct is its Christ-less nature.
It starts with the sad reality we call the cafeteria Catholic. This is a baptized Catholic who through, either, faulty catechesis, or relativistic-individualistic-political correctness, has chosen to disavow themselves from a part of the fullness of Christian Truth residing solely in the Catholic Church.
This is manifest in a Pro-choice mentality which leads to the tragedies of abortion and euthanasia. This is manifest in a relativistic attitude which has birthed such tragedies as gay ‘marriage,’ federally supported transgenderism, and attacks on religious liberty incarnate in HHS mandates and popular attacks on the faith. It has also manifested itself in the contraceptive mentality which has led to divorce-on-demand, rampant social promiscuity, and the diminishment of the traditional family.
But it all starts with the tiny seed of Christ-less suffering.
Prayer, the supernatural art of communication with God, has diminished in a secularized society which has taken God from the school. Subsequently, Mass attendance has dropped; conversely, confession is a forgotten wellspring of grace–where we return to a position of sanity in repenting and converting in the Blood of the Merciful Christ.
Immature Christ-less suffering is not just a Catholic phenomenon. Non-Catholics, or Protestants if you will, display this unwillingness to live the Paschal Way of the Cross as evidenced in their self-indulgent invention otherwise known as the ‘Gospel of Prosperity.’
Yet, St. Paul reminds us that we are all called to a ‘holy life.’
And Pope Francis reminds us that this is a ‘painful process.’
But Francis also puts it in the perspective of ‘childbirth’ with the Divine promise of discovering a ‘new treasure.’
A ‘holy life’ can only be found within the Will of God the Father, in the Paschal example of Jesus the Savior, in the Spirit of Divine Mercy, and Divine Truth as taught by the Church. In other words, in a life which participates in the faith, hope and charity of the Communion of the saints.
This ‘painful process’ is participation in the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ. Theologically it is called sanctification. In holy layman’s terms it is willingly ‘carrying our cross.’ It is, moreover, the only Way to heaven. For, like the sword or a pot of gold, perfection comes only through fire.
But humility, often times earned by unremitting Divine Merciful circumstances, is the only way (along with prayerful patience and perseverance), in a fashion much like childbirth, for us to find the ultimate treasure in the Triune God of Mercy, Unconditional in His unrelenting love for us, and in finding out who we truly are, buried deep beneath who we have been trying to be in people pleasing and selfish self-adulation.
In this process, a necessary heavenly gift, suffering is our salvation.
Suffering from the Suffering Savior.
From His Cross and empty Tomb…to ours as well.